Help taking tests with Critical Thinking

  1. I need help taking the critical thinking part of tests. I am in Med Surg 1 right now for adult theraputics. I can get all of the memorization down, but I just can't apply it on the test. Can any one give me any ideas or ways to start critical thinking or better ways to interpet the questions??? Thanks
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   Daytonite
    hi, steffieg7487!

    first of all, you should get yourself a good nclex review book. i think that one of the best is saunders comprehensive review for the nclex-rn examination, 3rd edition, by linda anne silvestri. the reason is because it not only has these application type questions (the critical thinking part of the tests you are talking about), but it also gives you nice concise lists of physical assessment items you should be looking for (and why) for all kinds of different disease and problems along with nursing interventions.

    secondly, you need to know the steps of the nursing process. with many questions you need to be able to identify where in the nursing process the situation you are being presented with lies. for example, if you can determine from the information you are given that assessment hasn't been done yet and some of your answer choices have gone right to nursing interventions, it would probably be more appropriate that the answer choice involving assess the patient first is going to be the correct response. you also need to know that there are priorities in performing nursing interventions. the saunders book can help you those.

    here are two links that might also help you:

    http://go.dbcc.edu/hhps/nursing/study_skills.html - study skills for the nursing student from daytona beach community college nursing department with some good advice.
    http://go.dbcc.edu/hhps/nursing/test_taking_skills.html - test taking skills also from daytona beach community college nursing department. a couple of sample questions and how to choose the correct answer for these application type questions.

    http://www.efn.org/~nurses/ - this is a website maintained by the nursing students at lane community college in eugene, oregon. for study and learning tips specific to nursing students click on "tips for learning" at the left side of this home page.

    welcome to allnurses!
  4. by   nrsx
    Here are a few things that help me.

    Always read the question carefully - circle or underline key points. I write all over my tests like a crazy person, complete with diagrams, to help me organize my thoughts. I'm sure my teachers are amused marking my tests! Hopefully they're good for a laugh or two!

    Think about what the answer(s) is before looking at the options listed. This is especially helpful for multiple choice questions because sometimes all the options look correct!

    Be sure you are not assuming anything. I seem to do this often, especially if it is a very generalized question. I tend to read more into the scenario than is actually written there.

    Also, don't rely on memorization. Memorization is not the same as comprehension. If you only memorize the info, it can sometimes be tricky applying it.

    And finally, take your time & don't doubt yourself. If you find yourself going over your test & changing a lot of answers - STOP! Don't second guess, your first instinct is often right; only change an answer if you are sure you made a mistake.

    I have a hard time with this type of test, but am beginning to notice patterns with my thinking. If you can, go over your tests & review all the questions that you got wrong. Was it the wording, did you misunderstand something, did you assume... look for your own patterns in thinking (or misthinking as the case may be). Learn from your mistakes. Part of critical thinking is being able to analyze - that includes self-analysis.

    I'm told critical thinking skills can improve with experience.

    Good luck!
  5. by   NaomieRN
    I am also taking Med Surg 1 and so far, I have an A average. I do the following: I purchased Saunders Nclex 3rd edition, I target study, record the lecture, read ahead, try to understand the material first before I memorize and group study. The Saunders Review helps me to know possible areas of focus. Last test, there were a few similar questions on my exam. I also like the rationale with the questions.
    It is a great book broken down by subject areas. What I have also learned is, you need to try to understand the material first before memorizing. For example, in endocrine try to know the functions of each hormone rather than memorizing. If you know aldosterone regulates water and electrolyte levels in blood (blood pressure), than you will know if someone has low aldosterone, they will have low b/p such as in Addisons disease and over excretion cushings etc. It will be easier to remember on the exam.
    Good luck to you!
  6. by   meandragonbrett
    I always found it easier to eliminate the wrong (or most wrong in the case of nursing) answers first...usually able to narrow it down to two. Then figure out which of those two A) Makes the most sense B)Follows ABCs, maslow's, etc. Good luck...sometimes you just have to guess because you can rationalize all 4 answers as being the most correct.

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