The NCLEX-RN Experience: What It's Like to Take the NCLEX


Meris gives advice on how to prepare and study for the NCLEX, what the day of the exam is like, all of the testing security procedures, how hard the exam is, and how long it takes to get results.

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 1:35 How I Prepared Myself the Day Of NCLEX
  • 5:28 What to Expect at the Test Center
  • 11:50 What to Expect During and After the Exam
  • 14:15 Conclusion
  • After the take...

Check out the songs on Meris's confidence-boosting NCLEX prep playlist:

  1. Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
  2. You Make My Dreams (Come True) - Daryl Hall & John Oates
  3. Good Morning - Max Frost
  4. Good as Hell - Lizzo
  5. Thank My Self - Earl St. Clair
  6. SUPERBLOOM - MisterWives
  7. High Hopes - Panic! At The Disco
  8. Heads Will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  9. Make Way - Aloe Blacc
  10. Unstoppable - The Score
  11. Shake It Out - Florence + The Machine

Full Transcript: The NCLEX-RN Experience: What It's Like to Take the NCLEX

Hi! I'm Meris. And in the last video, I talked to you about how I was using Level Up RN to help me prepare for NCLEX.

Well, I'm very excited to tell you that I took NCLEX, and I got 75 questions and passed.

So I was talking to Cathy about my experience with the NCLEX and said, "The NCLEX itself, those questions were not unusual to me." The NCLEX, to me, was kind of like every other nursing exam I've ever taken. I felt really well-prepared for it and I felt that using a test bank to prepare really helped me to be ready for what that NCLEX environment was going to be like when it comes to the test itself.

The part that made me anxious was all of the unknowns surrounding the exam. I was testing in a place that was three hours away from my house. I had registered for the exam, and I read everything that the Internet had to tell me as far as what to expect. But I didn't really know how it was going to go on the day that I showed up.

So I wanted to share with you a little bit about what my test-taking experience was like for NCLEX, because maybe you're a person like me who has anxiety, or who feels better prepared if you know all of the details surrounding an event. And so I want to share a little bit with you about what the day of the NCLEX is going to be like.

So, first and foremost for me, just talking about test preparation and best practices for test-taking, one of the things that I made sure to do was to wake up with plenty of time, so that I was not rushing, I didn't feel under the gun in that respect.

And also, I made sure to get breakfast that morning even though I'm not someone who typically has a large meal for breakfast, I did make sure to have a healthy breakfast that had both carbohydrates and protein to help with that immediate and sustained brain function.

We know how important glucose is for brain function, but I wanted to make sure that I had not just simple carbs and even complex carbs, I wanted to make sure I had some protein to keep me going in the test environment itself. So, make sure you do that.

The other thing is that even though I normally am someone who has coffee in the morning, I did not have any caffeine that morning because I did not want to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and end up with that fight-or-flight response any more than I already would. So I skipped the caffeine to get me so I wasn't feeling jittery or anything like that. And instead, I stayed really hydrated with water only for that morning. Don't worry, I got my coffee right after I took the exam.

So that's a little bit about how I prepared just my body and fueled myself for the day. Because I felt that that was really important to be in the right mindset for taking the NCLEX.

The other thing is I preplanned to call my mentor. And if you don't have a mentor, that's okay, but maybe there's someone who gets you excited, someone who makes you feel confident and prepared, and like you can take on the day. So if you have someone like that, I very highly suggest reaching out to them to have maybe a little bit of a pre-NCLEX pep talk. So I called my mentor, got the pep talk that I needed, and went in feeling strong.

Plus of course, I had an NCLEX prep playlist on Spotify that I was listening to that I had made for myself to get me amped up and ready to go and feeling excited and in the right mindset. Because I think truly, mindset can be everything when it comes to how you're feeling going into the exam.

Another thing that I do, it's the silly thing that I started when I was in nursing school, but when I was a baby nursing student, I started doing the dress well, test well philosophy. So I would always dress up for test days, make sure that my hair and my makeup was on point and that I was feeling good that day. Because there are studies that show that if you are feeling confident in your appearance and how you look, that it actually does affect your performance on exams. At some point, that changed for me, and I started doing something where I was wearing black to exams. And my joke was that if you're going to murder an exam, at least you can wear black to its funeral, at least. So I started doing that when I was in nursing school, and my friend started doing it too. It kind of caught on with my little friend group.

And so we would all wear black to our exams, and we would text each other the night before, "Hey, don't forget. You've got a funeral to attend tomorrow, so you've got to dress in black." And that's something that is just a thing that gives me a little bit of an extra confidence boost.

So I made sure that when I went to take NCLEX, that, obviously, I was dressing in black because I wanted to carry that confidence in with me. And certainly, I did. So that is something that I still very much recommend.

And if you are into those kinds of little superstitions or anything like that, I would invite to give that a try, and see how you feel. But that's a little bit about how I prepared myself for the day, and how I felt ready and confident to tackle NCLEX.

So when it comes to the actual NCLEX itself, showing up to the test center, and everything along those lines, if you are not intimately familiar with where you're going to be testing, such as me, where I had to drive for a significant amount of time to get there, I would recommend the night before or hours in advance, making sure that you can drive by, find it, feel comfortable with where you're supposed to be going.

So I actually did that the night before because I stayed in a hotel, so I wouldn't have to deal with traffic or anything like that, found it out, figured out where to park, where to go, and all of those kinds of good things so that on test day I would be very sure that I knew how long it would take me to get there, and where I needed to go.

On the actual day, I showed up early, because again, anxiety. I showed up early, and I sat in the parking lot for an embarrassing amount of time, I'm not even going to tell you how long, but I sat in the parking lot for a long time and listened to that Spotify playlist of mine. And then I went in. I went in and I was about maybe about a half-an-hour early. They had said to arrive about a half-an-hour early, so I was maybe 20 minutes earlier than that. But I was just nervous. So I went in, and I figured that the worst they would do is tell me, "You need to go away and come back in 10 more minutes." So I did that, but they were ready for me.

When I went in, I was very concerned that I was going to bring something I wasn't allowed to or something along those lines. So what I did, was I took a little clear sandwich bag, and I put my ID in it, and then I took just my car key and I put it in that bag as well. I left everything else in my car. So my phone, my Apple watch, my wallet, all of those things, I locked them in the trunk of my car. And that way, they're just not there at all. I know some people say that they were provided lockers and they could put things in them, but I have friends who took NCLEX elsewhere who said that they were specifically returned to their car and told, "You need to put these things in your care." So I think it's just better to come with nothing.

You are also allowed to wear a light sweater or something like that if you are concerned you might be cold. I was too afraid to do that. I was afraid that I was going to look suspicious or something. Because, again, anxiety. So I did not wear anything like that. I just wore my black shirt for my confidence. And then I wore jeans as well.

When I went in, they checked me in, and they asked me for my name, my appointment time, what exam I was taking, because lots of different exams go on in those test centers. Then I provided them with my identification. They then took a photo of me for security purposes so that they can show, "Yes. The person on the photo is the person who came to test."

They asked me some questions about things I had brought with me. They offered the opportunity to go to the bathroom as well.

And then, one of the things that I was kind of surprised about, was that they do a palm vein scan. So what this is is that they actually have a little box, and you will be asked to place your hand on the box, and it will scan the veins in your palm. Don't ask me why. I truly do not understand the purpose of this. But that is something that you have to do for NCLEX. So you do right hand, left hand. And they have that on record.

And then when you go into the exam, you place your palms there again. And any time you leave the room or go back in, you will do that as well. So if you have to take a bathroom break midway through, you'll do the palm vein scan on your way out and on the way back in. And that's just going to be kind of standard protocol. So be aware and be expecting that.

So once I was all check-in and registered, they asked me to go put my car key in a locker. So we were provided a locker, and I was asked to bring my identification with me. They took me over to the test administrator, and she checked me in. She had my ID. She had me take my glasses off, and I placed them on a little rotating platform. And she examined them just to make sure that they are, in fact, just glasses to help me see, and nothing else.

And then she asked me a couple of questions as well. She had me turn my pockets inside out to prove that I didn't have anything in my pockets. Had me pat down my own legs and everything like that to prove that there was nothing up my pant legs.

And I was not wearing long sleeves. But if I had, she would have asked me to pull my sleeves up. So then, she actually had my ID again, and she had me do the palm vein scan. She kind of explained to me that when you go in the room, you're going to be seated at this table.

They did offer me earplugs, but I did not want them. Because I felt that they might be a little bit distracting for me.

But instead, I was able to use noise-canceling, over-the-ear headphones that they provided to me. So I did use that. There is a camera above you in your little test cubicle, so they can see you and record you at all times. So just know that they are watching, and that's good. That's okay, but just be prepared.

And then she told me that any time that I need anything, if I had a problem with the exam, if I needed to use the restroom or take a break, and when I was done with the exam, to just raise my hand. And don't move, don't do anything, just raise my hand.

The other thing is that I was provided a laminated sheet of paper and a dry-erase marker type of thing, and I was told that I may have as many of those as I want, and I can write on it as soon as the test begins. I can write anything I want to on it. However, don't erase it.

So again, if you fill up that whole piece of laminated paper, raise your hand and they will bring you a new one.

So that was something that I was very cognizant of, because I didn't want to be kind of in the mindset and then just quickly erase it.

So that was something that I was not prepared for, but I was ready to go.

And we went in, I sat down, and started my exam.

Once I began my exam, it asked me a couple of questions. It gave some information on how NCLEX was going to go, and then it started. And it looked like an exam that I had taken before. There was nothing out of the ordinary, and I kind of just tried to treat it like it was any other exam. I didn't try to read too much into it and, "Which kinds of questions am I getting?" and that sort of thing.

I just tried to answer each question to the best of my ability and move on.

So after the period of time where I was testing, I got to question 75. I hit Next, and it kind of shut off.

It said, "You have reached the end of your test questions," basically.

And then it asked me if I would do some trial questions, that these are not counted as part of your score, but these are to help them design the best version of NCLEX they can, moving forward.

And I was very nervous, but I said, "Sure."

Those questions took me a surprisingly long amount of time, so just be aware that that is something that you're going to have to-- if you choose to do that, it might take you some time.

When I finished those questions, then I was given kind of some survey questions about NCLEX. "How was your experience? Was the software easy to use? Was your experience in the testing center easy?" That sort of thing.

Once I finished those questions, then it just said, "Thank you very much," and it told me I was done. So then, I raised my hand and waited very quietly until the test or administrator came.

She asked me if I was done, and I said, "Yes." And she took me out. She escorted me out.

On the way out, I put my hand on the palm vein scanner again, and then I was told that I was good to go.

And so I gathered my car key from the locker and went to my car.

My experience in the state where I live, which is Ohio, was that I received my results from the Board of Nursing the following morning.

So that next morning, I had an email from the Board of Nursing saying, "Congratulations. You've passed your exam," and they attached my license, which you can see on the wall behind me.

So that was my experience with NCLEX. I really felt very good about the exam being similar to all the test prep materials I had ever used, all of the NCLEX-style questions I had ever taken. Nothing in the exam content itself was shocking or unique to me.

So I wanted to just share my experience with you in case that might help you to feel a little bit better prepared for when you take NCLEX. If you have any questions that I can answer for you, please leave a comment below. Let me know. I'm more than happy to answer them.

I hope this helps. If you like this video, I would love it if you could give it a like, a comment, and maybe even subscribe to the channel. That would be so wonderful because we have a lot more content to share with you coming up, and I can't wait for you to see it. Thanks so much, and happy studying.


Blaaaaahhhhhh. [laughter] Okay, [inaudible] if that was good. Whew.

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The newer next Gen version is now in affect any advice for this?


Hi, I will be taking my boards in the state of MA this fall. We have multiple platforms that we’ve used for tasting, but my school swears by ATI. I’ve also heard that the nclex is nothing like ATI so I feel a bit lost as far as how to approach practice questions for my boards. I’d really appreciate your advice! Thank you!


Hi Nurse Shuwarger
I will take my nclex this Feb. Any other tips? We have Kaplan at my University.
Thank you for taking the time out to share.


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