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Jun. 27th, 2013 11:25 pm
pantshead: (Transformers)
[personal profile] pantshead
So, since most of you are on Facebook, you already know that I took, and passed, the exam!  This was a huge relief, as you might imagine.  The job I'll be starting in mid-July was contingent upon passing the exam first.

We sign all sorts of statements saying we won't reveal anything that's on the exam, so I won't.  I will say that it was hard, and I genuinely feared that I had failed it.  I received my Approval To Test 3 weeks to the day after graduation.  I had been worried about this--it wasn't clear exactly how quickly it would arrive, and then I'd heard rumors that "there were no test dates in NYS until after July," which was completely false.  When I received the ATT, I had the choice of taking the exam on the 18th (5 days later) or waiting until at least the 28th of this month to take it.  The only available test center on the 18th was 1.5 hours away, but I decided to go for it anyway.  I was feeling so tense and restless that I thought it would just be better to take it and get it over with.  So, I registered for the 18th and ramped up my studying for the next 5 days!  I also made myself start (trying) to go to bed earlier and get up earlier, since I needed to leave the house at 5:30 in the morning the day of the exam.

I felt reasonably confident the morning of the test, though there were things I wished I'd reviewed more.  The testing center is a medium-high security place--each NCLEX applicant is photographed, fingerprinted, and has an infrared image made of the veins in their palms (more difficult to fake than fingerprints).  I had to empty my pockets and turn them out.  Nothing could be brought in or out of the test room except my driver's license and the key to my locker.  I'd left my cell phone in the glove box, but otherwise they would have sealed it into a bag so that I couldn't look at it on breaks.

The NCLEX has a 6 hour time limit, but the number of questions varies between 75 and 265.  It's an adaptive test, so the theory is that it tries to present questions that you have a 50% chance of getting right, based on your performance on previous questions.  The questions are selected from certain domains (such as "Health Promotion").  They don't publish what percentage of questions you have to answer correctly in order to pass.  The exam simply turns off when you have answered enough questions for it to decide whether you've passed or failed.  I only had 75 questions, but it felt like 1/4 of them were "select-all-that-apply" questions, which are really like 5 or 6 questions in one.

After the exam, I left and drove home, listening to a re-broadcast of Morning Edition that I'd already heard on the way there.  I felt pretty okay for the rest of the afternoon, but by evening I started remembering questions and becoming convinced I'd answered them wrong.  The next day was the same.  I'd try to rationalize--"86% of applicants pass the NCLEX, and you always did well academically," but it didn't help.  If anything, it made it worse--what if I'd graduated at the top of my class, only to fail the exam?  I tried to distract myself by working on a couple of projects, and Eric was very kind to me, but really the only thing to do was grit it out and wait until Thursday morning when I could pay a fee to check my results....


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