Passing the NCLEX: So what was it like ?

-Austin Jeffers, BSN RN


First off, I should give a little background to the first photo. This view was my life for two weeks, well kinda. A coffee to my left, my trusty dusty Ipad and a mixed bag of locations to switch things up while I took a mundane amount of practice questions. This sets up one of the oddest phenomena I would partake in while trying to cram a surplus of questions in each and every day. I found myself becoming very easily distracted when I would study hours on end in one spot, so I switched it up. I would explore and study in places ranging from new hip coffee shops in my area (shoutout to StoneFruit Coffee in Columbiana, Ohio) to the same Panera Bread I would often go to during undergrad. I know this is a common way of studying for many students, but when studying was as repetitive as doing 100–300 multiple choice problems a night, you really start to hate sitting down at the same desk. Plus, I quickly discovered how many times I would leave my home workstation to partake in a different task while, “studying.” So…. If paying for a coffee and a overpriced biscotti keeps you motivated (and caffeinated) enough to trudge through monotonous amounts of practice questions.. you go glen coco.

So…. I know how to study just tell me your experience, was it really as bad as teachers hype it to be ?

Was It That Bad ?

So short answer is yes, the test was very very challenging, but that’s a good sign. As many nursing students have already be told, the NCLEX is an adaptive exam. The exam is how school systems should work, and how every nursing exam should be… in a perfect world. As you progress through an adaptive exam like this, you as the student are constantly being evaluated to see if you can answer enough questions that puts your above the imaginary line of nursing competency. That is my short explanation, that becomes more and more easy to understand if…

  1. A more qualified and intelligent person explained it


2. You say, “Hey Siri,” or “Okay Google,” explain how the NCLEX grades me yatta yatta

So anyway, the exam SHOULD and will get increasingly more challanging as the student progresses through the exam. < — — — - THE SCOOP

75 to Stay Alive

Okay so first off, whoever says you have to stop at 75 to pass, obviously doesn’t understand how the test works. From my interpretation of the test, stopping at 75 either means the test was confident enough in your abilities to let you pass at the minimum amount, or you the test really wants you out of the test room. In retrospect, the number of questions you are at will play a factor if you go in extremely nervous like I was. After each question I would remind myself of the number of questions I had to go until 75, so try not to do that. Each test taker has 6 whopping hours to take this bad boy of an exam, so use as much time as you need. For my particular test site in Pennsylvania, I was allowed unlimited bathroom breaks and never used one. Looking back, I can say I rushed through the exam, which turned out okay this go-around, but rushing through has no positive or negative impact on the testing experience. 75 is only a number.

The Experience Walking In

Obviously this section is totally biased and no one experience walking into the test center can be duplicated. The test center was huge and intimidating at first, but friendly staff helped lower the stress level from a 20/10 to about a 13. My first piece of advice is to leave as much in the car as possible. The only personal items I brought with me were my car keys and personal identification in order to take the exam, making the whole process easier. Fellow students who brought their phones, purses, or wallets had to lock the items within a locker before sitting for the exam, which actually was the best case scenario. One student who had walked in with me brought a giant ziplock bag of Cheerios and and what looked like a mini carton of milk and a bottle of water. While this student argued with the staff that she was told to bring snacks for the test, I swiftly got a seat and started my exam. Overpacking in this case-scenario doesn’t help the hike up this mountain of an experience. Below is a bulletin list of other last minute tips for the exam.

  • When they offer earplugs, take the earplugs (trust me on this one) muffling the sound of crying and heavy breathing will do you wonders, the only downside is you will now hear your own tachycardic heart rate.
  • AGAIN, leave the phone and everything extra in the car
  • Use the bathroom breaks as much as you need, even to calm yourself down if needed
  • Wear the least amount of pockets possible. The staff is instructed to check all of your pockets, just less hassle if you wear athletic cloths for example.
  • Be comfortable, but not too comfortable like the girl who brought her breakfast to the test center.
  • Breathe
  • If you find yourself getting difficult questions, you are most likely doing well, so do not freak out
  • Wait 48 hours and then use the quick results
  • Try not to schedule your test on a weekend or Friday, it is 48 BUSINESS hours before you can use the quick results.
  • Priority questions, that is all I’m saying on this one.
  • (Insert your name here), RN

@aust1nj on Instagram