Wait, what did you say?! NCLEX for breakfast??? Is it any good?! Give me some of that!
I hate to have gotten your hopes up, but the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse) isn’t exactly a type of food that you would normally eat for breakfast. It’s actually what I studied for during breakfast — or usually during the early hours each morning.
The NCLEX-RN is possibly the scariest exam for any nursing graduate seeking licensure in the United States. I had a hard time searching for updated blogs about the exam, so I decided to write about my recent NCLEX-RN experience in hopes for helping those lost souls “googling” tips online. Here are a few (ooopps semi-lengthy lol) tips about preparing for the NCLEX-RN:
REGISTER FOR THE NCLEX-RN
Check with the Board of Nursing/Regulatory Body in your state (https://www.ncsbn.org/contact-bon.htm) for the requirements that you will need in order to apply for the NCLEX-RN because they may vary. Usually they will ask for original transcripts (mailed from your school to the BoN/RB office), recent police/court clearances, and the application itself to name a few. After the board declares you eligible, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) email. The ATT email will include your authorization number, candidate information and an expiration date (typically you need to take the test within 90 days of receiving your ATT). Afterwards, you may schedule for your exam on the Pearson VUE website ($200).
I DIDN’T GRADUATE NURSING SCHOOL IN THE UNITED STATES, WHAT DO I DO?!
The American dream never really dies, so who wouldn’t want to be partying (AKA working) in the USA? I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at the University of Santo Tomas (Manila, Philippines) in May 2015. I had extra fears of taking the NCLEX right after graduation because I felt alone and I’m pretty sure I was 90% of the time. There are more requirements needed to take the NCLEX-RN if you are a foreign nursing graduate, but like I said early – it still would depend with your local BoN/RB. Some of the other requirements could be: local licensure in the country that you had graduated from, CGFNS Credentials Evaluation Service Professional Report ($350), International English Language testing System (IELTS), work visas, etc.,
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE
The NCLEX-RN is basically a nursing exam consisting of a minimum of 75 to a maximum of 265 questions that will determine if it is safe for you to practice as an entry level nurse. It is definitely a different test compared to the ones you have taken before during nursing school. You cannot learn everything overnight — preparation is a must!!! Make a schedule of the topics that you want to tackle per week (or per day) so that you can be able to track your progress. Space out the topics and don’t rush with recalling concepts. Don’t forget to revisit your old frenemies – your books, notes, and power points during college! They definitely will be waiting for you to go back to them. Keep in mind that procrastinating will always a bad idea, so keep it at minimum! It’s better to be on track than to be stressing out on being behind with studying.
HEALTH IS WEALTH
Just because you are studying doesn’t mean that you have to kill yourself doing so. Rest days are important too! Make sure to have a day or two off from studying each week to relax your mind. Try to have at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night so that you will be well rested. Eat healthy, be healthy – it would be even harder to study if you weren’t feeling well. Exercise – it can relieve the weight off your shoulders if you go out for a run or hit the gym for a good work out.
Find comfort in asking for guidance before and after you study your material. Personally, I had always asked for strength because sometimes I would doubt myself. Remember, you want to pass this test not only for yourself, but for Him too.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO MEMORIZE EVERYTHING
Trying to memorize all the lectures, terms, formulas, and pathophysiologies is impossible. STUDY SMART!!! Find a technique that would be suitable for your study habits. It would be a better advantage on your part if you tried understanding concepts more than trying to memorize every single detail (but you NEED to memorize the normal laboratory values, that’s probably one of the only exceptions). Once you understand the important concepts, you are more likely to connect all the information together with critical thinking in answering questions.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Personally, I had difficulty answering questions thru a computer because I was used to the typical pen and paper examinations every week. Practice answering questions online (or download Q&A apps – check out NCLEX RN Mastery 2015 and Kaplan Q banks, they’re FREE!!!) until you get tired of it. I also bought Q&A books with rationales and read them over and over again (Saunders Q & A Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination 6th Edition and Kaplan NCLEX-RN Strategies, Practice & Review with Practice Test 2015-2016 were my best friends for months!). I think that I had probably answered more than 5,000 questions before taking my exam (haha, it was totally a love-hate situation).
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
I think that one of the hardest things about the NCLEX-RN was waiting. I HONESTLY HATED IT. I had waited 4 months before getting my ATT (I also had to fly back to the Philippines to get some missing requirements, but that was my fault haha so this is an avoidable situation). After the exam, you have to wait a few days before knowing if you passed or failed — SO AGONIZING!! There are a few ways to check if you have passed or failed hours after your test (PEARSON VUE TRICK), but it is not 100% accurate – best thing to do is wait! I remember that I had cried so much after my NCLEX-RN because I had stopped at #76/77 and I was just overwhelmed by it all.
Everything may seem impossible when you are preparing for something really important, but always remember — if there’s a will, there’s a way. Hard work, perseverance and sacrifice will always pay off in the end.
EAT THE NCLEX FOR BREAKFAST BECAUSE YOU CAN DO IT AND YOU WILL.