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Failed in 75 1st time, passed in 75 2nd time. Here's my story

Here’s my story in how I failed the NCLEX-RN in 75 questions my 1st time, and how I passed in 75 questions my 2nd time.

Like myself, many of you may be reading this post (and other student testimonials) in order to gain some clarity, or insight in how to pass the NCLEX-RN. You might be first-time test takers, or repeat-test takers. And if you’re a repeat-test taker, you are probably experiencing many of the same feelings/thoughts I experienced after failing, denial...anger…bargaining…depression…and eventually reaching acceptance. Let me tell you, THIS IS COMPLETELY NORMAL. I went through each one of those stages (*shout out to Kubler-Ross*) before finding motivation, clarity, and a clear enough head to study again. And trust me, do not start studying until YOU feel ready. Studying wont be as effective if you are angry/depressed. Once you get to the acceptance stage you’ll be making the most out of your study experience.                          


I failed the NCLEX-RN my first time in 75 questions. This was absolutely gut-wrenching experience. None of it made sense to me since I graduated nursing school with great grades and from a University with one of the highest pass rates in the state. I strictly used Kaplan, my first round of the NCLEX-RN. In fact, I completely EXHAUSTED all the Question Banks, Test Trainers, Practice Tests, etc. to the point where I was re-doing wrong questions. My focus in studying post-graduation was questions, questions, questions. I figured “well I’ve learned all the content in nursing school, I just need to practice questions at this point.” Turns out, I was wrong. I was so focused on getting as many questions done in a day as I could, and while I didn’t realize it at the time, I was taking a passive approach to my learning. If I got a question wrong, I would just read the rationale, hoping to learn the content that way (passively).


After failing my first time in 75 questions, I knew SOMETHING had to change. I needed to change my approach to studying, and my attitude towards the test. I took a little break some studying to reflect, and spend time with family and friends. This was an absolute needed break after studying for 2 months and then failing my first time. This is how I studied and what I found helpful my second time around. I sat in my University’s library 30-40 hours 5 days a week. I gave myself 2 days off a week from studying to take my mind off the test and focused those 2 days on ME. I went on hikes with friends, worked out, cooked, and planned time to spend with my family. During the 30-40 hours a week, I studied Saunders front-to-back, taking notes on things I didn’t know. I then reviewed these notes every day, and this repetition in reviewing my notes helped cement the information in my brain. I did not do one ounce of Kaplan. I figured that since it failed me the first time, this program would probably not be the most helpful or effective. I then got the NCSBN NCLEX-RN Learning Extension. I must say, this program was my life saver! Honestly, I first struggled with the quizzes and end-of lesson quizzes in the Learning Extension. Toward the completion of the program I scored consistently in the 70%’s and saw the occasional 90% and 80%. I thought this program gave me the confidence to answer the questions with my gut, and made me more comfortable answering challenging NCLEX-style questions. I would 100% recommend the NCSBN NCLEX-RN Learning Extension for any first-time or repeat test takers. After all, they are the ONES who create the actual NCLEX-RN in the first place!

While using Saunders and the NCSBN Learning Extension my second round of taking the NCLEX-RN helped ME pass in 75 questions, this method might not work for everyone. My biggest take-away in passing the second time was the time I spent personally reflecting and reflecting on how I could study differently. Instead of taking a passive approach to my learning, I took an active approach.

YOU’VE GOT THIS! This test does not define the nurse you will be or the type of person you are. This is just a little hurdle in the bigger picture of your career. YOU. WILL. BE. A. NURSE. Tell yourself this in the mirror **out loud** before you study, because this is true.

  • Glad I found this post. I too have failed the nclex and got that gut wrenching feeling, not once but four times, but I have come to the agreement that no matter how many times I take the nclex, I will be the best dam nurse I can be. Like you I have done question after question, read saunders and focused on my weakest points. I retake the boards again on April 11 2018, after changing the date three times because I so afraid of failure. Especially after four times. I feel confident that I have learned more in the last 2 months that will help me this time around.