Saunders is the best Review for the NCLEX hands down. I can't personally say that I have tried other books, but I'll start off by saying that I passed the NCLEX. On my first try. With 1 month to study. After being out of nursing school for a year without reviewing.
For reasons that are too long to detail here, I was having difficulty scheduling my NCLEX due to various factors. Due to some miscommunication mostly on my part, I found that they had scheduled me to take the NCLEX and had given me a test date which was exactly one month away. You can imagine the overwhelming panic that came over me as I realized I had been out of nursing school since December 2012, and it was now mid-January 2014. Anyone reading this that is thinking of "taking a break" from nursing after graduating before preparing for the NCLEX... do not wait a year like I did. This will help prevent a lot of unnecessary stress.
The tools I used to review included this book (the Kindle version) which is the 6th edition, and NCSBN's learning extension review for the NCLEX online. Now the reason that I purchased the Kindle version of Saunders was because I had ordered the physical copy of the Saunders 5th Edition book and it was taking much longer than expected to arrive to me. At the time I was living in a small town in Alaska, and Barnes & Noble or was not readily available to me to purchase an NCLEX review book. As I became more and more anxious for the 5th Edition to come in, I could not NOT study and wanted a textbook in addition to the lessons online on NCSBN. I opted to purchase the Kindle edition of this book so that it could be delivered to me right away electronically and I could begin reviewing. I wanted the physical copy of the 5th edition for a reason though. Many reviews online from students expressed that the CD that comes with the 5th edition hard copy was very valuable and the practice questions and lessons on the CD helped other studying students tremendously. That CD was what I was after, to help me review & master the material that I would be going over in the book. I had an issue with the 5th edition not coming with that CD... and other reviewers online had the same concern.
But I will clear the air and say to anyone using the CD as a deal breaker between these two editions, the 6th edition may not come with the CD, but it comes with an online membership to a website containing the EXACT SAME MATERIAL found on the physical CD that comes with the 5th Edition! Once I received the 5th Edition in the mail I was able to compare the two, and really, the content on the Saunders review website with the 6th Edition is the same as the content on the CD with the 5th Edition. Even more, the content of the entire book of the 6th Edition is nearly identical to the content within the 5th Edition. The difference between the two texts are unnoticeable besides the fact that the content is reordered in the 6th Edition.
The content in these books were incredibly informative. For someone who had not reviewed for a long time, I was able to get back into the swing of things using these texts, and the "Pyramid Points" were absolutely KEY to remember. Every chapter was equipped with important, to the point information, highlighting facts & strategies that were imperative to remember. Each chapter then concluded with review questions that were similar to what I was actually tested on. I would also recommend the audio reviews on the CD or review website. Use the testing strategies that are outlined in these books. When I was stumped on a question because I just didn't know the answer from not knowing the content, I was able to use the strategies they taught to narrow down options to find the right answer.
When I took the exam I used up the whole time and I answered questions at my own pace. I tried to not feel rushed, and I didn't really utilize the breaks except for once. At the time I took it, I didn't feel completely confident that I passed, but at the same time I knew that I had been prepared well and a lot of the content I was tested on had been covered in my Saunders texts. A couple days later I found out that I passed!
What a gratifying feeling, and I do owe it to Saunders mostly, and in part to NCSBN's review, but if I could weight it I would give Saunders 89% of the credit and 11% of it to NCSBN. Bottom line, I would recommend these books, both the 5th and 6th edition, to any nursing student preparing for the NCLEX. If I could pass the NCLEX studying only for 1 month (technically, 3.25 weeks, as I was delayed in starting from waiting for the 5th edition to come in before I began studying with the 6th edition on Kindle), and I had been out of school for over a year, then you definitely can pass using these tools especially if you have a lot more time to study than I did.
Hopefully this helps! Good luck to all studying!
Nicole, RN-BSN ;)