My NCLEX study plan

June 11, 2016

Since the beginning of nursing school, we have been hearing all of the upperclassmen talk about the NCLEX. Back then, all you probably knew about it was that it was a long and extensive test that was difficult to pass. And we have all heard the stories of those passing it in 75 questions. Wow, how lucky they must have been.

For me, it does not matter how many questions it takes me to pass (please do not be 265), but rather that I do get to add those two letters to the end of my name. 

My school used ATI throughout the six semesters. To be honest, it was okay. I did not really utilize the resources that were given to me nor understand the important of remediating questions during nursing school. I sort of just went through the motions of completing it for a grade. Looking back on it now, I really wish that I had been trying hard since day 1. Maybe then I would not have so much content to focus on.

Following graduation, my school had a three-day live-ATI review. It was a fast-paced content review on every subject in nursing school. I did enjoy the review, but I felt like it was lacking actually strategies to attack the NCLEX so I also took a Kaplan course. 

The main tools I am using to study for the NCLEX include:

Kaplan Qbank + question trainers
The Comprehensive NCLEX Review book by Saunders
Mosby's Memory Notecards

I probably started studying for the NCLEX a week after graduation. I wanted a little bit of a break and celebration. I knew that studying for the NCLEX would be a full-time job. I am talking 0900-1700 people! 

I am one of those people who can not study for very long. I need short breaks so I broke up my studying into a couple of different sessions, but I made sure to stay focused.

The first session was a  50 question Kaplan timed quiz. I tried my best to take them at the library in mock testing conditions. Following the test, I would review each and every question and answer choice. For the items I did not know, I would look them up right then and there and jot notes. This is where my Saunders book would come in handy. Everything you need to know in less than 15 pages per a system. 

I will not lie to you, Kaplan questions are hard. They challenge you to think critically. But stick with them! Each time I take a test I want to cry, no joke! Yet, I am noticing that I am improving, even if that is just narrowing down my questions to two answer choices. 

Session two: same as the first! 

Session three: Instead of doing Kaplan questions, I tried to focus on reviewing content. The tip is to start with content that is hard and challenging for you. For example, endocrine. I would read the chapter in my Saunders book and complete the post section questions. Then, I would take me memory notecards and read from there. Lastly, I would select endocrine questions from my NCLEX Mastery App aiming for 50 questions.

I really like that the NCLEX Mastery App has this function. It also has great resources such as learning terminology, labs, procedures, and mnemonics. Their rationales are usually good as well. 

Session four was always a hit or miss depending on what I had going on that day. Session four mirrored session three. However, I tried my best to focus solely on pharmacology for that content area. However, it was typically an hour or two before bed so my motivation was not always there. 

I plan on taking Kaplan's readiness test the week before I plan to sit for the actual NCLEX. Based on those results, I will tackle my weak spots twice as hard. 

The day before the exam I am not going to do any intense studying. However, I will be reviewing some key concepts and copying over some charts I made. I will make a separate post about the charts. 

Hopefully, it will all pay off!

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