Friday, March 09, 2007

taking the NCLEX

In response to many hits that I receive from RN students worrying about the licensure exam, I will share my specific experience with it. As do most of you, I graduated in the beginning of May. Throughout two years of nursing school, our instructors required us to review something like 500 questions a week from an NCLEX review book. The CD-ROM accompanying the book makes an excellent study tool. It will ask you questions about the specific area of nursing you are studying in class at the time. Our instructors tried (and succeeded, in my opinion) to make exams for the course more difficult than NCLEX. I also found the review questions harder than NCLEX. This doesn't do anything for your confidence, but boosts your test-taking ability a great deal.

After graduation, I took a one week NCLEX review course. These courses are full of information on test-taking skills and some overview of basics. My favorite part of the review course was a quiz they gave us which used English sentence structure and nonsense words. Using the test-taking skills we had learned, we could answer the nonsense questions correctly.

I took the NCLEX in a different state from where I went to school, as that was where I would be practicing. This probably slowed paperwork down some, but I scheduled the test as soon as I could. That turned out to be about 6-8 weeks after graduation. I spent the intervening time studying the review books. A week or two before the test, my grades on the review tests started slipping into the 60-70% range. That made me want to panic. Instead, I realized that I had over-studied. I put my books away and enjoyed my time.

The morning jc dropped me off at the testing center, I was suddenly overwhelmed by confidence. I felt sure that I was prepared with what I needed to know, and I couldn't wait to finish the test. I went inside, registered my thumbprint and took the test. There were questions that I had no idea about, but I used my best test-taking technique. The questions seemed to get harder, and the test shut off after the minimum number of questions (range is 75-265). I knew I had passed.

I called jc to come pick me up. He was schocked that I had finished so quickly. It was something like two hours. We had to wait a few days before checking the internet to find out that I had indeed passed. I did the biggest happy dance of my life. I already had a job lined up, but they wouldn't let me start working until the paper license arrived in the mail.

I'm still thankful for the tough program the professors at Penn State Altoona put me through, because it prepared me to pass the test.


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