NCLEX Studying and When is it the “Perfect” Time to Take it?

There’s not a “Perfect” Time to Take the NCLEX

Taking notes the way that helps me best

I graduated in May of 2021 in the midst of a pandemic. My goal/plan was to take my NCLEX in the middle of June after graduation. Well, my sister’s wedding was at the end of June and I was a bridesmaid; I too am getting married in the year of 2021. The main reason I had planned on taking the NCLEX in the middle of June was because I had seen so many blog posts, Instagram posts, and Pinterest posts saying I should take my exam a month after graduation so I didn’t forget any information and I wanted to get my exam done before all four of the weddings I was in in 2021. Well, if I’m being honest, life happened and I had a lot on my plate with all the weddings. My goal blew up in my face, or so I thought at the time. With my sister’s wedding scheduled right after I had planned on taking my exam, I started to get behind on my UWorld questions (that I had originally purchased for 2 months), there’s roughly 2200 questions to get through. 

Along with the posts saying to take my exam a month after graduation, I saw posts that said to complete 75 questions a day to be ready and get through the questions in a month for the NCLEX. So, graduation was on a Saturday and starting the following Monday I planned on completing my 75 questions a day. Well, Monday came rolling around, I was able to complete 25 questions in about 2+ hrs. After those two hours, I was EXHAUSTED! While taking those 25 questions I was writing down notes from the questions that I couldn’t remember from nursing school. 

Writing things down was my lifesaver throughout nursing school. It was also my crutch. That being said, that’s when I realized there’s no one perfect way to study for the NCLEX (different ideas for studying to come). When I realized how long it was taking me to get through the questions and feel like I was truly getting out of them what I felt I needed; I started contemplating taking my exam later than mid June. I received the email saying my subscription to UWorld was about to expire towards the end of June and I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish all of the questions before that time. So, I didn’t schedule my exam and I purchased UWorld for 2 more months. I felt awful about pushing back my exam. I felt like I was letting myself down, my family down, and my future job down. I felt like I was getting behind each and every day because I wasn’t getting 75 questions done a day. I continuously thought I could be doing better, completing more questions, studying more, and doing less wedding things. Below is the link to one of the study guides I used to study, check out this wonderful nurse! 

As time went on, I realized that was the best decision I could have made for myself at the time. I had an aunt at my sister’s wedding tell me this, “these are the memories you’re not going to get back. You’re at that time in your life that numerous people are getting married and you’re never going to get to experience this again.” Those were some of the most inspirational words I needed to hear at the time. I had been feeling guilty about missing out on wedding events with my friends that were getting married due to studying or doing things for the NCLEX. 

If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s to not give myself such a hard time when it comes to not meeting a specific goal that evidently wasn’t right for me. Let’s be honest, life happens and it throws a wrench in your plans. There is not a “perfect” time to take the NCLEX and no one can tell you when it is your perfect time. For me, my perfect time is 4 and a half months after graduation, after 2 of the weddings I was a bridesmaid in, and before my wedding. I’ve used my past notes, UWorld, and other nurses study guides I’ve found online. There’s many resources to choose from that are best for each individual’s personal type of learning. And god forbid if other life events came up, I could reschedule my exam. 

Everything has to be a balance

My mental health is the most important when it comes to my life. Making sure I’m not putting my test before eating healthy, or getting exercise and fresh air. I’ve come up with systems to give myself breaks. For example, I’ll watch a roughly 45 minute TV show to give myself a quick break from taking questions and it gives me plenty of time to eat some fruit or veggie straws that I may otherwise “forget” (studying and not listening to my stomach) to eat. More on strategies to check in with one’s mental health to come. Please check out my ‘Mental Health’ post to check out which books have helped me thus far. The beautifully wonderful author, Rupi Kaur has words of wisdom that touched my soul specifally when I needed it.

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