After proceeding through various security measures—fingerprints, photographs, and palm vein scans—I sat in front of that infamous computer terminal. The last two-and-a-half years of my life had been leading up to this moment. I took a deep breath and clicked “Start.”
It wasn’t that bad—I kind of pretended I was sitting at home doing practice questions on my laptop. I had beyond my fair share of the dreaded SATAs (select all that apply) which supposedly is a good sign—I’ve heard that they’re considered upper-level questions and if you’re getting a lot of them then more than likely you’re above the passing line.
For those of you who may not know, the NCLEX-RN can be anywhere from 75 to 265 questions (which is why they give you up to six hours to complete the exam). Obviously, everyone wants to only get 75 questions. And most people whose exam cuts off after 75 questions do seem to pass. But it’s all about demonstrating minimum competency. If you’ve accomplished that by 75 questions then that’s great but if not the computer will usually continue to give you more questions so that you can try to dig yourself “out of the hole” so-to-speak and get above that line. Contrary to popular belief, it is also possible to fail with 75 questions. How you answer those first 20 or so questions sort of determines your general competence level. Get most of them right and you position yourself comfortably above the passing line; however if you start off not doing so hot…
After I clicked the radio button for my answer to #75, I hovered my mouse hesitantly over the “Next” button. With one eye shut, holding my breath (and before I passed out), I clicked…and the screen went blank!
It was over!!
Afterward there’s a survey, another palm vein scan (they wanna make sure you’re still you and all), and they send you packing.
And then you wait…
This is truly the nerve-wracking part. The waiting. Official exam results can take weeks to receive in the mail; quick-results can’t be obtained for 48 hours. What on earth are you supposed to do in the meantime? Most people opt for the “Pearson Vue Trick” aka “PVT.” This is an unofficial way of checking whether you passed or not. Basically you log on and attempt to register for the exam again. If the system doesn’t allow you to register again and you get a popup that says something along the lines of “you’ve already registered for this exam, contact your board” you passed. However, if the credit card page comes up, then…sorry, you did not. A nifty little step-by-step guide can be found here.
So I did the PVT and got the “good” popup (make sure the status says “delivery successful” otherwise it’s too early to do it) so I was feeling pretty good. And the very next day my RN license was already posted on the state website—I don’t think you can get much more official than that! I’m a nurse! 😀
To those who have yet to take the exam be encouraged, be confident, and kick NCLEX butt! Good luck!