Posts filed under ‘school’

How I passed the NCLEX-RN

The two most popular posts on my blog have been one about Hillary Clinton and another about my experience taking the NCLEX.  Well, since the one thing the world doesn’t need more of is one more person blogging about politics, especially someone who hates politics.  I thought I would make another post about the NCLEX.  Sorry to those of you who could care less.

My first tip is for people trying to pick a nursing school.  Get on-line and look up their passing average for the NCLEX.  I think how well your school prepares you for the ultimate test has a lot to do with you passing.  I believe my school did an excellent job preparing me for the NCLEX.  In 2006 my school’s average rate was 93%.  I would love to know what it is now because they now require all students to take a practice HESI exam every 9 weeks.  I work with several girls who all went to the same school and none of them have passed boards after several tries.  They are all REALLY smart, but the school just did not prepare them for the NCLEX.

For those who are not required to take the HESI, let me clue you in.  It’s basicly a longer harder version of the NCLEX.  If you can pass the HESI you are supposed to be able to pass the NCLEX.  It is also on a computer and the questions are just as hard, if not harder.  I believe a full length HESI is around 300 questions.  We took a short version every 9 weeks at the end of each term.  We also had a full length HESI before graduation that we were required to pass before graduation.

My second tip is to practice, Practice, PRACTICE!!  We were required to buy this book for school.  It comes with a computer disk with practice questions on it.  We were required to do a certain number of practice questions while we were in school, and we had to get over 80% correct or we had to keep doing them over and over again.  The book is not broken down by subject, the point is to get your brain used to jumping from subject to subject.

This is the only book I studied from for the NCLEX.  After graduation I took this book everywhere.  To the dog park, training classes for work, on my lunch break from work.  Every spare minute I had I was doing practice questions.  At home I would put the CD in my laptop and do practice questions on commercial breaks while watching TV.  I would mute the TV and do questions until my show came back on.

The disk has several options.  You can break the questions down into subjects, or have them mixed together.  You can do one question at a time, meaning it tells you the correct answer as soon as you pick your answer.  You can take 10 question quizes and then get the answers at the end.  Or you can take 100 question tests.

I did a little bit of each.  I liked getting the answer as soon as I answered the questions because I would still be thinking about why I answered the question the way I did when the correct answer came up.  However, the 100 question test builds up your endurance.  After doing several of these 100 questions will fly by in no time.

For the most part I did tests with the subjects all mixed together.  But I also  did tests with questions from each section individually.  You can also choose to do every single practice question from each subject.  The most important one for this option is the prioritizing section.  There aren’t that many questions in that section on the disk, but it will teach you to think like the NCLEX people think.  Do them ALL!!  I promise it will help on test day.

That is what you need to pass the boards.  You don’t need to know everything word for word out of the text book.  You need to be able to pick out the most important part of the question and figure out what answer it is pointing too.

Almost EVERY SINGLE  QUESTION on the NCLEX exam was about something I had never even HEARD of before, let alone knew anything about.  It was all about knowing what they were looking for,, and what the question was trying to get me to think about.

Some big things that I and others have been tested on very strongly:

1. Stages of isolation.  I had a question wanting to know what kind of isolation I would put a patient with some plague I had never heard of before in.  Well, obviously if it has the word PLAGUE in it, it is bad.  They are in the strongest isolation possible.

2.  I had a TON of those mark all answers that are correct questions.  ICKKK!!  MAJOR ICCCKKK!!  I SUCK at these because I can always talk myself into marking them all.  You can pick all of the questions like these from the disk and do just them.  DO THEM ALL!!!  Out of the 75 quesitons I got on the NCLEX I had at least 7 of those dumb things.  My other advice on these, don’t spend too much time on them.  Just pick the answers that pop out at you as correct and move on.  That way you don’t talk yourself into marking them all.

3.  And of course, the lovely priority questions.  Yes, it’s true, there are tons of these.  Remember  your ABC’s, but also remember that sometimes ABC’s aren’t always what they are looking for.  If all of your patients are stable who do you see first??

4.  Oh, something else I had a lot of.  Study the Black, Red, Yellow, Green triage system.  I couldn’t find a great website about this, so hopefully you can find something better in your nursing books.

Three or Four days before boards cut back on studying and try to relax and take some time to let your brain rest.  Spend some time with your family, go see a funny movie, get out of the house.  I still did a few questions a day, but not hundreds a day like the weeks before.   Drive by the testing center the day before so you aren’t stressed about finding it the next morning.  Get a good nights sleep.  Wake up early so you don’t have to rush to get there.  The Sunday before my NCLEX I went to church and had an amazing experience.  I had been so stressed before then that I would almost retch every time I thought about the test.  At church this amazing peace swept over me and I just KNEW I was going to pass.  I hope you can have this feeling going into boards.

In the front of the book are tips on studying for boards and tips on what to look for in the questions.  I read through the tips on what to look for chapter the day before, just as a refresher.

Oh, and our school told us to take snacks and water to the test.  Don’t, you will have to lock everything up and can’t get back in your locker until the test is over.  Take the ear plugs they offer even if you think you won’t need them.  There were others in the room taking court recording tests, so people were typing a mile a minute all around me and it was distracting.

Let me know if you have any questions.  And GOOD LUCK!!!  I hope you will have the letters RN (or LPN) after your name soon!


June 4, 2008 at 10:48 pm 39 comments

I must be crazy

Yesterday I sent away for information about finishing my bachelors degree. I’ve requested information from NKU and UC. I have an appointment next month to tour NKU. Honey, are you reading this?? I forgot to tell you, I made a reservation for you to go with me if you want. :0) At the moment I’m more interested in NKU. It’s closer and a lot less traffic over there than trying to get to UC. Someone at work said “Why do you want to go back?” I was like “I’m stupid I guess.” I’m not really ready to go back. I’m still learning so much at work and attending classes at work to get some certificates that I need. But, I need to start researching and getting ready now if I want to start in the fall or next spring. I might be able to take some classes that I need at the junior college that I graduated from, it will depend on what I still need. I have most of my courses finished, just a couple prerequisites and then the nursing courses.

Speaking of learning at work. Isn’t it scary that I’m already training people?? I’ve had an orienty with me every day for the past week or so. Some days I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job of teaching them. Other days are so crazy and busy that they just run along behind me for the ride. I just try to tell them like everywhere some days are good and some days are bad. Of course our bad days usually mean that we’ve got one or more patients that should be in the ICU, but aren’t.

I wonder who we need to write to about getting a law passed to set nurse to patient ratios in Kentucky?? In California TCU nurses are not allowed to have more than four patients, even at night. On our floor we can have up to 5 during the day, 6 in the evening, and 8 at night. That is s0000 no safe. We’re considered a critical care floor, but I have to take care of 6 patients?? And that’s not just patient care. The evening is the worst time for getting slammed with admissions. So, I’m doing all of that paperwork, filing, signing off orders, putting information into the computer, printing care paths off, and trying to keep up with six critical patients. Plus we don’t have a charge nurse at that time to help with any of it. Sometimes we luck out and have a float nurse to help, but she has to help two different floors at once. So, we usually end up doing it on our own anyway.

OK, I need to get ready for work. Thanks for listening to me complain. Two more days of work and then LAS VEGAS!!! WOOHOO!!

February 19, 2008 at 6:12 am Leave a comment

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