Commencing January of 2015, all RRC BN Graduates write and pass a national computer adaptive test (NCLEX) in order to be licensed to nurse in Canada. Brittani Rainkie, 2014 Graduate of the BN program was among the first Canadian candidates to write the NCLEX in early January. She generously agreed to describe her experience about the process and shared some tips on how to prepare for the NCLEX exam so that this information could be posted on the RRC Nursing Blog.
Writing the NCLEX Exam
Brittani described being nervous on the day of the exam. Not so much about writing a computer based exam. Nervousness was due to the “high stakes” of the exam outcome, her license to practice being the goal. She felt more anxious when she was in the test environment as there were high security measures in place. For example, each candidate had to have their palms scanned, their pictures taken and their clothing checked prior to entering the testing room. Brittani felt she was prepared for some of these measures but not others. She had prepared by reading all the information available to licensing candidates on the College of Registered Nurses (CRNM) website.
Brittani also told us that the environment that she wrote the exam in was intimidating. There were glass walls surrounding the test room and cameras monitoring the candidates at every step of the process. She told us that the computer screen will prompt you after a specified time that you are eligible to take a break but you do not have to take a break if you do not need one. The test room seats several writers at a time (in her session there were 6 people writing at the same time) and it can get noisy. She was able to hear the typing of the other candidates and the moving of the mouse to answer questions. Candidates are offered earplugs to eliminate some of this noise. Candidates also receive a white board to jot notes on, do calculations etc… She also told us that when the computer analyzes that you have completed the exam the screen will go blank and a message will appear telling you that the exam is over.
Before attempting to write, Brittani recommends that all candidates gather as much information as possible from all sources well in advance of their exam date. She began her preparation early in her Senior Practicum. She did a thorough search of the CRNM website for all information available on the Canadian NCLEX and felt this did help her to know what to expect. She utilized an online resource with computerized NCLEX style questions, testing herself frequently during the weeks prior to her exam date. Brittany felt this was an excellent opportunity as several of the questions on the actual exam were very similar to those she had practiced. The opportunity to practice answering the various types of NCLEX questions was invaluable. For example, in addition to multiple choice questions there were drag and drop questions, priority ordering questions, audio and video questions and many “select all that apply” type questions on the exam.
Brittani also utilized a NCLEX Preparation text book that tested her knowledge, but more importantly gave her valuable strategies to successfully write the exam. Some of these strategies included looking at what the question was actually asking, eliminating distractors based on wording in the question, and distinguishing what type of question was being asked (application, knowledge, and analysis).
Things Brittani suggests exam candidates not do, include: do not try re-reading all your notes from the 3 years of nursing education; do not buy more than one reputable text book to prepare to write the NCLEX. She reiterated that it is important to start practicing NCLEX style questions well before the date on which the exam will be written.
Brittani successfully demonstrated her knowledge in her first writing of the exam. Brittani is currently employed at HSC Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg and is a role model for the students completing their Pediatric rotation. Students and faculty of the RRC BN Program congratulate Brittani on her success and thank her for sharing her experience with us.