TEST TAKING STRATEGIES
The following pages are some strategies that will aid you in developing a focused study plan!
These strategies will help you identify the most important elements of the question and you will learn how to successfully identify the correct answers.
The Process of Elimination
Take out any incorrect answers that you can clearly identify. By eliminating the wrong answers, you will be left with fewer choices. This will increase your chances of picking the right answer.
For example, if there is an option that asks you to notify the physician , this may be an incorrect choice. The aim of NCLEX is to test the thought processes of nurses, not doctors. Understanding this will help you eliminate these options.
Odd Answer Out
Look for an answer that is completely different from all others. This is called “Odd Answer Out.” Here is an example:
You ask your patient to explain to you his understanding of the discharge instructions you just went over with him. The instructions contain the specifics of his follow-up appointment, which has been scheduled with his primary care physician in 3 days. You question his understanding when he states:
- He will set his alarm 2 hours ahead of the appointent time to ensure he arrives on schedule.
- He will put this important information on his calendar which will remind him.
- He is looking forward to his relaxing vacation beginning tomorrow.
- He will make sure he has a good breakfast before he comes to his follow-up appointment.
- Which is the odd answer out? Click the button to check your answer!
Repeated words and Opposite Words
When you see a word in the question and then see the same word (or a synonym) repeated in the answer, consider that this answer may be the correct option.
Find the opposite answers . What's the trick? One of opposite answers is usually correct!
All of the Above Principle
If all answers seem to be correct and applicable, choose the one that includes all the choices in it.
Assessment or Intervention?
Decide if the question is asking you to choose between performing an assessment or an intervention. Assessment is always your first line of action.
When you must make a choice between assessment and intervention, utilize your nursing process to make the best choice. .
An answer has a strong possibility of being incorrect if it asks you to do any of the following:
- Instruct your patient on how they are supposed to feel.
- Ask your patient the question "Why?"
- Tell your patient not to worry.
- Make a decision for your patient.
- Advise your patient to ask their doctor
Visualize the Presented Situation
Picture the patient's environment, current position, equipment needed, and your intent of the outcome.
This helps you eliminate the wrong answers and identify the right option.
Look for the Stem of the Question
Be very observant of the structure of the question. This will help you determine the stem . The stem is the part of the sentence that asks you the question.
The stem gives the vital information of the question, describing the patient and their problem.
The stem can also be the portion of the question that is incomplete, such as “The best option for the nurse is...”.
Read the stem twice to understand fully what the question is asking you.
Pay attention to key words like most , best , first and least . They are also a very important part of the stem and help you successfully determine the correct answer.
Eliminate Answers Containing Distractors
The purpose of distractors is to direct your attention away from the right answer in order to have you consider other alternatives - the wrong answers.
When this happens, we tend to add more information to the question than is plainly stated so that we can create a rationale to make the options with distractors fit the scenario. This may mislead you and keep you from determining the correct answer.
Answers That Contain Words That Are Absolutes
Answers that contain these absolute terms are rarely correct because they are self-limiting.
You can view these as options for elimination:
When a question has words like prior to or a prefix like intra or post, those are cues. If these are in the question, the answer generally refers to a period in time.
Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Questions
There are other types of responses to help you identify the correct answer.
Look for the open-ended question amongst the response choices given. An open-ended question is one which allows elaboration with questions, such as “How are you feeling today?” or “Would you like to talk about your concerns?” Consider an option with these types of open-ended questions in them as the right answer.
Another response is one containing a closed-ended question in the option. This will likely be a response incorporating the use of non-therapeutic communication. These are statements which require a one-word answer such as yes or no. This response may give advice, convey judgment, ask why, change the subject or express approval or disapproval. This option will not request additional information or explanation.
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