How I Passed NCLEX in 75 Questions

Let me just say that I think it's hilarious that the past 4 years of my undergraduate career, 2 of those years being the ultimate preparation for taking this big bad test, came down to taking just 75 questions. Never mind the thousands of exam questions, practice questions, quizzes, and late nights studying... I just needed to take 75 questions. How anticlimactic is that!?

When I got to question #75 and the computer screen flickered, directing me to the special research portion signifying the end of my exam, I felt a knot in my stomach. I was genuinely confused as to whether I had passed in 75 or failed in 75. I felt a dread come over me as I thought, "There's absolutely no way in hell I just passed in 75." Because that wasn't even in my radar. I had heard of people passing in 75 but I went into the exam ready to spend 6 hours in there, getting all 265 questions. But let's rewind a bit. 

I graduated nursing school on the 12th of May, got my Authorization to Test (ATT) from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) on the 16th, and scheduled myself to test on the 4th of June. It all happened very fast, and I'm really grateful for that. I wanted to get my test out of the way before starting my new job on Labor & Delivery so that I could get RN pay instead of unlicensed pay, and I didn't want to work and study at the same time. Technically, I could have waited to sit for boards until the start of my residency in August (I'm working on L&D this summer as a licensed Extern II), but I didn't want to risk failing it on the first try and having to wait 45 days to retest, and also forgetting all the information that was still fresh on my mind from school. I started my application with the Georgia Board of Nursing on March 29th, because I didn't want to be the person still waiting for my ATT a month after graduation. It varies by state on how quickly you get your ATT so don't feel like you're behind if your state is known to hold ATTs for a month. 

So how did I study in those 3-4 weeks? 

You guys saw me doing UWorld every single day, and I did! I purchased the 60 day package because I wanted the practice assessment, and I didn't have my ATT then, so I didn't know I would take it in less than 30 days. I also had access to Hurst material because our program required us to do the Live Review and 1 Simulation (125 question exam) during school. I didn't follow a set study schedule because I obviously had never done this before, and I wanted to study depending on my own progress and study habits, rather than using someone else's study schedule.

The first week of studying was a little scattered because it was my birthday, I was in DC, and I was moving. But every chance I had, I would get my laptop out, do a 25 question quiz, or if I had time, a 50 question quiz. After things got settled down a bit and I had a desk to study on at our new place, I studied 5-6 hours a day. This is actually way less per day that some of my peers studied, as I heard that they were doing 8 hours of studying per day. Since I wasn't working, and Caleb had started his new job, I had all day to study before he came home at 5. It was actually an awesome schedule! This is what my day would look like for the next 2-3 weeks: 

7-8  Wake up + Say goodbye to Caleb

8-9 Drink coffee + Check social media 

9-10 Do a 50 question UWorld quiz

10-12 Do a 75 question UWorld quiz

12-1 Lunch

1-2 Do a 50 question UWorld quiz

2-3 Review all notes taken that day and previous days and reference old notes, Hurst workbook, Saunders book 

Now, "doing a quiz" doesn't mean mindlessly answering questions with the TV blaring in the background while checking Instagram after doing the absolute least (as tempting as that is). It means putting my phone away, listening to classical/acoustic music with headphones, taking each quiz as if it was the NCLEX, and a using notebook and pen to take notes on what I needed to review + what I needed to relearn. I took all quizzes on Tutor Mode on UWorld, so that after each question, I would know if I got it correct/incorrect and I could take notes on all rationales, not just the questions I got wrong. At first, I did only brand new questions and I was scoring way below average, at about 40-50%. Then, I would create quizzes of all incorrect questions so that I could review those and make sure I completely understood those questions and rationales. Then, I set all quizzes to include "All" questions, which included brand new questions from the question bank, as well as questions I had done before. This helped me refresh on material I had before, as well as review the things I got wrong. After these quizzes, I also reviewed the subject portion which tells you where you're struggling. I found that I struggled with Critical Care and Pharmacology the most, while doing very well in OB and Psych, so I made plenty of quizzes with only Critical Care + Pharm questions, too. And that would be the extend of my studying for a day. I would put everything away for the rest of the day to give my mind a break. I think this part is most important because if you are giving yourself an entire day to study with no set time limit, you'll constantly be in a studying mindset which is exhausting and inefficient. 

My quiz scores started at 40-50% and after a week of this intense studying, they went up to right at average and slightly above on some quizzes, which is usually 50-60%. Up to 2-3 days before my exam, my quiz scores went up dramatically, closer to the 70-80% range.

At the 2 week mark, I did my 2nd Hurst NCLEX Simulator. They like you to score a 77+/125 to ensure passing NCLEX. I took my first simulator in school and scored a 61/125. Then, when I took it after 2 weeks of intense UWorld studying, I scored a 71. This improvement was a good sign for me, even if it was below their recommended 77, so I reviewed all 125 questions from this test, took notes, and I studied for a couple more days and finally did my UWorld Assessment. This 75 question assessment told me that I had a "high chance of passing," which "Indicates that your probability of passing is somewhat higher than rest of users but there are still areas which require improvement." With this done, I knew I still had to practice more, and I had a week left of intense studying to do before test day. 

I continued to do more UWorld questions and my scores gradually increased. I ultimately answered 1641 questions on UWorld, putting me at a total of approximately 2100 practice questions in my NCLEX studying after another Hurst Simulator.

On Test Day:

I had a ton of you asking how I handled my nerves on test day and during the exam. I definitely didn't have it all together, especially because my test was at 1400 and I'm a morning tester! I was nervous about the fact that I would have all morning to not be able to do anything but think about my test, but I made it a point to not study at all that day. I woke up, had a delicious breakfast, lied to you guys on Instagram saying that I was studying that day (hahahahahahha I had to), and watched Law&Order SVU! I knew I had to get my mind off of the test or I'd try to cram information and stress myself out even more. I took a shower, took Louis on a walk, and got ready. I've mentioned this before, but I like dressing slightly uncomfortable for studying/exams so that I maintain a healthy amount of stress so I can stay focused. If you care, I wore jeans, sandals, and a long sleeve top.

When I got to the testing center, I became really nauseous because it started hitting me that this is what the past 4 years had prepared me for. I was in the waiting room and one of you guys actually said, "Hey, I follow you on Instagram!" and I was like "SHIT I'm caught!" because I didn't want to broadcast the day I was testing! But I'm glad you said hey, whoever you were! It helped me calm my nerves a bit because I remembered that I have so many of your guys rooting for me. 

My testing center was pretty standard and similar to the testing center where I took my GRE (info on studying for GRE on my FAQ Story Highlight on my IG). I had to store everything in a locker, and carried just my ID and locker key into the testing room, where every computer was separated by a faux wall like cubicles, and we got 1 plastic worksheet and marker to do any writing or calculations. I actually didn't use it but it would've been very helpful had I gotten any complex med math questions. There were 2 headphones, 1 for listening to audio, and 1 for noise-cancelling purposes, and I really appreciated those because I get distracted quite easily during exams. 

My exam wasn't heavy in 1 topic, it was truly randomized and reflected on everything we learned. I had a lot of SATA and prioritization questions, as expected. I would recommend that you focus on remembering Airway, Breathing, Circulation, and Disability to remember that your main priority is to keep your patient safe and alive. The test was set up just like UWorld, and I found that extremely helpful. It felt as if I was doing a UWorld quiz, but just in a different setting. I took about 45 minutes to finish my exam, and spent 15 minutes doing the Special Research portion that they are using for beta purposes, as well as a survey at the end. I walked out, sat in my car, and just stared into space for a little bit. Did I really just only have 75 questions? So did I pass? Did I fail? Wtf!? And then I drove to a Chick-fil-A because I knew I couldn't just sit there because I'd just breakdown and cry for whatever reason. 

That night, Caleb and I picked up cheesecakes and wine and watched the Bachelorette as I tried to get my mind off of it and celebrate the fact that it was done (or my first attempt, at least), but you guys know me - I was checking the Board of Nursing page every hour, checking Pearson's page every hour (even though they don't release Quick Result options until 48 hours after). It turned out that I didn't find out until exactly 48 hours after my exam that I passed.

My advice to you for after the exam? Don't sit around refreshing the page every 2 seconds. Go do something, go to work, go to the pool, go shopping, do literally anything else. 

TLDR; I loved UWorld, 10/10 recommend, don't use too many resources or you'll go crazy, take your time during the exam but trust your gut! And YOU GOT THIS!

This post was a bit rambly, but I hope it helped you guys! And as always, remember that this is what worked for me and it may not work for you. If you have any other questions, comment them below and I'll reply as soon as possible!