Critical Thinking help!!!!!

Nursing Students Student Assist


Hi everyone, I just started my first semester and the critical thinking is killing my test scores. Does anyone have any advice? I'm consistant at narrowing the problem down to two possible answers, but then lose in the 50% game... I wish they would have gone over this more in the prereq's :(

Please help!

Try the test sucess book. It was really helpful. I read it over the summer and did the practice test. It helped me. I scored a 94 on my first test. I think it was because this book helped me learn how to answer nursing type questions.

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics.

The CD for one of my textbooks addressed this particular issue with nursing test questions. The advice given is 1) focus on ABCs, 2) focus on Maslow's and the lowest level of the pyramid, and 3) pick the broadest answer. Also, make sure that the answer chosen relates directly to the question. Sometimes, one of the choices of the two answers that could apply is not directly related to the question.

Specializes in None.

These tips are off of a Hints For Tests that one of our professors gave us:

1. Look for a key word: first, initial, essential, severe, best, most important, priority, pregnant, adolescent, early/late, pre/post, before/during/after, on the day of/after, several days, acute/chronic. Essential is usually a safety answer.

2. Elminate incorrect answers. One word can make it incorrect.

3. Words that make it incorrect 99.9% of the time: all, nothing, only, never, early, always, any, none, total, everyone, nobody, completely, sole. Absolutes are a no-no.

4. Words that would probably make it correct 90% of the time: usually, may, should, nearly, seldom, almost, sometimes, few, maybe, often, frequently, partial, normally, probably, generally, some, commonly, occasionally, average.

5. Prioritize with ABC, then safety, Maslow or nursing process.

6. Treat each question individually.

7. Answer with textbook and ideal situation. This is only patient and all options are readily available. "Hospital Eutopia, everything is perfect"

8. Use national standard, not local or regional or where you work.

9. If you don't have a clue, reread the answers starting with D. (D, C, B, A)

10. Be positive about exam.

Specializes in None.

Also try using these questions (sylvia rayfield & assoc):


Which is the priority assessment for infection in this situation?

Which vital sign should be (documented, followed-up, discussed with other team members?)

Which client should be assessed first?

Which assessment would best accurately determine the client's identity?

Which assessment would best determine the effectiveness of the PRN pain med?

Which assessment would be priority for this client (elevated bp, low blood sugar, sob, fluid draining from ears, etc?)

Which assessment best determines hydration status in this client?

What is the next priority assessment?


Which is the priority of care in the client with (infection, SOB, tachycardia severe pian, diarrhea, etc?)

Before this drug is administered the nurse should (check lab data, alternative agents, pulse, allergies, ineteractions, etc)

Which PRN med, should be utilized from protocol?

Which order should be questions?

The most appropriate staff person to be assigned to the client is?

The most appropriate client to transfer to the (cancer, ped., OB) unit will be?

Which staff member (LPN, CNS, & RN) would be assigned to which client?


Which plan would be best to ensure proper ID on a (psychiatric, neonatal unit, etc?)

Thirty minutes prior to or after this proceudre the nurse should plan?

Which health care member should be collaborated with in this situation?

Which plan would be best (prevention aspiration, prevent infection, promote wound healing, protect the client from injury?)

Which (drug/food/alternative agents) should the client be taught to avoid?

Informed consent should be planned.

D/C instructions include?


Which interven. would have the highest priority? (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc)

Which nursing action will best prevent (infection, loss of skin integrity, etc)?

What is your best response to ensure client confidentiality?

From protocol choose the best interven. for the client w/(bradycardia, tachycardia, non-catured pacemaker, resp. arrest, cardiac arrest, choking).

Which techniques will be best in (d/c'ing tube, decreasing pain, increased vascular perfusion, protecting the client from self-injury, caring for client on ventilator?)

Which nursing action is priority? (W/the ineffective funct. of tubes, catheters, infusion pumps, 02 admin., restraints, mobility aids, etc)


Which eval would indicate a therapeutic response to this (drug, infection, procedure, hydration, altern. therapy)?

Which is priority teaching at the time of d/c?

Which doc. would be (most appropriate, illegal, priority?)

After eval. of (infusion site, skin integrity, IV rate, fall risk, etc) the nurse should?

Cool! Thanks for the info reeta, kay, and dudette. I found a website for my textbook that has practice NCLEX questions for each chapter, and it shows you why the answers are right or wrong. I'm feeling way more confident now.

I'll let you know how my next exam goes...

Specializes in Medical and Behavioral Health.

Buy Kaplan strategies book for PN or RN if you are either of those. Read it from begining to end and you will do well. HELPED ME ON MY NCLEX RN WHEN IT TO CRITICAL THINKING! :)

Nice, I'll look into that for sure.

I boosted my class total by 5% with the last exam :D. Thanks for all the help and suggestions guys and gals!

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