10 Busting Myths about the NCLEX exam
There are few common misconceptions regarding the NCLEX that, if believed, could affect how you study and how well you perform on the exam. With this blog, we will help you debunk some of the most common NCLEX exam myths that can help you pass the NCLEX exam the first time.
Myth #1: Answered more than 75 NCLEX Exam questions during the test? You failed.
Reality Check: The NCLEX adheres to the principles of its format as an adaptive computer test or CAT. It means that the testing format is based on how you respond to the questions. The exam lasts up to 5 hours, and everyone answers a minimum of 75 questions to a maximum of 145 questions.
It is not the length of your exam that is most important. Every question was analyzed and screened for difficulty, and your responses to each question determine when the exam ends.
Myth #2: Some NCLEX takers are given a specific number of questions to respond to.
Reality Check: Nobody who takes the NCLEX exam is chosen randomly to answer a set number of NCLEX exam questions. The exam concludes when it is determined with 95% certainty that an NCLEX taker's performance is either above or below the passing standard. It occurs regardless of the number of questions answered or the length of the testing period.
Myth #3: “Select all that apply” means competency at the passing level.
Reality Check: If only it were that easy! Sadly, select all that apply (SATA) questions can be written above the passing level and below minimum level competency.
SATA questions can be challenging, but that also doesn't mean you're answering passing-level questions. The best way to think about these questions is to practice them as much as possible, just as you would for any other aspect of your NCLEX preparation.
Myth #4: If you get similar questions, it means you're answering them incorrectly.
Reality Check: Do not assume that because you're stumbling over your answers. That is not how the NCLEX works. It will not change or re-ask questions that you have incorrectly answered.
Because all exam questions are chosen randomly from a pool of thousands of approved questions, any similarities in topic or disease are purely coincidental. Bottom line: Pay attention to the answer you believe is correct for each item you are presented with, even if it feels familiar.
Myth #5: Most people fail the NCLEX exam the first time they take it.
Reality Check: The exam was taken by 177,394 (first-time US educated nurses) and 11,900 (first-time international educated nurses) in 2020. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing or NCSBN, 86.6% of US-educated nurses and 43.7% of internationally educated nurses who took the exam passed the first time. Boost your self-esteem. The odds are always in your favor with a bit of planning, strategy, and determination.
Myth #6: You must remember everything in order to pass.
Reality Check: You don't have to memorize every information you learned in nursing school, even when it comes to your NCLEX RN notes regarding the medications, disease processes, and nursing diagnoses.
The NCLEX is organized into four major categories and eight subcategories based on the framework Meeting Client Needs:
- Safe and Effective Care Environment
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Physiological Integrity
The main thing to note is that NCLEX assesses your ability to use critical thinking skills to make nursing decisions. With the strategic approach and necessary tools, you can break down each question and arrive at an answer systematically.
Myth #7: Being a computer expert is necessary before taking the NCLEX
Reality Check: You do not need to be a computer whiz when taking the NCLEX. When you arrive for the exam, the test administrator gives you an orientation and walks you through a tutorial that discusses how to use the keys and record your answers. There are only two keys to use when taking the exam: the space bar to move the cursor and the enter key to highlight and lock your answer. The tutorial also explains how to respond to questions that do not have a multiple-choice format.
Myth #8: Every NCLEX question counts
Reality Check: It may seem like a common assumption for any exam, but it is incorrect for the NCLEX. The NCLEX uses you as a test subject to try out new questions that aren't yet part of the scored exam. Each NCLEX tester's exam contains up to 15 experimental questions, but the exam folks don't tell you which ones are the practical items.
Myth #9: Your first instinct is probably wrong
Reality Check: The NCLEX does not allow you to go back and review previous questions. When you submit an answer, it is permanently gone. The ability to only move forward avoids the pitfall of reconsidering and changing your answers and, as a result, wasting valuable time.
The questions are given one at a time, and you have as much time as you need to review each one before submitting your answer. You must confirm your submission before proceeding to the next question so that you are confident of your choice.
Before submitting your answer, you can change it, but keep in mind that you are more likely to select the correct answer right away because you make your decision calmly and rationally. When you change your answers, you are second-guessing yourself, which leads to uncertainty and doubt, which only grows until you are unsure about everything.
Myth #10: You can't stop until you're finished
Reality Check: Two breaks are scheduled after you sit down at the computer to take the NCLEX. The first break occurs after 2 hours of testing, and the second break occurs after 3.5 hours. You have up to 5 hours to complete the test, the computer will even notify you when it is time to take a break. All you'll have to do is focus on the test.
Taking breaks at predetermined or chosen times counts against your testing time, so don't overdo it. A few minutes away from the test may be worthwhile if you need a quick breath of fresh air and a stretch. Clearing your mind and relaxing your body may be all you need to keep your momentum going, your mind sharp, and your anxiety at bay.
Believe in yourself! Be fully prepared to work to your full potential in terms of knowledge and skill and your ability to get out there and do your best to pass your NCLEX.
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