Critical Thinking Skills

Nursing Students General Students


Hi Everyone:

This is my very first post and I hope I am doing everything correctly. Any and all help would be appreciated. I am a 40 something year old women who has raised two daughters and has found herself in a financial situation where I need to return to college and would like to get my RN degree through the ADN program at the community college. I have humbled myself to return to college with students my own daughters age and retake science prereqs that are 20 years old.

Okay- here is the problem. I have maintained a 4.0 with ALOT of effort and will be taking the HESI a2 exam in December and applying for the program in Janurary for fall 2011 start. The problem is that I am currently taking my first true "nursing" class (Health Care Delivery) and I bombed the first test. Apparently, everyone else did too but that doesn't really matter. I have never had a test where there are multiple correct answers and/or questions that say "choose the best answer". I understand that this is my introduction to Critical Thinking Skills but honestly, I have never had a class like this (fyi: I have a BS in education) and I don't know how to prepare for the next one. I did speak with the instructor who basically told me to get used to it. I am not a complainer and I have alot to learn but your thoughts on HOW I should do this would be greatly... appreciated. Thank you for your patience as I try to learn this. :uhoh3:

Does this class have a textbook? If so, there should be NCLEX type questions at the end of each chapter. I would recommend doing those questions and if there is a supplemental study guide for the text then you may want to get that as well.

I would also suggest you look into "Test Success". It's a book for beginning nursing students and it teaches you how to answer and comprehend the kind of questions on nursing school exams. I read it over the summer and now I truly understand how to answer NCLEX type questions. It's worth looking into. Maybe visit your local B&N and just sit down and read a few sections of the book.

Sorry I couldnt be of more help...


Thank you for your suggestions. Unfortunately there are no NCLEX style questions in the text and no study guide. I really appreciate your feedback about the book. Believe me I will be checking it out at B & N right away. Thank you much. Any other thoughts would be appreciated.

Specializes in Pediatric Hem/Onc.

If you get the Saunders NCLEX review (which I really recommend!) there is a section on test taking strategies. It really helped me! I could always eliminated 2 choices right away but those last two tripped me up. It goes through the types of questions you'll see and the best way to find the right answer.

I wish I could explain the concept, but I'm super sleepy and the words are eluding me lol Hope this helps at least!

Have you gone over your test yet? Go in to your prof. and sit down and go through every question. Understand why you missed it. Pay special attention to how they are wording things. I missed a question once on an exam that said: "Which statement should the nurse make." Well, 3 of the 4 answers ended in a "?" and one in a "." But the "." statement was RIDICULOUS. So I picked a "?" And of course it was wrong, because, as she pointed out, "A statement is not a question, now is it?" :barf01:

I also found that the pre-nursing classes at my school were much harder. The teachers always said things like, "You better get used to this, because in NURSING SCHOOL....(insert absurd claim here)." They had me scared. But NS is NOT anything like what they said. So take it with a pound of salt and do what you have to do to get through it.

I too feel your pain. On my first theory exam I didn't do well (I passed but not my usual scores). It almost feels like starting all over again, figuring out how to take tests. My professor emailed me and said that he wants to meet with anyone who scored below 80% on the exam (I scored 77%). I am going to go check out that book tomorrow at B&N. Someone else suggested Fundamental Success book. I don't know if that would help you or not.

Good luck and hang in there!


Specializes in Psych.

Nursing exams ARE tricky. One piece of advice I can give you is make sure you read the questions VERY carefully and look for key words. Such as, what would you do first? And then pay close attention to the wording of the answers.

You also have to think about what the question is NOT asking, like if one of the answer choices sounds right but it says something about the patient being pregnant and no where in the question does it mention pregnancy, you can rule that one out. That sounds like such an obvious suggestion, but you'd be surprised.

Dont beat yourself up too much, the first NCLEX style test everyone always does poorly on. You even said your whole class didnt do well. Your grades will most likely go down a bit in nursing school though, unfortunately it happens to pretty much everyone. But you do get better at learning how to read the questions. I know its hard to get out of the mind set that you have to get A's, but in nursing school all that matter is that you pass. Just know though that your teachers are there to help you, so use them! Like someone already suggested, ask your teacher to go over the test so that you can understand why you missed questions.

NCLEX style tests are incredibly frustrating at times, but hang in there! Good luck! :nurse:

Specializes in Home Care.

the more you practice doing nclex style questions the better you'll get at answering them.

its important to read the question carefully and understand exactly what the question is asking. then look through the answers and eliminate the obviously wrong answers. then you're left with 2 answers, read the question again and then choose the best answer.

i find it very helpful to find the keywords in the question, if i can i underline the keywords and phrases.

here's an example:

the nurse who is about to begin a blood transfusion knows that blood cells start to deteriorate after a certain period of time. which of the following items is important to check regarding the age of blood cells before the transfusion is begun?

1. expiration date

2. presence of clots

3. blood group and type

4. blood identification number

this one is easy to make a mistake on if you don't read the question carefully. if you just skim the question you could select any of the answers since all are checked before giving a transfusion. that's why its important to understand what the question is asking.

Specializes in ICU.
here's an example:

the nurse who is about to begin a blood transfusion knows that blood cells start to deteriorate after a certain period of time. which of the following items is important to check regarding the age of blood cells before the transfusion is begun?

1. expiration date

2. presence of clots

3. blood group and type

4. blood identification number



Thank you very much EVERYONE for your comments, suggestions and awesome examples. I have alot to learn and I know that I just have to study hard and give it my best shot. You were all terrific at explaining things and giving me examples. Plus, I am off to buy a couple different suggested books to understand the Critical Thinking component. Thank you very much for taking the time to help me out.. :)

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