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The 7 stages of taking the NCLEX

Preparing for and taking the NCLEX is definitely a roller coaster. Here are 7 stages you can expect — from one nurse to all the nurses to be!

Stage 1: Good intentions

It’s October. Your professors encourage you to begin reviewing now. “What a peaceful, brilliant idea,” you think. You purchase your review book and feel accomplished, simply by having it in your possession. “I’m going to start doing practice questions months in advance, just a few here and there,” you tell your classmates. “I’ll be totally prepared and won’t ever get overwhelmed. I’m going to start doing that. Soon …”

Stage 2: Procrastination

“… I have plenty of time. I deserve a little downtime after the end of the fall semester. Besides, it’s the holidays. I’m picking up extra work hours and I’m not going to retain anything, anyway …”


“… I just need to get through clinical and finals, then I’ll really buckle down …”


“… I’ve graduated nursing school! What an enormous relief and accomplishment. I’m going to be a nurse. It’s time to let loose and celebrate. I’ll start studying Monday …”

Stage 3: Nose to the grindstone

“… T-4 weeks until the NCLEX. Time to get busy. I’ve got this …”


“… I’m feeling great about this upcoming weeklong review class. This will really put all of that material into perspective …”


“… How can I spend 10 hours a day, five days in a row, on all of nursing science and still only be touching on the highlights? …”


“… So many questions, so many questions! …”


“… What’s the first priority? Man alive, what’s the first priority!?!?! …”

Stage 4: The night before

“… The best thing to do the night before the test is get a good night’s sleep …”

Stage 5: Doomsday

“… Test day. Try to relax. Try to stay calm. Try not to throw up on the testing center computer. Try not to pee my pants. Did I get that one right or wrong? RIGHT OR WRONG? …”


“… The computer shut off. Did it shut off because I passed or DID IT SHUT OFF BECAUSE I FAILED? For the love of all things, can someone tell me please. I answered 137 questions. Is there anyone out there who can tell me what that means? …”

Stage 6: Waiting with severe & immobilizing self-doubt

“… I failed. I know I failed. I’m going to apply for a job at Starbucks. A career in coffee, that’s what nursing school was all about …”

Stage 7: Jubilation

“… I passed the NCLEX. I can’t believe it. I won! I won!”

Your turn

Good luck to all of you graduating nursing students out there! Have you already taken the NCLEX? Which of these stages did you experience?

By | 2015-05-28T05:00:52-04:00 May 28th, 2015|Categories: Archived|1 Comment

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