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Tests and exams in nursing programs are a breed of their own. They propose very different challenges than the tests taken in prerequisite courses relying simply on memorization is not enough. For these tests, you must filter out each possible answer and utilize the material you’ve learned in a way that provides you with the most correct answer.
One of the biggest challenges I have endured in college was transitioning into what one would call the “nursing school life.” It was difficult to adapt to this new way of answering questions and it began to affect me psychologically. As a result, I failed my first three tests. The entire situation was incredibly discouraging as I was never the student to have problems in school, much less fail tests consecutively.
Eager to bounce back, I received advice from fellow nursing students and watched dozens of YouTube videos about test taking skills. I realized that there was an entire “test taking” toolbox for me to utilize in the way I study and approached future tests. As I started implementing these new strategies, I instantly saw the positive impact it would make on my grades. Five quarters of nursing school later, I feel more confident than ever in my test taking skills. There is definitely a method to this madness that everyone is capable of learning.
Example question: The nurse is assessing the client’s condition after cardioversion. Which observation would be the highest priority?
Correct Answer: B – Think about airway from the ABC’s. Understand that maintaining a patient’s airway is the highest priority written out as a nursing responsibility when a cardioversion is done.
These are just a few test strategies that I’ve learned over the past year and a half. One book that I highly recommend reading for more test taking skills and tips is Saunders Strategies for Test Success. It does a great job of breaking down and explaining how to take nursing school tests and what the benefits are to those specific strategies. I’ve also decided to incorporate this book into my NCLEX review guide. After all, the NCLEX is essentially the ultimate nursing school test. Nursing school can be difficult and nursing school tests will be challenging, but just remember that you made it this far for a reason! You can do this!
RN, BSN | Former Student Ambassador | Everett Community College