View Full Version : NCLEX Tips

02-10-2008, 05:05 PM
Before I start with tips, a caveat: I am someone who does well on tests -- I took my GRE (Graduate Records Exam -- the test in the U.S. that is required for admission to most graduate programs) with no prep other than going through the practice disk they sent me a few times. That said, I think at least some of these things will be relevant to at least some of you students.

The first thing I'll say is that the tests are a big psych-out. It seems that everything they do to you is meant to make you as nervous as possible: you come in, and have to remove everything that could possibly be of use, including your watch. You have your picture taken, you have to sign electronically, and thumb-print and then sign electronically again. You are being monitored and recoded. If you have to use the restroom you have to go through the whole rigmarole again. It makes you think, "am I taking a test or going to jail?"

Going in knowing this may help. If you have any techniques to help you relax, make sure they are handy.

Preparation courses: (i.e. Kaplan, others): I didn't do anything like this, and would probably have found it a waste of my time and money. Others have sworn by them. Some schools have them as part of their curriculum. I'd say think carefully before you part with your own money.

Other prep: I used some books, and it is good, I think to read through some of the strategy stuff, particularly if you are not familiar with how tests are constructed (which most of us aren't unless you've taken education courses). What really helped me was practicing with the computerized practices. It got me used to the format and the time element.

About the test ending: I know they say that if you shut off at 75 you may have passed or you may have not passed, but I have yet to meet anyone who stopped at 75 and didn't pass.

(for those non-U.S. citizens, the NCLEX uses Item Response Theory and item analysis to create adaptive tests: it starts at about mid-range difficulty. If you answer right, you get a harder question, if you answer wrong, you get an easier question, based on the analysis of what is "hard" and what is "easy." The minium number of questions are 75, the max 265).

Remember: passing is answering 50% of the questions you are given correctly

Except for rare cases, you will feel awful when you are done. I admit, I felt cautiously optimistic when I was finished (if totally wrung out), but I've known people to throw up, to go home in total despair, to lie about taking the test when they were sure they hadn't passed -- and they all did! Treat yourself kindly the days surrounding the test (i.e. good night's sleep the night before, indulge yourself afterwards).

It's worth the little bit extra to get the results on-line. You don't realize how much the waiting takes out of you until you get your results.

For me, it was good to have someone around when I got my results...YMMV

Oh, and this ( looks like a good place to get some further advice.

Good luck and know that even if you don't pass, you can take it again. It is not the end of the world, even if it feels like it at the time.:ahhhhh:

02-10-2008, 10:59 PM
Great tips, Marachne! Thanks!

I wish I had understood computerized adaptive testing methodology before I sat for the NCLEX. As it was, I was caught completely off-guard. The first question I answered was easy, the next one less so. Each question became progressively more complex/subtle/arcane until the computer shut off at question #75. I was both alarmed and elated during the exam for the majority of the questions seemed to range outside that of nursing and into the world of medicine. At the end of it I felt as if I had fried every one of my cerebral synapses and that smoke surely must be curling from my ears. And I was confident I had failed the exam.

A letter confirming successful completion arrived 3 weeks later. I was so shocked I actually called the state board of nursing to notify them of their error! The poor woman who accepted my call was bewildered. "You want me to....what? Make sure you really passed?" After a bit of encouragement (well, no, after employing every bit of social engineering I could muster!) the woman agreed to get back to me about my score. When she did, she had a smile in her voice: "I can't tell you how you scored, but let's just say you did well. You did very, very well." After a few pleasantries we hung up. And I have practiced as an RN ever since.

The following site has a letter in which Computerized Adaptive Testing for NCLEX is discussed: I hope it brings a sense of comfort and confidence to those students who read it.



02-11-2008, 01:45 AM
Interesting site LeslieJoy. (Actually, it's what I would call a G_d awfully designed site, but I suppose I shouldn't let that influence me). It was a good explanation of CAT, more than I got in my
Advanced Measurement class. I can tell you more about Item Response Theory, but I don't want to put everyone to sleep.

That's amazing that you got someone to talk to you, I don't even know where I'd go to ask! OTOH, I'm so glad that results are so much faster now (what is it, 48 hours to get the results on-line?)

I know that stopping at 75 could mean that you failed miserably, but I think anyone who completes a nursing program with any competence would have to work really hard to do that badly. I know when I hit 70 I was just praying for it to shut off because I wanted it to be done!:pcguru:

And just getting one word ("pass" or "fail") is a bit anti-climatic, but then some of the biggest things in our life can be that way (like, for instance getting my domestic partnership this last week -- a clerical action, not a wedding, and fairly almost boring, but way important...but I digress).

I think it is important to go in feeling as confident as you can in you knowledge and ability to think....and know that yes, you will miss questions, but that's the way it's designed.

02-11-2008, 03:44 AM
I took Kaplan. My roommates and I skipped the second day to go have a few drinks. I found a review book that ran thru the body systems and then had questions over those, as well as practice tests. That seemed to have worked for me. The computer shut off at 75. I just kept thinking, "I can't be that dumb to have failed in 75..." I was right. I passed.

A few weeks later, one of my dear roomies called to tell me she'd taken the entire test and failed. She felt awful. But, then again, she'd spent a month goofing off in Europe and I'm sure partied the night before she took the test. Her retake was around mid-way thru, and she passed.

Eat a good meal before you go. Also, take your favorite, butt-kicking cd to listen to on the way there to get yourself psyched up!

Good Luck!

02-12-2008, 01:00 AM
I think I took a sample test that was on a CD in the back of a review book so that I could get used to how the questions were written.

My questions stopped at 75, but I was POSITIVE that I failed and even called one of my instructors crying. (We were close; I worked for her during nursing school)

I was shocked when I found out that I passed.

It was a very stressful wait!

05-10-2011, 06:47 AM
Thanks for tips, it is really helpful for clear the exam.Great post

10-15-2011, 03:50 AM
Nclex can provide a nice option for the nurses to reach new heights in their professional carrier. But at some points it could prove to be stressful for some of us. I am preparing for the NCLEX since 6 month and still sometime got problem in some stuff. That's why I am considering having professional coaching for it which covers most of the steps needed to get prepare for test like these. If you have something to suggest which will help me it will be really helpful