Ritualistic Behavior: What to Do Right Before Your NCLEX

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If you didn’t know already, ritualistic behavior is heavily associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder/Anxiety. And if you didn’t know that…well…don’t start freaking out on me. You’re going to do great! Maybe, I should say. Lol. I don’t want to give you false reassurance (another thing you should know for your exam). I mean, who wouldn’t have a little anxiety before the big test? Am I right?

The day before the exam, I didn’t do much. I didn’t even go through a single practice question. I took the opportunity to rest my mind. #TherapeuticDeConditioning right before the big day, as I would like to call it. This is important people. Take that advice how you wish.

That night, the anxiety started to build up. I couldn’t sleep much. What’s the worst that could happen?…I fail the exam, contemplate whether or not I’m even cut out for this profession, let everyone in my life down, hide away for a year in Europe, raise a goat and own a fruit stand. That last bit about Europe, I actually wouldn’t mind. I was twisting and turning in bed, all night. So, just like our textbooks have said, I ate some carbs to help me knock out. I almost got through a whole family sized bag of Doritos. #CoolRanch. Don’t get it twisted. And no, they’re not paying me for that shout out.

My test was scheduled for 0800. I woke up at around 0400, and just said, “Screw it. Let’s do this.” I hoped in the shower, took the drive to the big city of Chicago and blared EDM all the way there.

I parked in the Millennium Park Garage. I already knew it was definitely too early. Hell…at least I made it there without any problems. Right before I stepped out of the Edge, I stopped. I took a deep breath. I read my little note to myself and then I was gone.

I got to the Prometric Center, at around 0550. The sun didn’t even peak through the buildings yet. And the testing center didn’t let anyone upstairs until 0700. I literally sat in the coffee shop, right next door, for an hour. Probably not a great idea for some. Sitting in some holding area just waiting may cause a little anxiety build up. But, I digress. And didn’t take none of that crap. I continued to unwrap my plastic baggie, filled with goodies. I ate my protein bar, and drank my Gatorade.

I got up to the testing center at 0700 sharp and did the whole check-in process thing. They’ll ask for your identification, take your finger prints again, and ask you to lock everything you have on your person into a locker. EVERYTHING. I was numero uno. The first one there. No one else was in the room, but me. Then, they asked me if I wanted to take the exam earlier. Like 0715 early. They thought that sitting in the holding area may bring me anxiety or something like that. I looked that woman dead in the eye, with a stone cold face and said, “Let’s do it. Why wait?”


1) Intake Regiment: Eat something and drink Gatorade. For crying out loud, get something in that belly. Get the sugars flowing to that brain. And as for the Gatorade, it’s isotonic properties of electrolytes won’t make you pee as much, during your exam. Ask anyone. #BOOM.

2) Pre-Game Bowel and Bladder Release. You may laugh at it now. And yes ladies, you poop and fart too. Don’t act like you don’t! I know the truth! We all know! Even if you don’t have to go, try to anyway. But really, it’s up to you. Feel free to take the chance of having to take a large dump, during your exam. Even the smallest nudge of an upset stomach can be nerve wrecking.

3) Therapeutic DeConditioning. I could have easily just said Gate Theory. After all, this is a painful, excruciating process. Do something to relax your mind. Don’t take this opportunity for granted. You need to calm yourself. Listen to your favorite tune, deep breath exercises, therapeutic massage your damn self. Throw in some Kegels in there, for the hell of it. Why not?

4) Write a little memento to yourself. A little act of courage. I did. It’s really just a simple psychological booster.

I can’t tell you enough how important that last part is. You’re already at the testing center. You’ve taken the preparatory measures. You know your stuff. You are ready. Seventy percent of the battle is seriously done. The other 30% is courage, self-confidence, control. #OwnIt.

Confidence is key. Walk up on her like she owes you money. 

Take this advice how you wish. That’s just my take on it.

What do you think? I’d love to hear it! What are some of the things you did before your big test? Or even if we’re not talking about the NCLEX per se, what are somethings you do right before any exam?

Warm regards,


Author: nursesarereal

My nursing professor once said that keeping a journal, over time, will allow me to see growth. In myself? I’m not sure yet. I’m hoping. I like to believe that nursing school saved my life. Maybe I’ll have some fun doing this. Cheers.

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