January 5, 2017 by Kevin Pan
No matter how much time you spend preparing for the NCLEX, there's always this nagging doubt:
What if I'm going to be the one out of 5 students who fail?
Yep. I worried about that too. But what if there was a way to know for sure whether you prepared enough?
Well that's the promise of Platinum Tests.
Platinum Tests reports that their question bank is the first and only nursing CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing) system other than the actual NCLEX.
And in this review, I'm going to take a close look. I was able to get full access to their system and ran it through multiple cycles of NCLEX questions. I also examined their results with a fine-tooth comb.
And finally, I'll give you the verdict on whether Platinum Tests is the real deal.
Before I go into the nitty gritty, imagine this situation.
You're practicing for the NCLEX by doing question banks and answering NCLEX questions.
You're finding them wherever you can: books, the internet, your school...
But here's the problem:
How can you be sure the questions you're answering are the right ones?
How do you know if they're the right difficulty level?
Are the questions you're doing really organized just like the NCLEX would be?
You know the NCLEX is actually a very advanced and secretive test. How could anything you find really mimic the NCLEX?
In order to have a Computerized Adaptive Test, the first requirement is to have calibrated test items.
Here's what it means:
Each NCLEX question has to be rated on difficulty in a very accurate way.
They way to do this is by having many students answer each question and measuring how many students get it right and wrong.
If a lot of students get it right, it's an easy question.
If a lot get it wrong, it's a hard question. Of course, questions range from a spectrum of very easy to very hard.
That's why there are "pilot" questions on the real NCLEX - they don't count toward your score, and the NCLEX is using you as a guinea pig to calibrate their new questions. And you're the one paying them. Isn't it great? Anyways...
This is crucial:
Because on the NCLEX, if the computer decides with 95% confidence that you are able to answer questions that are at a high enough difficulty level, YOU PASS!
If not, you fail.
Platinum Tests knows this, and they report that hundreds of nursing students have answered and calibrated their questions: just like the NCLEX does.
But I wanted to find out for sure.
I signed in and had an NCLEX question in front of me within a few minutes.
It was quite a simple interface - I chose whether the test was timed and had the option of choosing from some NCLEX Categories.
The question itself was presented without frills.
Each question had 4 multiple choices. I'd answer and move on to the next.
No rationale or feedback was given after each question - this is meant to be an NCLEX Simulator, after all.
Here's What I Did:
The first time (where I wasn't trying), I got stopped at the maximum 200 questions.
The second time (when I was trying), I got stopped at 155 questions.
This is a good sign right off the bat, because that's how a CAT exam like the NCLEX should work.
Once the NCLEX determines your level of competency with a 95% confidence interval, it stops your test early.
Here's what really impressed me though:
The post-test results and analysis were excellent.
It actually assigned each and every question I answered to an NCLEX Area, Subcategory, and Concept.
As a reminder, the NCLEX Test Plan divides the NCLEX into 8 areas:
From these 8 areas, the NCLEX Detailed Test Plan actually digs deeper and divides each area into subcategories.
From these subcategories, the NCLEX actually digs one level deeper into the NCLEX Concepts.
You can see it here: 2016 NCLEX Detailed Test Plan (Educator Version)
This is what Platinum Tests followed.
For example, I could drill down from Management of Care (NCLEX Area) -> Client Rights (NCLEX Subcategory) -> Recognize Client Right to Refuse Treatment/Procedures (NCLEX Concept) and see whether I got it right or wrong.
Here's the important part:
Each question had a rated difficulty, like I talked about earlier. The ratings were flexible and accurate on a hundred point scale.
It was NOT simply easy, medium, and difficult. Questions had difficulty ratings of 0.55, 0.35, etc. This allows their system to determine what your skill and judgement as a nurse is compared to other students.
Like I said before:
This is crucial. This is what separates this Platinum Tests from something that merely looks and feels like the NCLEX.
It also gave you a percentile rank for each subcategory and concept so you can see how you did compared to the overall student pool.
I can now confirm that PlatinumTest indeed has a true Computerized Adaptive Testing system. Amazing!
My first critique is that it would be nice to be able to see exactly which question was assigned to which concept.
As of now, you can see whether you got it right or wrong, but you can't go back and see which question it was.
Adding this would help with transparency so we can see which questions are assigned to which concepts.
My second critique is that the mixture of test questions didn't actually follow the percentages outlined in the test plan (remember the first screenshot and pie chart?).
For example, I noticed psychosocial integrity had 50 questions (representing 25% of the total of 200 questions) in both of my test attempts on PlatinumTest.
However, the NCLEX Test Plan states psychosocial integrity should really only count for 6-12% of the questions (about 20 questions out of 200).
This is something I imagine wouldn't be too difficult for PlatinumTest to tweak, however.
My third critique is that at the time of this writing, each exam had up to a 200 maximum questions. However, the NCLEX-RN has a range of 75 to 265 questions. Again, I'm sure this is something they can tweak.
My last critique is that there are no Select All That Apply questions, even though those are obviously the scariest ones on the NCLEX!
Update: February 16, 2017Platinum Test reports that they now have Select All That Apply questions in their question pool!
Last last mini-critique. There's no on-screen calculator for the dosage calculation questions. I'm sure there will be though, as that's not hard to include.
As always, I'll be keeping you updated on these critiques, as they change or are resolved by PlatinumTest.
There is no way to see the actual questions you got right and wrong. You cannot read any rationales for any correct answers.
Understand that this is meant to be an NCLEX simulator, not a practice tool.
In fact, allowing students to practice by seeing the rationales and correct answers would compromise the validity of the question pool (just like the NCLEX: they can't let anyone know the answer key or their test is compromised.)
So it's quite understandable, but I wanted you to know the difference between a simulator and a practice tool.
Here's the Amazing Thing Though:
The ability to reliably tell whether you'd pass the NCLEX is such a valuable (and possibly stress-relieving) tool, it's GAME-CHANGING!
Can you imagine not having to worry about the mystery of passing the NCLEX?
Imagine not having to doubt whether you practiced enough or chose the right things to study.
That's the promise of Platinum Tests' test engine.
PlatinumTest indeed appears to have a true CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing) system.
Their breakdown of NCLEX questions into the Test Plan Concepts is already deeper and more thorough than any other online question bank I've reviewed.
They appear to have all the components of a CAT exam, which is amazing and truly unique.
Do you know what this means?
For a one-time fee, you'll be able to reliably determine whether you are ready to pass the NCLEX. How exciting!
However, I still can't give you a complete picture. Not everyone will experience what I experienced.
That's why I want YOU students to write reviews!
Read reviews from real students who've used Platinum Tests. Those will be your source of truth.
Good luck on the NCLEX!
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