I was reading a long discussion in that huge NCLEX forum (allnurses) about a very emotional topic! It was basically about how many tries is too many when taking the NCLEX. Or when should you give up?
It’s a very emotional topic because those that have failed want to hear positive feedback. Repeat test-takers often feel hopeless if it’s been several times of not passing.
Will I ever pass?
If I do pass, will anyone want to hire me?
Why did I even go to nursing school? Why did I waste all this money?
Maybe nursing isn’t for me.
How do I explain this to my family and friends?
Those that have failed are looking for advice in the forums. They are looking for that little piece of knowledge that will be the clincher for passing. Or maybe someone else is in the same situation. In the forums there are some words of encouragement. I also hear strong opinions on why the student should stop trying, stop wasting their money and consider another field. I’m pretty sure that’s not what repeat test-takers want to hear!
I’m here to tell you: I feel strongly that you shouldn’t give up.
The Hope Method
I don’t want you to keep paying for a test that you are not passing if you don’t study or study very little. Just taking the test every 45 days, in the “hopes” that this will be the lucky time you pass is wishful thinking. The Hurst Review talks about “The Hope Method”. “I hope I pass” isn’t good enough. You need to work at it. So, for my “hopefuls” — it’s been too many tries for you. Either look for something else to do in life or actually get down to business and start re-learning that content. Also, if you practice random questions here and there, that’s not enough.
And please, don’t fall into the trap, “it’s not about the content, it’s about critical thinking”. Some students hear that statement and think it’s a free pass to not study. That is a totally FALSE statement. It’s ALL about the content. As Mark Klimek says, “you can’t apply what you don’t know”.
The Hard Worker
But you say, “I did every review! I do study! I still can’t pass!” You’re not in the “hope category”. You are the student that studies so hard, studies so much and still can’t pass. Don’t give up. I’m telling you DON’T GIVE UP. There could be 2 issues going on. Either:
- You’re using the wrong materials
- Or you are just not good at answering NCLEX-style questions
Using the Wrong Materials
If you are repeating the test and you’ve done basic NCLEX review courses, it isn’t going to be enough for you. So only just doing content reviews like Hurst, Klemik, Remar, Rachel Allen, or Anderson (there are many!), will not be enough. Even though I think they are all very good, it just isn’t enough if you are repeating the test! I’d rather have you focus on just one of the reviews and then get yourself a comprehensive NCLEX review book that covers much more content.
So, it hasn’t been too many tries for you. Actually crack open that book, use that one review you liked and paid for and get to work! Too many resources can be confusing.
Answering NCLEX-style Questions
After all that studying, you may have problems answering those pesky questions!
I frequently hear the same things from students that have studied their butts off, know a lot of content and still don’t get very many questions correct.
- “I don’t remember reading that”, and then pick something random. OK, as your tutor, I never want to hear you say that. Good test-takers will try to figure out what the problem in the question is by breaking down words or looking for clues in the answers. They use test-taking strategies.
- “I have no idea, I’ve never heard of that”, and then pick something random. See the pattern here? Mark Klimek has said good test-takers don’t always go through the front door for the right answer, they go through the side door. When that’s not open they go through the cellar door.
- “Oops, I missed that.” I call that CARELESSNESS. If you read too fast and skip over important information, then you need to slow down and actually think about what you are reading. Remember, all the content in the question is related, it’s your job to see what the problem is and interpret that information. So, when you are CARELESS when reading, that tells me you’ll be CARELESS when reading orders at work and then say, “oops, sorry doc, I read that order wrong.” The Board of Nursing isn’t interested in giving CARELESS people licenses.
- “But what if….?” That’s called a) reading into the question, b) over-analyzing c) or making up some crazy exception. When reading a question, it’s OK to interpret the content in the question to say what is happening. But don’t, I repeat, DON’T add additional content to the question.
The Take Away
The bottom line is that it’s been too many tries at the NCLEX if you don’t study or if you spend less than 5 hours a week on studying. If you’re doing random questions here and there and not committing, stop trying, you’re wasting your money. Hey, you don’t even need to fully commit, just 10 hours a week!
For those that study a lot: take my advice and try a different method. Instead of doing review after review, just stick to one review and get a comprehensive NCLEX review book like Saunders. Stop making those common mistakes when answering questions.
Finding a Job After Failing
And finally, don’t be too anxious about finding a job if it’s been a significant time gap between graduating and passing the NCLEX. Put those fears aside. I’ve had plenty of students where it’s been over one year (and up to 10 years) between graduating and passing. They’ve had no trouble finding a job. It may not be their “dream job”, but it’s a stepping stone. Once you have that experience, the nursing world opens up.