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How I prepared and passed the Canadian NCLEX-RN Exam - Exams - Nurses Arena Forum

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How I prepared and passed the Canadian NCLEX-RN Exam by Idowu Olabode : August 11, 2016, 08:01:55 AM
I wrote the NCLEX RN on Wednesday, August 3, 2016. Like most of the other authors on this site, I wanted to share my experience in the hope that it would help someone else.

As some of you may know, the NCLEX recently came to Canada in January 2015. While all nursing schools in Canada were well aware of the impending change very few altered their curriculum to address the changes from the old exam the CRNE to the new exam, NCLEX. The exams differed quite drastically, with the old exam focusing more on psychosocial content. This left many new graduates feeling unprepared to take the NCLEX and unsurprisingly, the pass rate was very low for the first cohort that took the test, around 60% or so.

Fortunately, I was very lucky and went to an accelerated program in Toronto, ON Canada, that did take the NCLEX very seriously. Throughout our program they incorporated SATA questions into quizzes, had three or four prep sessions on strategies and content of the NCLEX, offered NCLEX workshops and we did the HESI. Although to be honest, when I graduated in June 2016, I was still a bit wary about the NCLEX and what to expect.

On to my study plan! Prior to starting my consolidation placement in the Emergency Department at a Level 1 Trauma Centre, I erroneously thought I would be able to study throughout consolidation. However, I quickly realized that after my shifts I just wanted to sleep and didn't have it in me to study. The one thing I did do is purchase Uworld in January. I generally did about 20- 50 questions a week and that was it. I was also scoring really low on a lot of the questions at that point. However, mid way through my placement our school did the HESI. I was pleasantly surprised when I scored in the 96% percentile. I think it was because in the ED I saw so many conditions and this really prepared me for the content of this exam.

My consolidation ended around June 30 2016, and I had completed about half of the Uworld question bank at that point. I scheduled my exam for August 3, 2016 giving myself a good month of studying. Originally, I had made a study plan but I didn't stick to it at all. Also, since I had scored so well on the HESI, I had a bolster of pseudo confidence. Which after taking the NCLEX I can safely say the HESI is much easier than the NCLEX!

The first week of July, I worked four days a week at my job doing research and the other three I did Uworld questions. I did around 100 - 200 a day.

The second week I once again worked four days and the three other days I read the maternity section of Saunders. I took detailed notes of the chapter and would do tests in Uworld with just maternity questions. The reason I started with maternity because it was my first placement in nursing school and so, I had basically not reviewed anything on it for two years.

The third week I once again worked four days a week and I read the fundamentals section of Saunders. As I was reading the chapter I made charts in a google doc about bed positions, blood transfusions etc. I found it much faster and easier to search than written notes.

The last week I took off work and decided I needed to really focus. I spent about 6 - 8 hours a day studying every day. I found that with the pressure of an upcoming exam I was really focused and didn't get distracted. I would get up around 7 or 8 and just keep going until around 5. I finished all of Uworld, took detailed notes of the rationales, listened to all of Mark K's lectures and took notes and reviewed areas that I was weak: maternity, developmental milestones and infection control. By the end of this week, I had three notebooks filled with notes. I am a visual learning so I wrote all my notes in three colours and would colour code things e.g. labs would only be written in pink, medications only in blue and side effects in green etc. I also drew a number of pictures to link information.

At the beginning of the week I realized I definitely did not have the time to read through all of Saunders and I decided to purchase the NBSCN learning extension. It was around $50, and I highly recommend it. It was much easier to read than Saunders and it provides only the need to know information. I went through the first five sections and took notes on each area. I also completed the entire question bank. Right before my exam, I was scoring between 70-80% on each quiz in NBSCN and 70-90% in Uworld (part of this high score was that I was getting questions I had already gotten before).

The day before the exam, I reviewed a little bit but mainly went to the gym, did yoga and watched a movie. I felt nervous because I was unsure about what the exam would actually be like but also, confident in my knowledge.

The day of the exam! I woke up early, my exam was at 0800 AM, ate some breakfast and had a tea. I then biked to my exam, which was about a 30 mins bike ride away. I ended up arriving 30 mins early for my exam. When I entered the testing centre I give the receptionist my ID and she asks me to sign my signature on an electronic pad. I sign in and she looks at my ID and she looks back at the signature and she's like, "these signatures don't match". I am a bit baffled, but she says that one letter is not the same. I don't really know what to do, so I start pulling out IDs trying to prove to her that I am who I say I am. I am sweating a fair bit at this point, thinking about how I am going to have to pay another $360 to take this exam (in Canada the NCLEX is $360!), just catastrophizing like crazy! Luckily, I have another ID that matches the signature and she agrees to let me in. But wow! I was getting a bit nervous. So, that was not the best start to my exam and needless to say I was a bit riled up as I walked to my desk. But I told myself it was ok, I took some deep breaths and I reminded myself to take my time and read each question slowly.

The test! The first few questions were OK. However, prior to the exam, I had imagined they would be a bit easier. I took my time with each question and read through them twice. As I progressed through the exam, I didn't notice a large jump in difficulty. I had a few medications that I had no idea what they were, priority questions and a fair number of SATAs (20 -25) but it didn't seem to be getting that much harder. When I did get a very difficult question I did give myself permission to get it wrong. I did this because I didn't want to psych myself out and dwell on wrong answers. I just chose the answer I thought best and moved on. It helped me stay focused and not lose morale. When I got to 75 questions and it didn't shut off, not only did I get a bit nervous because of that, but the questions also got easier! My test ended at 85 questions and the last 10 questions were quite basic and this really scared me!

As I walked out of the exam I was numb. I felt in my heart that there was no way that I passed that exam, especially since the questions got easier at the end. I called my friends and family and told them flat out that " i just failed my licencing exam". I cried all night. I had two job offers at that point and I was thinking of calling them and letting them know that I failed and wouldn't be able to start. I couldn't sleep. It was awful! Moreover, my program has a 98% pass rate on the NCLEX, so I was also feeling like a failure that I would be one of 2 or 3 people in our entire class to fail.

I wrote my exam around 0800 and around 1300 I decided to do the PVT. I entered my credit card and changed the expiry date, pressed submit and I got the good pop up. I still couldn't believe. After reading a few posts about the PVT, I also saw that it was best to do it later in the day in case they re-score your test. I waited a few more hours and tried again. This time, I must have entered the wrong credit card information because I got "invalid credit card number". In my sleep deprived state, I mistakenly thought that this was the bad pop up and felt devastated! I tried to distract myself but I keep dwelling on it and was thinking about how I would change my study plan next time I took my exam, which programs I would purchase etc. Luckily, the next morning, 24 hours after my exam I tried again and this time entered the correct numbers and got the good pop up. I got my results on Friday and I passed!

I hope this helps out some new grads in some way, especially for test takers that get easier questions at the end of the exam. This does not mean you fail! It might just mean that the computer was making sure you knew basic things that it didn't ask earlier or you got an easy question wrong and they want to double check you know it. Also, the PVT appears to work in Canada, so all you Canucks can keep that in mind. Cheers!

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