They say that third time’s the charm, right? Well, for me it was. I am proud to say that, as of May 4, 2017, I AM OFFICIALLY AN RN. I’ll start with a spark notes summary of each test experience, and then break it all down to the cost of NCLEX, the PearsonVue Trick (PVT) and my detailed blurb of my experiences.
First NCLEX attempt –
October 5, 2016 – Fairfield – 8:00am to 11:00am
117 questions – two bathroom breaks
Lots of SATA and Prioritization
Study Method: NCLEX RN Mastery App ($30), Minimal studying
Distraction: Overconfident, Did not study much, Trip to China week later
Second NCLEX attempt –
January 6, 2017 – Oakland – 7:35am to 9:30am
75 questions – one bathroom break
7 SATA, 4 math, lots of prioritization, easy last question
Study Method: Kaplan Self-Paced ($350), Five 75 Question Practice Tests a week
Distraction: SFSU RN-BSN orientation that afternoon and RN License Deadline same day
Third NCLEX attempt – PASSED
May 2, 2017 – Oakland – 12:45pm to 5:40pm
265 questions – one bathroom break
50 SATA, 37 prioritization, 2 drag-drop, 2 math
Study Method: UWorld ($79), Five+ 75 Question Practice Tests a week
Distraction: Financial issues, New position orientation week later
The NCLEX-RN, aka National Council Licensure EXam, is a nationwide test that RN program graduates are required to pass in order to obtain their RN License. It is a computer-based test, meaning that the number and types of questions you will be given are based off of your prior answers.. in short: each test is unique.
You get anywhere from 75 questions minimum to 265 questions maximum (as you can see from my three separate experiences). Out of the first 75 questions, there are 15 that are “pilot” questions and don’t count toward your test. There are different question types: Multiple Choice, Select All That Apply (SATA), Drag and Drop (place in order), Math (fill in the blank, variable rounding).. some Multiple Choice are Prioritization questions.
It costs $200 to apply for your ATT, aka Authorization to Test, which allows you to register for a test date. Once receiving that ATT email/letter, you have to pay another $150 to take the test. During my NCLEX testing timeframes, the wait time was about 8 weeks to get a new ATT.. and another $350 for each time you retake NCLEX.
Pearson Vue Trick
After a stressful 75+ questions, most people want to know if they passed or not. Some say to wait, some say the PVT informs them right after taking the test. But does it work?? Yes. The PVT does work. After failing twice and passing my third time, I can attest to the PVT.
If you passed, PearsonVue will not allow you to sign up for another test. The “pop up” that I received was: “Our records indicate that you have recently scheduled this exam. Another registration cannot be made at this time.” with a red triangular sign and white exclamation point. Rumor has it, there is another “pop up” that states your test results are on hold.. this I have no comment on.
If you failed, PearsonVue will allow you to pay for another ATT right after taking NCLEX. Right after taking NCLEX my first two times, I went straight to my car, pulled out my iPhone and tried the PVT. Both of my failed NCLEX attempts led to my payment information being confirmed and an empty heart.
My NCLEX Experiences
Right after finishing my LVN-RN Bridge program, I had to wait 3 months to get my FIRST ATT (August 2016). The wait was killed and I contacted the BBB because a majority of my classmates had already received their ATT, but at the same time I didn’t want to take another test after all the stress of passing my finals. I took two trips down to Los Angeles during this wait time, and focused on working full-time to pay back the debt I had accumulated during that quick 8 months. *Flashing back to my first NCLEX experience (for my LVN license): I took a break for several months, focused on working full-time as an RCFE administrator and passed without studying. My logic for my first NCLEX-RN attempt? If I pass it the first time, I pass it. If not, then I’ll study..
Bad logic. I did use my NCLEX RN Mastery app occasionally.. but also wasn’t getting too many correct. I signed up for an 8am test time, went to bed late then jumped out of bed early, had breakfast with coffee, had to go to the bathroom twice during my test due to the coffee, and was not used to sitting and focusing on a test for thaaat long that I was just antsy and started guessing at like 5 questions before I got myself back together. My mind was also constantly going to the thoughts of my trip to China a week after my test date.
My SECOND ATT took a little over 2 months (December 2016). I had contacted the BBB (Better Business Bureau) again to complain about how long it was taking and got my ATT the next week. I was panicking because I got accepted into San Francisco State University’s RN-BSN program, but this required me to pass NCLEX and get my RN License by January 8th. And to top it off, orientation was on January 6th.. which happened to be the ONLY available test date.. so I was distracted thinking about making it to orientation on time right after finishing my test.
I was maybe 1/10 of the way through my Kaplan self-paced program, and didn’t take it seriously. I focus better sitting in a classroom, however, I could not afford to take time off of work to attend a $500, week-long program. I do regret paying the $350, and now wish I just paid for the Kaplan Qbank, for $59/month. And although I was using the “Kaplan” study techniques to the best of my ability at that time.. my test stopped at 75 questions.. with the last question being an easy one.
My THIRD ATT took 2 months (March 2017). My family (father and siblings) got hit pretty hard financially. My LVN position with the county was through an agency, and that was at risk of getting cut, so I was in the process of trying to get a set position within the county. We also found out that one of our relatives had cancer, and that threw me off-track. ..along with a few other stressors. I had literally had at least three breakdowns and the stress was causing my eczema to flare up along with physical, mental and psychological exhaustion.
I had been using UWorld for about 2.5 months, trying to squeeze in questions between work and other things.. and having it as an app on my phone was very helpful. I found that I strongly preferred UWorld, due to their rationales. I was pulling 40s on 75 questions when I was multi-tasking, but pulled high-50s to 60s when I was focused. Then, about two weeks before taking NCLEX, I was focusing on a cousin gathering that was coming up.. and although gatherings are stressful, they are a HUGE stress-reliever for me. I love being around family, even if we’re just sitting around at home.
I didn’t tell anyone I was taking my boards again. I signed up for an afternoon time slot. I cleared my mind. And I didn’t let myself get antsy.. I took my time and let myself take a few minutes to reset when I felt any anxiety. I do admit, I had diarrhea for two days prior from all the butterflies and anxiety.. but come test time, I had cooled down.
And low, and behold.. just in time for the end of my third decade.. I passed the dreaded NCLEX-RN on my third try. If you’ve got any questions or comments, feel free to add them in the reply box below, and I will get to them as soon as I can.
‘Til next post,