Assessment Testing Madness


Greetings. I am a noob to this forum (but not to forums in general...if that makes a difference). I have seen some spirited discussion about this topic, but haven't found my specific issue here.

I'm looking for feedback primarily from nurse educators, although everyone is welcome to chime in.

Anyway: assessment testing. I'm sure we all know what it is by now. Nursing programs use them to try and gauge whether or not students have a reasonable chance of passing NCLEX. Seems like a reasonable thing to do, doesn't it?

Well...I'm not so sure anymore. I'm starting to feel as if my BSN program has gone insane with the assessment testing. As of now, there are a total of 12 assessment tests which must be taken and passed to be allowed to advance in the program, graduate, and take NCLEX. Of these 12, four are dosage competency exams (that's right...we take it four times), and one is a NCLEX practice test.

That's about as specific as I can get. This is a public forum and I don't want to identify my school or myself. What I would like is some feedback from nurse educators about this degree of assessment testing and whether or not you feel it is warranted. If there are specific questions I will try to answer them.

I guess you can probably tell that I feel 12 is a bit much, especially considering that other schools in the area have two...or three...or none at all.

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

2,066 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 28 years experience.

My first impression is that your school is doing everything they can to ensure that their students are ready for the NCLEX. They are probably also gathering information about how effective their instruction is in preparing students, and whether they are presenting the right material. Both are reasonable goals. Tying advancement in the program to your performance on them seems a bit much. My school provided us with the results so that we could identify areas we needed to brush up on, but our scores on the tests didn't determine whether we passed.


72 Posts

You might count your blessings that your school is doing the testing in 12 parts... my school nailed us with the "announcement" that we would be taking the entire ATI in one sitting .... 6 weeks before the test date!! We had to cram for that exam while still doing a full load of classes and clinics, and this was an accelerated BSN program so it was a FULL load.

Now, looking back, I'm kind of glad that we had the test close to the end of our program, because it was rigorous review of everything we had learned all year. And it was great preparation for the NCLEX.


74 Posts

re: Orca

Thank you for your reply. I agree with you that my university is trying to prepare us for NCLEX with these tests. I also agree with you that tying advancement in the program to passage of the tests is possibly of questionable efficacy. To me, that's not necessarily weeding out bad students OR potential bad nurses- it's weeding out people who might struggle with NCLEX. And, as we know, first-time NCLEX passing rates are huge numbers for program coordinators.

By tying our advancement in the program to scoring certain numbers on these tests, we as students are essentially studying for two final exams (the ATIs are given about a week before finals). Also, class tests do not reflect ATI material. This may seem like a trivial issue when I put it that way, but more and more we have been running into information which is conflicted between the ATI books and our primary textbooks. Our professors give us very minimal guidance as far as what to study for tests ("every piece of material we give you" is usually what it amounts to), so, since the advent of the ATI books, students have been applying material in the ATI books to classroom tests and having questions scored wrong. It's become quite an aggravating issue for faculty, who say they will not hold our hands and tell us what to study for test material, and students, who are often told to shut up and color.

re: phoenixrn

Ouch. That had to have sucked.

The way our tests are broken down is by subject area, and we have so many tests because our BSN program is three years out of four. We take two assessment tests, then three tests for three consecutive semesters, and then a final NCLEX practice test in the final semester. Although it sounds as if it may be easier because it is more spread out, it is in fact a huge amount of work* to prepare for these tests on top of final exams. But I agree with you that what your school did to you was horrible.

*I am not allergic to work, and I do not want to be seen as complaining that nursing school is ZOMG TOO HARD. I am actually something of a workaholic and relish a good challenge. I am doing just fine in nursing school. My primary issue is the tying of these data to advancement in the program. There are many thousands of excellent nurses working today who never took ATI tests.

My mother, who has been an ER nurse for over 30 years, thinks this sort of schooling and testing is ludicrous. She has had many BSN grads come into her ER with their heads full of ATI that she says she's got to dig it out and make room for actual, practical skills.

Thank you for replying.