A Behind-The-Scenes Look at NCLEX-RN® Success

Many students preparing to take the NCLEX-RN exam, fear the unknown. How long should I study? When should I start preparing? How do I know if I’m ready?

If that’s you, check out this detailed, behind-the-curtain look at one student’s journey to NCLEX-RN success . . .

My name is Woojung and I am now a Registered Nurse! WOW. YES. I graduated from the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in May 2020. I took the NCLEX-RN on July 13, 2020, and I passed in 63 questions!

I was SO BLESSED to have won UWorld’s giveaway on Instagram back in May when they were giving away the 90-day subscription that consisted of a 90-Day Qbank and 2 Self-Assessments, so I naturally chose UWorld for my main source of NCLEX prep. I also used NurseAchieve’s mock CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing) exam.

I heard from a lot of graduates and nurses on Instagram that UWorld was the best study tool they would recommend!

My timeline:

  • June 17: I scheduled my NCLEX date for July 13th
  • July 1: I took self-assessment #1 on UWorld
  • July 9: I took self-assessment #2 on UWorld
  • July 10: I took my mock CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing) exam on NurseAchieve
  • July 13: NCLEX EXAM at 8:00 a.m.; PASSED IN 63 QUESTIONS ☺ 

Here’s my story/study plan:

I was loosely studying (10-20 questions a day) until I was able to sign up for my NCLEX date. Having a date actually gave me the motivation to study!!

After picking a date, I did about 25-50 questions per day. I broke them down into 10-25 questions at a time. If you think about it, it’s not that much! I was ranging scores from 30-80%, depending on the size of the test and how focused I was.

I mixed up the question bank (all subjects and systems) each time I did questions. I also did them in tutor mode. I did this so I can resemble the style of NCLEX just a bit more. I would paraphrase and write down EVERY SINGLE RATIONALE, whether I got the question right or wrong.

UWorld does a PHENOMENAL job of explaining why an answer choice is correct or wrong.

Not only does it condense the most important and relevant information, but the format is also just so perfect. I am a sucker for perfect formatting. The features of crossing out the answer choices and being able to highlight words on UWorld was an added plus.

I was getting pretty comfortable with UWorld, so I decided to take my first self-assessment . . .

I sat down at a clean desk with my laptop at 7:45 a.m. I had my earplugs, I had my noise-canceling headphones, and I turned on “Brown Noise” on Youtube. I got rid of all distractions on my desk and tried to mimic the testing environment as much as I could. I started my exam at 8:00 a.m.

July 1: I took self-assessment #1 on UWorld.

I got 44%, 9th percentile; LOW CHANCE OF PASSING.

I was devastated. When I went back to review my exam, I realized that I got every single question past #64 WRONG.

This score scared me. I got pretty good grades in nursing school so I could not believe that this was my score. I had to change my studying habits because I also didn’t have much time left.

I wrote down the paraphrased versions of the rationales of the questions I got wrong. I read through the rationales of the questions I got right. I would answer questions in 20-25 question spurts because I realized that I have QUESTION FATIGUE.

I would take a break after every 20 or so questions. Let my brain rest. THIS WAS AND IS SO CRUCIAL. After my first self-assessment test, I did about 75-150 questions per day, again, splitting it into about 20 questions but this time, but I did the NON-TUTOR MODE. This helped me get into the habit of treating the practice questions like a real exam, not looking things up after every question. This also made studying a lot more efficient.

July 9: I took self-assessment #2 on UWorld.

I got 59%, 44th percentile; HIGH CHANCE OF PASSING.


I took this exam very seriously, mimicked the exam environment, and took it at 8:00 a.m. to practice stimulating my brain. I noticed that taking breaks during the exam was also super helpful because I did not see any major streaks of wrong answers. This was such a good outcome and it boosted my confidence, but I did not feel secure yet. I decided to try NurseAchieve to get a second opinion.

July 10: I took my mock CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing) exam on NurseAchieve.

I got the score of “Pass-Pass” and the exam shut off at 61 questions.

NurseAchieve has a mock CAT exam where the format of the exam is just like the NCLEX. As in, it will shut off when it decides that you passed or failed after a minimum of 60 questions. Then you will get a graph result just like you see above along with the level of question difficulty and the rationales for the questions.

After the two self-assessments telling me that I was going to pass the NCLEX, it was hard to believe, and I still felt like I had to study more! On July 11 (two days before my exam) I went over lab values and I tried to look over the rationales I have been writing down. I also tried to do more questions. Honestly, it did not help too much.


I went hot tubbing; I went for a swim; I relaxed all day. I did go to the testing center to figure out where to go and where to park for the next day so that I wouldn’t have to scramble and be stressed about parking before my exam. 

July 13: NCLEX EXAM at 8:00 a.m.; PASSED IN 63 QUESTIONS ☺ 

Remember to take breaks. No one is chasing you. This exam is important — this is the exam that will determine your career. Slow and steady is better than rushing to finish it.

I actually had about 700 questions unanswered in the QBank solely due to the time crunch I was under, but, if you can, I highly suggest finishing them!

I had TWO questions on the NCLEX that were EXACTLY the same as the ones I had on UWorld. I’ve never heard anyone say that before, but I was super lucky to have had those questions!! You never know what questions you will get!!

Check out @scrubinascrub on Instagram for my #jouRNey as I mature as a Registered Nurse! I hope this helped & thank you so much for allowing me to share my story ☺

Whether you’re a nursing program looking to supplement your curriculum or a nursing student in search of test-prep materials, check us out to see how UWorld can help you find NCLEX success.