Passing the NCLEX

Passing the NCLEX

Yes, I was one of those unfortunate souls who got every single question on the NCLEX…but guess what? I passed! We all know you can pass OR fail in as low as 75 questions, up to all 265. I already heard from several of my classmates who passed in just 75 questions the week before. That was going to be me too, of course. My mind started spiraling when I hit question #76 and I became sick when I hit the 200s. Everyone I started testing with finished hours before me. Soon I was all alone. It was agonizing not knowing if I was just one question away from seeing a black screen or not. 265 questions and 5 hours later, I sat in the parking lot, called my mom, and cried. I couldn’t stop panicking. I was convinced I failed and left feeling so unsure of myself. I was frantically trying to remember what the last question was and if I got it right or wrong. I don’t recommend trying to think about any of the questions or answers by the way!

When I got home, I tried the Pearson VUE trick and it seemingly worked. However, I couldn’t stop sulking until I got my official results 48 hours later. You have to pay for expedited results, but it was worth every penny to end my misery. I was then crying tears of joy and my parents took me out for dinner and drinks 😊 I was proudly one of Michigan’s newest RNs!

Our school exclusively used Kaplan as a resource and their books/practice Qs were all I used. (Unfortunately, I have no experience with HESI or ATI so I can’t tell you how well those prepare you). We took a mandatory 2-week in-person course after graduation and then studied on our own until we felt ready. I graduated early May and took it on June 24th. I took a mini-vacation after graduation and then spent ~6 weeks solely dedicated to studying. How much time you need to prepare depends entirely on you. While I felt prepared for what would be tested on, I was not prepared for the actual testing experience. You go the testing center, get fingerprinted, have your picture taken, and wait with people who are taking a variety of other exams. Then, you are called into a small computer room with big cameras behind you. There are big, bulky headphones waiting at your station. No talking or looking around. It was very impersonal and unwelcoming. The experience is what you’d imagine it to be. Yet, I didn’t imagine myself sitting there until I actually was. My best advice is to do some imagery and have meditation techniques in mind beforehand!


  1. Understand how the NCLEX-CAT works but don’t agonize over it. Watch this video about what to expect before you start studying any content. Learn the pass/fail scenarios and then move on.
  2. Your nursing school test scores and overall grades don’t always correlate to NCLEX success à you still need to PREPARE more than any exam before. The studying is not the same and your nursing school notes won’t be enough. You now need to think like a nurse, not just to pass a test.
  3. Take a review course. I’m assuming it will be virtual this year but still take one. It keeps you accountable and allows you to ask questions as you have them.
    The course also taught me how questions will be asked.
  4. Do as many practice questions as possible. I used the Kaplan Content Guidebook (link) that came with the course and answered all the practice Qs in the book and online Qbank. You will get vital feedback about what content areas you need to study the most. They also put your knowledge to the test in different ways. (Do all the remediation too, as annoying as it is)
  5. Practice taking exams like it’s the actual test day. Go to a library cubicle with big headphones, no interruptions, no music, and no notes. Try-out your mindfulness techniques and learn when to take a break (I didn’t take one but should have!)
  6. Don’t assume you’ll pass in 75 questions. Prepare your mind like you’re in it for the long haul. If I had some more endurance with taking up to 265 Qs at a time, I wouldn’t have spiraled so easily.
  7. No one will know or care how many Qs it took you. Your future manager won’t ask, and no one will remember how many times it took you to pass!
    You will STILL get your nursing license.
  8. Take some breaths. You are more prepared than you think you are.
    Be confident in yourself, you got this!

Study Hacks

**Obviously don’t cram, but here is a good cheat sheet that still seems helpful. I can’t guarantee the accuracy since it was made in 2012, but the general concepts are similar.

***STICK TO A CONSISTENT STUDY SCHEDULE. Print out a monthly calendar and fill in all the days/hours you plan to study, with the topics too. Give yourself some off days. Having a pretty, organized calendar makes it more exciting when you’re getting close to the end!

The Content Review Guide that came with the Kaplan course. You can also purchase the NCLEX-RN Prep Plus from Amazon too!

*COVID-19 Changes* (now effective thru Sept 30!)

Some of the best nurses I know didn’t pass the 1st time, so don’t let it get you down if that happens. You WILL pass and be a great nurse! Please feel free to reach out with any questions you have. I’d love to help!



I recently volunteered to exclusively work in our main adult COVID ICU (on my old general care peds unit). There are multiple COVID-19 ICUs and moderate care floors throughout the health system. It is terrifying to see two critically ill adults in each room when there used to be one isolette or crib for relatively healthy children. Every night I learn how to do more and more ICU care to help the primary nurses as much as I can. My first night I helped get a bagged body ready for the morgue. My second night I saw family come to the bedside of a man in his 30s to be with him before he passed. Most patients are intubated and several are on continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT). None of this is fair. None of it seems real. It is very surreal to see room after room with patients maxed out on ventilator settings, sedation, pressors, and barely surviving. In some rooms you can hardly move with all of the IV pumps, machines, supplies, and equipment. I cried the first time I walked the RICU halls, but now feel somewhat immune to the trauma we see at work or watch on TV every day. Then, I find out patients I helped bathe, turn, or draw labs for died that next day and I break down again. My emotions, probably like yours, are all over the place. I can’t always label them but I do know a lot of what I’m feeling is grief. Grief from what our lives were supposed to be like this spring, grief from cancelled events or missed trips, grief from not seeing friends/family, grief from actual death around us, and grief from our old way of life as we transition to a ‘new normal.’

I am thankful however, to have all of the PPE I need to safely enter patient rooms. The entire unit is negative pressure too. This is NOT the reality for many nurses across the US and now some are even getting fired for refusing to work without N95s. While we did sign up for this job to help others, we did NOT sign up to do it without the equipment needed to protect ourselves. Our country was completely unprepared for this pandemic and its essential workers are feeling its detrimental effects the most. The good news is that the curve is flattening thanks to successful mitigation. Please continue to do your part by STAYING HOME until it is deemed safe to leave. You are helping save the world by doing so and the frontline can’t thank you enough. The next time you venture out don’t forget to thank our other crucial frontline staff ~ grocery store employees, postal carriers, truck drivers, bus drivers, chefs, janitors/EVS, and more! Stay strong, we will get through this.


“Just going to hold his hand for a bit, I don’t think he has long.”


“We know from history that when citizens become restless and protest to their leaders about lifting these sanctions too early, another rise in cases invariably occurs. In some places it was worse than the first peak.” -Howard Markel MD

African Americans represent 40% of COVID-19 deaths in MI but only represent 14% of our state’s population. The reasons for this can be attributed to multiple social determinants of health such as having a job that doesn’t allow ‘work from home’, lower income, fewer community resources, comorbidities etc. (this is Nursing 101)!

Proud of our Governor for creating a task force to help understand why these racial disparities are occurring and how we can remedy them.

Please remember you don’t have to be productive during quarantine. We are experiencing a trauma and your only job is to stay home and take care of yourself. Mental health is as much of a priority as physical health so don’t feel pressured into doing anything you aren’t comfortable doing right now. Two articles helped me understand this: A Trauma Psychologist Weighs In & Don’t Feel Like ‘Getting Things Done’?

*Jaanuu is selling cute reusable, antimicrobial masks for when we all have to wear them 🙂
*Love Your Melon also has a face mask/headband collection and FIGS has a mask waitlist
*What I use to sterilize my phone & watch (PhoneSoap) after work, also sold on Amazon