I don't know what I am doing wrong - not doing so well on tests.

  1. Hi everyone.

    I am a first-semester nursing student in an accelerated nursing program (15 months). I am currently taking Med Surg I, Pharmacology, Health Assessment, and a transitions course.

    I have my previous bachelor's degree in psychology and have experience working as a case manager for adults with disabilities.

    I am incredibly excited and passionate about becoming a nurse and am doing everything that I feel I can do to do well in my classes. However, I am finding it hard to do well on tests.

    I started out with a 90% on my first pharmacology test. I was incredibly pleased, but in my former degree, I was used to getting straight A's (with a few B+s not in my major) so I was expecting an even higher grade.

    Since that first test, I've been consistently getting high 70s on my exams. I got a 76% on my first Med Surg exam, and a 76% and 78% on my two health assessment exams. For the supplemental assignments, I've been doing really well -- I've gotten 95% on the two care plans we've had to write and 100%s on the papers we've had to write about diseases, PICO questions, my journals for clinicals, and on the cultural exploration assignment we had. I am having an incredibly amazing time at the LTC clinical site, and already have established a great relationship with my clinical instructor.

    I realize that there's a learning curve, since we have to think differently to answer NCLEX-type questions, but I feel that, after I've already taken three tests, I should be getting the hang of it. It's comforting to know that I'm doing well at some things, but it's really disheartening that I am not able to do better at this point in time in Med Surg and health assessment. I participate in the lab and have passed all my competencies without any issues thus far. It is just the written tests that are getting me, and I'm not sure why.

    There's a ton of material, and I don't feel like I am having a hard time understanding it, but that also concerns be because I can't really identify where I'm going wrong. I am having a pharm test this week and have made index cards for all of the prototype drugs (we're being tested on ten chapters) and that seems to help somewhat. I am wholeheartedly prepared to do the work that is expected of me, and have been putting all of my time into learning and understanding the material.

    I guess what I am looking for, is perhaps some tips/suggestions for studying or ingraining the material into my brain. I really want to understand how to approach the material effectively.

    If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them. I appreciate any assistance that anyone can provide.

    Thanks so much.

  2. Visit Mindylane profile page

    About Mindylane

    Joined: Jan '11; Posts: 335; Likes: 118


  3. by   jdk0809
    My suggestion is to get an NCLEX book like Saunders do the questions in the book related to the chapters you are learning. This book was so helpful to me as it give you content without all the extra fluff. I bought the book my second semester of nursing school and used it all the way through. It will help you with these types of questions. Also if you school has ATI use the nurse logic part that helped me in the begining.
  4. by   Mindylane
    Thanks, jdk. I actually ordered the Saunder's book yesterday through Amazon, so hopefully I'll have it by Wednesday. I had purchased another NCLEX-style book, but the questions are not in any particular order, so I have to wade through heaps of information to find something relevant, so it'll be helpful if/when I get to take the NCLEX, but for now, it seems to just be a waste of time.
  5. by   Nurse Kyles
    I think you just need to practice NCLEX questions. I would check out a strategies book and practice questions. My last semester of school my school started using the Kaplan integrated program which included the Kaplan review course and thousands of practice questions. The class taught me to use the Kaplan "decision tree", which really was a life saver on the NCLEX. My classmates and I all agreed that we wished we had learned to use the decision tree earlier. Doing practice questions and tests is really the best way to get better at them. When you are done with the questions make sure to remediate the rationale on the questions you missed. Good luck!
  6. by   Mindylane
    Thanks, Kylee! I have the Kaplan book and will check it out!!
  7. by   FatKittyHenry
    Why were you expecting to obtain HIGHER grades? Did you believe nursing school would be easy in comparison to a psych degree? LOL.


    welcome to nursing.
  8. by   Scarlo
    I agree with JDK. I used Saunders like a bible and did the questions as they related to the subject matter of the class. The rationales kept me on the right path with the critical thinking. Don't get disheartened. Just readjust your approach.
  9. by   mssjez
    There are iphone apps from lippincott that provide NCLEX style practice questions on any chapters you want. If you don't have an iphone, you are able to download it through itunes on your computer and do the questions that way. It really helps me get into the mindset of the tests. Now I'm not perfect and don't get 100% on the exams (it is nursing school after all) but I got an A- last semester (my first semester). Good luck!
  10. by   Scarlo
    If you use the Saunders CD, you can sort the questions according to subject matter/content. Just use study mode.
  11. by   Mindylane
    Thanks, everyone! I really appreciate all of your suggestions. I suppose my study habits can be adjusted and I just need to starting "thinking like a nurse!" It certainly is a huge difference from a psych degree :P
  12. by   nurseprnRN
    There is one book that I recommend to all students, and that's the NANDA-I 2012-2014, free 2-day shipping from Amazon. Mostly it's because it's THE reference for nursing plans of care, and you'll need it for that anyway. But in your case, with your background, I think it will be invaluable in your quest to learn to think like a nurse.

    Nurses planning nursing care must be able to think like nurses, not like auxiliary physicians. NANDA-I will give you insight into that and really jumpstart your thinking like a nurse process. I'll be interested to hear what you think.
  13. by   FatKittyHenry
    What are auxiliary physicians?
  14. by   nurseprnRN
    Quote from FatKittyHenry
    What are auxiliary physicians?

    Some people call nurse practitioners "physician extenders." Personally, I find that insulting and I argue with a physician friend about this every time I see him. That might be what it means to some folks. I meant that we are not subordinate to physicians or appendages for them.
    Last edit by nurseprnRN on Feb 22, '13