A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….
Oh wait, sorry. That’s the wrong story. In all truthfulness, though it has been a while since I took the NCLEX-RN, it hasn’t been that long since I have thought about how it made me feel. As a nursing instructor, I work with students every day. I am reminded about how stressful nursing school can be from the eyes of a student. That frequently reminds me to put myself in their shoes and find ways to work with them toward their goals of becoming nurses. Sometimes, it is helpful to hear that someone has been where you are, that they know how it feels. Keep reading for my NCLEX-RN Story and some major takeaways that might help you as you write your own NCLEX-RN story.
I chose to do it alone. I’ve always been fairly independent and self-motivated, so beyond some informal practice sessions with a few of my nursing school BFFs (before the term BFF was even a thing), I chose to study on my own. My college provided a good content review at the conclusion of the nursing program. Armed with that and book or two, I set aside time to study on my own. I applied for my licensure and test right after graduation and waited about 6 weeks for my test day. During that time, I was working a full-time job so I studied for about an hour a day…maybe a bit more on the weekends.
I was NERVOUS!
I remember leaving really early so I would have time to park and find the testing center. I arrived early and was all checked in to the test before my appointment time. I found the testing center comfortable and the computers easy to use. Going into the exam, I did not have a full understanding about how the test worked or how it was scored. I pretty much believed almost every myth there was about the exam. My computer turned off at 75 questions and because the test seemed so hard, I was pretty sure that wasn’t a good sign. Of course, now I know that the exam should feel hard because of Computerized Adaptive Testing methods.
I had to wait about 4 weeks for my official notification. That time passed very slowly. It felt like years. When I was finally notified of my score, I was delighted to find out I had passed. I was so excited to put the test behind me and move on. I never wanted to see another nursing class, instructor, or test in my life. It’s pretty funny thinking about it now because just a few short years later, I was back in school for my BSN, followed by my MSN. Here I am now, a college nursing instructor! I’m dealing with classes and tests every day!
- Know what you need. As I said, I’m pretty self-motivated. I don’t need the structure of a class to keep me on task. That didn’t mean I didn’t need resources, though. I studied with nursing school friends and utilized test preparation materials. Look at all the options available to you and don’t be pressured to do what everyone else is doing. If you need more support, that’s ok. Find what you need and use it.
- Make a plan. I didn’t leave early by accident. I’m naturally a nervous person. Add in the pressure of a high-stakes exam and there was no telling how I would react. Plan for the things that worry you. Afraid you’ll be cold? Bring a sweater. Nervous you’ll get lost? Leave early. Listen to your inner voice and make plans that take away some of the anxiety. You won’t be able to eliminate it all but controlling the things you can control will go a long way toward your inner peace.
- Don’t be fooled! Do your research and know what to expect on the exam. The NCLEX-RN blog at Magoosh is just full of great content about the exam. Don’t let yourself believe the myths like I did. When I think about how much stress could have been avoided if I had only done a bit more research about what to expect…
- Keep it in perspective. During those long 4 weeks waiting for my results, I had a lot of time to think about “what ifs.” What if I didn’t pass??? It seemed like it was going to be the end of the world. It seemed that everyone would see me as a failure. Looking back now, I can see that just wasn’t the case. Many of my incredible, hard-working nurse colleagues didn’t pass the first time. In the big picture, you are still a person with people who love you, with hopes and dreams you are chasing. Passing or failing the NCLEX-RN doesn’t change that. The best news of all, you have more than one try. You can retake the test, so don’t let it get into your head and make you doubt yourself.
I know that my NCLEX-RN story might not be ground breaking but I do think that knowing someone has been where you are can be a priceless comfort. Good luck as you write your own NCLEX-RN story and happy studying!!