First Exam...am I being too hard on myself

  1. 0
    Need some objective advice here...

    I had my first nursing exam today. Now I try to be a perfectionist, and after fulfilling my pre-requisites I ended up with a 3.8 gpa. I was easily accepted into a BSN program.

    My first nursing exam was Pathophysiology. I think I earned an 87% on the first exam (52/60) based on the post-exam review (official grades posted tomorrow). It's still haunting me...I never changed any of my answers except one - which I happened to get right. However, since Nursing is a competitive program, and I did not earn that A, I keep thinking I did not do as good as I know I am capable of doing for that exam. My wife is telling me stop it, and that I did fine.

    Part of me feels like I did not do good enough - yet people were leaving the post-exam review saying, "I got a 76% at least I passed it" (which is another issue - I don't see how someone can be proud of that). Another part of me says I just need to work harder at zoning in on the areas that are causing confusion to earn an A for the next exam.

    OR ...am I just being way too hard on myself?
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  4. 14 Comments so far...

  5. 2
    That is common. I had straight A's going into the nursing program, and often got mid 80's on first exams in nursing classes. The first is always the hardest as you are getting used to the new prof, material, and testing style. Don't beat yourself up, you will do better later.

    And yes, there are a lot of students who are just glad to get into a program, so passing is all they want. C's get degrees.
    SoldierNurse22 and loriangel14 like this.
  6. 8
    First of all an 87% is not a bad grade. Second of all do not judge so harshly on those who got lower grades. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. You do not know where other people are coming from and their struggles so it is important to try and be empathetic. This is going to be a very important skill that you will need to have mastered when you become a nurse. Good luck to you!
  7. 0
    It's a mix for me....I'm a previously 3.9 GPA student pre-nursing, but this semester (my first in nursing) I've pulled a 94 on my first patho-pharm exam and a 76 on the next patho-pharm test, as well as my first Foundations test that I'm positive I did crappy on (still awaiting my grade). I went into the second patho-pharm test EXTREMELY prepared (13+ hours of studying) but I feel like it doesn't even matter if I study or not. At this point, I'm just aggravated and it's only week 4. Awesome :0/
  8. 4
    Quote from Sparrow91
    First of all an 87% is not a bad grade. Second of all do not judge so harshly on those who got lower grades. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. You do not know where other people are coming from and their struggles so it is important to try and be empathetic. This is going to be a very important skill that you will need to have mastered when you become a nurse. Good luck to you!
    I completely agree.

    Honestly, I have to say that the elitist attitude I see of those judging the grades of others really angers me.
    Last edit by Elizabeth Renee on Sep 17, '13
  9. 0
    I completely relate. I struggled and continue to struggle to get a hold of my perfectionism, and several years ago it began to creep into more areas of my life than just academics. I beat myself up all the time. (Why are you so stupid that you can't even get an A? You studied way too hard to get anything less. A B is pathetic. You're pathetic for getting a B. Why can't you do anything right?) I'm not trying to go all therapist on you, but, seriously, if you can figure out the root of your perfectionism, you will enjoy life a whole lot more. It wasn't until I realized that I was letting grades define who I was as a person that I was able to let go and accept the (sometimes less than perfect) grades I worked hard for.

    As for previous posters, I don't think this has anything to do with elitism. I can mentally compare myself to a classmate and think, well, at least I did better than him. But it doesn't help, because I still feel like a crumb on the floor because I didn't make a 100. It's hard for me to see how someone else can be happy with an 82% because when I get an 82% I feel like I failed miserably. This is a personal struggle that goes far deeper than nursing school and test grades.

    That's just my 2 cents.
  10. 1
    Yes, you are being too hard on yourself. Since you ask. Nursing education is different from prereq education in so many ways.

    If you are really concerned about this, your next stop should be your instructor. Contrary to popular opinion , nursing instructors really do want you to pass, really do want to help, and really do care that their messages are getting through. So rather than stew and fret, go to the source and ask them what they think you could be doing differently. By all means, if you can. figure out what to focus on so you'll do better next time. But not because you'll be less of a good person if you don't get a 100%. Just so we're clear on that.

    Now, if you are really taking a hit on your self-image by not getting straight 100% on your tests to the point where you're obsessing anxiously about it and losing sleep, then this is beyond your instructors' ability to help. For that, you go to the college student health department and get a referral to a counselor for a short-term tune-up on perspective, perfectionism, and anxiety. They've seen this before, you're not unique, and you might as well get it settled now rather than later. Don't put it off.

    Have a great year!
    lorirn2b likes this.
  11. 0
    Quote from wordsofmymouth
    I completely relate. I struggled and continue to struggle to get a hold of my perfectionism, and several years ago it began to creep into more areas of my life than just academics. I beat myself up all the time. (Why are you so stupid that you can't even get an A? You studied way too hard to get anything less. A B is pathetic. You're pathetic for getting a B. Why can't you do anything right?) I'm not trying to go all therapist on you, but, seriously, if you can figure out the root of your perfectionism, you will enjoy life a whole lot more. It wasn't until I realized that I was letting grades define who I was as a person that I was able to let go and accept the (sometimes less than perfect) grades I worked hard for.

    As for previous posters, I don't think this has anything to do with elitism. I can mentally compare myself to a classmate and think, well, at least I did better than him. But it doesn't help, because I still feel like a crumb on the floor because I didn't make a 100. It's hard for me to see how someone else can be happy with an 82% because when I get an 82% I feel like I failed miserably. This is a personal struggle that goes far deeper than nursing school and test grades.

    That's just my 2 cents.
    I disagree. There are possibly other internal struggles going on with the OP but I was very perturbed by their choice of words when describing those who got lesser grades. Sorry OP - if it wasn't your intention, I apologize for saying such, but it did sound elitist to me. :/

    OP, the way it sounded to me was that your standard is getting A's. You're already beating the mental **** out of yourself for not meeting that standard you set, but I do not think it's fair to hold others to that same gridlock (and frankly I think it's not fair to hold yourself too tightly to it either; it's not healthy). By you expressing your annoyance (without any empathy) for those being relieved that they passed and did not meet your standard did sound elitist. Sorry, but it bothered me.

    I think it bothers me because I used to know someone who basically believed that no matter what type of program you were in, if you didn't make straight A's, you failed yourself and were incompetent. B's were a sign of weakness because a B shows that you knew some of the material but not all of it. I could not be around her because her stress poured onto me and I needed to get away from that negative energy pronto.

    A's are great and having a high GPA is awesome, but beware of the price. If you want high grades, you can get them, but very likely some other part of your life non-nursing related will suffer greatly, be it time with family or your health or what have you.
    Last edit by Elizabeth Renee on Sep 17, '13
  12. 2
    Nursing classes are a different ball game, its not as simple as memorize and answer.. You are being too hard on yourself..Just an FYI, rarely does anyone passes nursing school with all A's.. Highest test grade in some of my classes were an 87% and yes that is something to be proud of..
    loveoverpride and lorirn2b like this.
  13. 1
    OK since I am kind of new here I want to clarify some things. I try not to be too verbose when typing posts. However, this one is long and needs some explanation. Before I begin, I want to thank everyone for their feedback. It helps me put some things in perspective.

    First the official grades were posted today, and I earned a 90%.

    Second, about the empathy issue...well, you had to be there. I saw this all the time with people taking their pre-requisites. They would only study 2-3 hours before an exam, and they were so excited to try and get in the nursing program, but all they were concerned about was doing the bare minimum. In one course I had to take, we had to do a group project and we were going to receive a group grade. We had the option to vote someone out of the group if we feel like they were not doing their share within a set time frame (we had 2 months to complete the project, and we had 3 weeks to make the decision). I was doing my portion and another person's portion because they were not doing anything. So the third week into the project we discussed the issue (the person in question would not even show up for meetings after agreeing to the meeting times), voted that person out and presented to the instructor valid reasons why.

    As far as with patients - I am very empathetic. I used to be clergy, and I have sat at the bedside of several different parishioners in Hospice. As far as colleagues taking the same classes as me...I realize there is a difference between someone who tried as hard as they could to earn that C+ grade, and someone who just flippantly says, "As long as I pass that's all I care about." If someone was ecstatic for getting that C+ because they worked REALLY hard at it, that is one thing. But if someone says, "At least I passed" and the only studying they did was 2 hours before the exam - to me that shows they don't even care ... (and there were people who said, "I only studied 2 hours before the exam").

    In fact, it was empathy that caused me to be a peer tutor at the University I attend for GOBC / AP / Micro / Stats classes. I had a not so good instructor for GOBC 1. During my first year, I vowed to find time to become a peer tutor so that I could help other students who want to enter the program. After my second year, I was able to add AP , Micro, and Stats.


    One person I tutored was concerned that she was not going to get into the nursing program. The student scored low on the first AP exam. I worked with her, saw her average increase considerably (one whole grade letter). The student emailed me and was really excited because after our review sessions before her final, she earned a 98.

    So it's not that I am not empathetic. It just depends on the situation. I have friends in the Nursing Program with me that only earned B's on their first Patho exam - and they are pretty smart. I know they worked as hard as they could because they earned A's in AP, just as I did. If a student does not even try and flippantly blows it off as, "at least I passed..." that is different than, "I studied hard for this C+ ..."

    I hope that clears some things up. I know other people have things going on in their lives. Me, I just have a wife, 3 cats and a dog. I am blessed with a considerable more study time than most students, and I use it wisely. This year I have been REALLY busy with peer tutoring (which is my job). A week before my patho exam, I had at least one person I was tutoring an hour for a total of 16 hours.

    One more thing: my Foundations lab partner - since I am a Certified Medical Assistant, I help show her how to do things such as vital signs. I try to be as helpful as I can with my lab partner without infringing on the instructor's territory - if that makes sense.

    I didn't want anyone to begin thinking I just think it's awful if people don't live up to "my" standard. My standard is only for me, and me alone. But, on a more personal level, I don't know why some people - and we all know there are people out there like this - are just happy with the "bare minimum."

    Maybe they do have a learning disability? Maybe they could only find 2 hours before the test to study? There will be people like that in class. Again, though, there are some who are just happy to do the bare minimum and not put much effort into their work.

    So I hope this clears some things up. My deepest apologies if I came across brash on this issue.
    GrnTea likes this.


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