It was the day after I took the NCLEX and after numerous times of doing the Pearson Vue trick (AKA PVT) that I finally found out that I passed. I was in denial for hours. I texted a (previous) professor of mine, texted nurses I knew, and called the Nevada State Board of Nursing twice before I finally accepted the fact that I passed. That is when I stood up and screamed at the top of my lungs. I felt so smart, accomplished, and excited.
And, because I got so many tips from the internet that helped me, I thought I would post my NCLEX-RN study plan. This blog post will include the following sections: an about me section (detailing stuff about the one and only), the books I used (including links), and the actual day to day (including # of questions done).
I’m writing about me because I think it will help you to see if this plan would work for you or not. Everybody studies differently and every person knows and retains different information. My graduating GPA was 3.5. I attended College of Southern Nevada (CSN) for my prerequisites and I graduated with my BSN from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). I passed all my nursing classes the first time & finished in 16 months, which is the length of my program. I have healthy anxiety prior to tests.
My HESI Exit Exam was on Dec. 13 and my NCLEX-RN was Jan. 9, exactly 27 days later. I scored a 1039 on my HESI Exit Exam; the requirement for my school was 900. I scheduled my exam on Dec. 23, the day I received my ATT, and picked the soonest date possible. I started to feel nervous after a week and thought I needed more time, but I eventually decided NOT to reschedule.
Reviews and Rationales: Comprehensive Review by Mary Hogan (2e) – I mostly used this book during nursing school. I never read through it for the HESI or after I scheduled my NCLEX. Even though I didn’t use this to study for the NCLEX, I thought that some of the info stuck with me. This book is easy-to-read and the information highlighted is very useful. I like the questions at the end of the chapters; they aren’t the easiest, but not the hardest either. There’s a folding, study-guide pamphlet (or whatever you want to call it) that comes with the book that I absolutely love! I skimmed this pamphlet the day before NCLEX. Get the book I used here or the latest edition here.
Prioritization, Delegation, and Assignment 2nd Edition by LaCharity – This is a book I used mostly in my last semester and the only book I used during the last study days before the exam. When I first started nursing school, I thought the questions in this book were really hard. As you get smarter, the questions get easier! Amazing, right? I did most of the chapters and I’ll post my scores below. This book really helps you with priority and delegation, as the title states. The version I used, which is the 2nd edition, can be found here. The most recent 3rd edition, released in December 2013, can be found here. The 4th edition is set to be released in February 2018.
Saunders Q&A Review 5th Edition by Silvestri – I think the questions in this book and the included disc are very good, but I think they are lower tier questions. I would get higher scores when I did these questions. I liked that the software program gave me options as to what areas I wanted questions; even an option to only get alternate-format questions. If you are buying used and want the disc, make sure to ask the seller if a disc is included. Get the book and read other reviews here. The 7th edition is set to be released December 2017 and can be found here.
NCLEX Study Guide from AllNurses.com
The information in this study guide is very helpful. Sometimes, when tons of info is put in simpler format, it is easier to understand. The daunting thing is that it is 35 pages long. Some of the information repeats and it is kind of unorganized. I read it once during the weeks before my exam and I read it the day before my exam, in spurts. Also, I love AllNurses.com, especially the forums. There is lots of useful information there if you are willing to do a little searching. Download the PDF here.
HESI Live Review Workbook for the NCLEX-RN Exam – This is not a common book. I know of nowhere where it may be purchased (except from third party sellers online). I received it on the first day of our 3-day live review. I think it’s a useful book. I think the info is helpful, but the person doing our live review really made this book work for her and for us. I skimmed through it one time after I scheduled my test date, but thoroughly read the test-taking strategies (along with my added notes) several times. I did not do the 32 questions in the back. Check the photo below.
NCSBN Learning Extension Online Program – I paid $50 to use this program for 3 weeks. I was only able to use it for 2 weeks, but I thought it was worth it. The questions are much harder. I didn’t get through many of the test banks, but I still felt like it was worth the money.
Sources I Did NOT Use
• NCLEX 3500 or NCLEX 4000
• Kaplan Test Banks
• Exam Cram Practice Exams
Day to Day Studying
I did questions every day, except Christmas Day. Some days I did 10 questions and some days I did 150-200. It just depended on the day. I started keeping track of my scores toward the end so that I could compare these scores with those that others posted online. My scores are posted below. I did not do a comprehensive review on my own. On the days preceding my HESI, which were Dec. 10-12, my school provided a review class for the HESI/NCLEX-RN. I thought this was helpful; both because of the book (noted above) and the nurse instructor doing the review. The reason I didn’t do a comprehensive review is because I just came out nursing school. If it has been awhile since you graduated, I suggest reviewing every page of a review book and/or taking a review/refresher class. I read online that someone suggested you should do 3000 questions before your NCLEX-RN. I did 1,364. Although, this number does not take into account the questions I did to practice for the HESI Exit Exam (200-300 questions) and the actual HESI Exit Exam (155 questions). Note that the instructor for our HESI live review suggested doing 75-100 questions per day.
My scores aren’t great and if yours are not either, do not be discouraged. Every question you get wrong is an opportunity to learn something! I read ALL the rationales, even if I got the question right. I may have gotten it right for the wrong reason, plus, it gives you insight into why the other options are wrong. When you are answering a question and you choose an answer, know why the other options are wrong. Additionally, for the questions I got wrong, I typed the rationale into the Notes app on my iPhone and kept an ongoing list. Others have suggested writing it by hand in a composition book and reviewing the rationales nightly. I reviewed the rationales a total of 4-5 times, usually right before bed. (You will note below that I don’t have questions done on Jan. 7, two days prior to my exam. I cannot recall doing questions that day; I can only recall that it was my niece’s birthday and that I had dinner with my family that night.) Yes, that is a an Excel spreadsheet of the questions I did. Isn’t Excel uhh-mazing?!
The Day Before The Exam
I did not do any practice questions this day. I did, however, do the following:
- Review common labs
- Review the rationales I had compiled
- Review the AllNurses.com study guide
- Review test-taking strategies
- RELAX – watch TV, paint my nails, cook
Good Luck! Study Hard! Do Work!
Again, this is just how I studied — your results could be different. You may need to study less, you may need to study more. Comment below if you have any questions. Good luck on your exam!
Feel free to read my other entries regarding my NCLEX-RN experience.
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Updated on September 23, 2017.