How can I stop being stupid with NCLEX questions?

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    I've been doing horrible on the tests this quarter: med surg and mental health. The material with mental health isn't even that bad and having worked with psychiatric patients as a CNA, the experience comes in handy but I still do bad on the tests. With med surg, I understand it's alot of critical thinking and it's more than reading the text. In fact, there's no time to even the book. In our program (because it's part time), we don't have lecture, which doesn't help, so it's up to the individual (I personally feel that lecture is required for med surg). I bought NCLEX books to prep, even the "reviews and rationales" book with practiced with questions but it still doesn't work!

    I bought the "test success" book with how to take NCLEX questions but again, no time to review. When I do aim at answering the question from a test taking angle (not so much the content), for ex: not choosing the answer has "only" in it or choosing "asses" when answering, "what should the nurse do FIRST" I still get it wrong! I don't know anymore. What's weird is that I'm doing so much better in clinical and on the floor with my nurses and patients but with tests, I suck! Maybe I overanalyze or just pick the wrong answer... I don't know... HELP!
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    Do you feel like you have a good grasp of the material? I noticed you said you have no time for the book or something to that effect. To be honest, I don't read all the pages assigned- HOWEVER- I do find other ways to learn the content, just in a shorter time vs reading 500 pages. The Manual of Med Surgical Nursing was a great resource for me in Med Surg, it really condenses the info you need to know in a few pages. Saunders was also my go to study guide for Med Surg.

    It has to be both, knowing the content as well as test taking skills so I'm wondering if you feel like you have a good grasp of the content. No amount of test taking skills will help if you don't know the material. When you practice NCLEX questions do you read the rationales for the right and wrong answers? That is really important when you do practice questions. If you choose the wrong answer, you've got to understand why that answer was wrong.

    Do you get a chance to meet with an advisor and go over your exams? That way you can see where you might be going wrong. Whether its not understanding what the question is asking or not having enough info to answer the question. Try to set up an appointment with an advisor/instructor to figure out where the problem lies. That would be my 1st course of action.
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    Here is my advice. Get a Saunders NCLEX book and practice 20 questions a day. Read the rationales. My biggest regret was not doing this while I was taking med/surg. I was always busy studying and brushed it off. But my hours of studying was not effective because I did not know how to correctly answer the questions. Doing practice questions will allow you to figure out the quirks that NCLEX-style question uses. I would say that after about 200 questions, I got a good grasp on it. Because I did not start practicing these NCLEX questions early on, I was frustrated and miserable during med/surg. No matter how much I tried, I could not get an A. I ended up with a B, not horrible but I could have done much better and saved myself a lot of time studying. Now that I know how to answer these questions, even without in depth content review (I took med/surg a year ago), I am scoring very well on my practice NCLEX CD's.
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    i taught the kaplan nclex reviews for years, and this is what we taught, to great success.

    nclex items are developed in part from knowing what errors new grads make and how. they tend to be of two kinds: inadequate information, and lack of knowledge (these are not the same thing). the goal of nclex is to pass candidates who will be acceptably safe in practice as nurses. so-- they want to know what the prudent nurse will do.

    1) when confronted c 4 answers, you can usually discard 2 out of hand. of the remaining two,
    -- always choose the answer that (in priority order) makes the patient safer or gets you more information. "can you tell me more about that?" "what do you know about your medication?" "what was the patient's lab result?"
    -- never choose the answer that has you turf the situation to another discipline-- chaplain, dietary, md, social work, etc. it's often tempting, but they want to know about what the nurse would do. see "always..." above.

    2) "safer" might mean airway, breathing, circulation; it might mean pull the bed out of the room and away from the fire; it might mean pressure ulcer prevention; or improving nutrition; or teaching about loose scatter rugs ... keep your mind open.

    3) read carefully. if they ask you for a nursing intervention answer, they aren't asking for an associated task or action which requires a physician plan of care. so in a scenario involving a medication, the answer would not be to hang the iv, regulate it, or chart it; it would not be to observe for complications. it would be to assess pt knowledge of the med/tx plan and derive an appropriate patient teaching plan. only that last one is nursing-independent and a nursing intervention.

    again, they want nursing here.

    4) the day before the test, do not study. research shows that your brain does not retain crap you stuff into it at the last minute-- musicians learning a new piece play the first part on monday, the second part on tuesday, and the third part on weds. then they do something else entirely on thursday; meanwhile, behind the scenes, the brain is organizing the new info into familiar cubbyholes already stuffed with music, putting it ready for easy access. on friday, the whole piece works much better.
    what this translates for in test-taking land is this: the day before a test, you go to a museum or a concert, go take a hike, read a trashy novel, make a nice ragout, do something else entirely. take a small glass of wine, soak in a nice hot bath in a darkened tub with a few candles on the sink, get a nice night's sleep.

    5) read the mayonnaise jar and do what it says: keep cool, do not freeze.
    SlinkyheadRN likes this.
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    I appreciate the advice everyone - thank you!

    I set up a meeting with my teacher and told me the same thing, use an NCLEX book. I do need to save time and read, no matter what. Thanks everyone - your words mean so much in my current stressful world that comes with nursing school *sigh*
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    When doing practice questions in an NCLEX book do not circle, underline, or mark the correct answer on the page as you will want to go back and take these questions again in the future.

    A short chapter in the front of Saunders NCLEX books provides test taking strategies.

    As you do practice questions and read the answers and rationales, also determine from these test taking strategies why you answered the question right or wrong. Beside the question write in the test taking strategy most helpful in answering the question?

    Take notice of the test taking strategies that you use well consistently and the test taking strategies you need to improve your use of.

    For me answering NCLEX style questions correctly requires a knowledge base as well as consistent use of these test taking strategies.


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