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First test anxiety

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RetrieverGirl has 9 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Med/surg tele, home health, travel.

6,098 Visitors; 213 Posts

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I am a second semester nursing student and I am having a hard time transitioning. I love the clinical setting and do very well, but I unfortunately have a difficult time taking nursing exams. I feel so stupid!!! I failed my first couple of tests and I feel like I am heading for a downward spiral. I constantly look for supplemental material to use to help break down the more difficult concepts. I busted my butt to get into this program and I sometimes feel I have doubts about myself. I often times turn into an emotional wreck. I already had to repeat one class and now there isn't another chance to mess around. Has anyone experienced what I am going through, and if so please give me some helpful advice on how to pull through and keep my sanity!!!!!

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Don't spend too much time looking for resources on the internet etc. Use the most recent Saunders NCLEX study guide and read the material in it that corresponds to what you are studying in class and then do the practice Q's for that material. If you won't have time to read the chapter at least do the practice questions at the end and then skim or read the chapter.. This should guide you towards some of the more important information to know about that subject.

Use what is in those questions as a kind of study guide. What are the questions asking you on that subject. For instance on acid base look at the types of questions they are asking. Those questions are probably geared towards what are the causes of the 4 different acid base imbalances. How would you treat a patient with acid base balance and questions that give you values and ask you to interpret what acid base balance it is.

My problem in RN school was I am very much a visual learner so listening to lectures or reading was not a good way for me to learn. I also wanted to read the entire chapter in the textbook word for word, but I would run out of time and then panic. Try to look over the Q's in Saumders NCLEX and skim the chapters in Saunders and then glance over the chapters in your textbook and read the most important parts of the chapter. Our instructors always said to pay close attention to the boxes, pictures and graphs in the textbook. They said if it was important enough for the author to take the time to make the boxes and pictures then it was important for us to know.

I always got bogged down when I tried to read the entire chapter of the textbook because I then wondered how was I ever going to remember all those fine details.

I realized I needed to get the big picture in my head first and then build my knowledge from there. For example when we began learning about labs and looking them up in our lab book I felt overwhelmed that I would have to learn all the information in that big book. Once I realized we were only focusing on certain labs from the book then I had a big picture of the labs we needed to know.

At the bookstore there are small condensed pocket sized nursing books that have the lab values and the basics of acid base balance etc. Making certain you know the information in those books might be helpful.

Nursing school was hard. Remind yourself when you begin to read and study to use your time wisely. As I said I wanted to read the chapter word for word. Often the first few paragaphs or even pages were just the authors introduction to the chapter. This was often a waste of time for me to read. Also the textbook is just the authors idea of what you need to know. He is not sitting in your classroom listening to your lectures. Be sure to read about the things your instructor lectures on especially.

Basically there is not time enough to read everything so make your time count and skim to find the important things to read. Use pneumonics and visuals if they help you. And definitely use a Saunders NCLEX study guide. When you do practice Q's in the Saunders book mark why you got the question incorrect. Did you not read a key word in the stem of the question correctly? (If so you need to concentrate on reading the Q's more carefully) Did you not have enough knowledge on the subject to answer the Question? (This is not usually the reason I get the questions wrong.)

Somewhere in the first few chapters of Saunders NCLEX is a chapter on test taking strategies. Check the questions you get wrong against this list of test taking strategies to determine why you get the Q's wrong and what test taking strategy will help you answer the Q's correctly. I wrote myself a condensed version of these strategies on one piece of notebook paper and I keep it in my Saunders book to use for every practice question I do. Once you do enough Q's you will begin to see a pattern to the types of Q's you miss and you can begin to use the test taking strategies to answer the Q's correctly.

Best of Luck

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RetrieverGirl has 9 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Med/surg tele, home health, travel.

6,098 Visitors; 213 Posts

Thanks for the advice. As a matter of fact I just purchased a Saunders Nclex book online and received it on Saturday. I feel as though you completely described me in your posting. I try to read all the required chapters and find myself bogged down with information and can barely recall a darn thing!!! I get worried if I don't read EVERYTHING that I will miss important points. Although we have about 6 books required for our semester the instructor did tell us to that she is only using information from our Lewis textbook for test information, so maybe I only need to start focusing in on that book. Now I understand why our first semester nursing instructor told us to get an nclex over the summer....

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As I said I wanted to read the chapter word for word. Often the first few paragaphs or even pages were just the authors introduction to the chapter. This was often a waste of time for me to read. Also the textbook is just the authors idea of what you need to know. He is not sitting in your classroom listening to your lectures. Be sure to read about the things your instructor lectures on especially.

I've only just started, but this is definitely a problem I'm having. My study technique has always been to come to class with the chapter read and as you said, there's a whole lot of space wasted in the chapters that takes up time to slog through. It's really hard to let go of that study method though, because it served me so well in prerequisites! But in addition to being a time sucker, it just ends up frustrating me and making me angry at nursing, lol.

To OP- Does your school offer any academic support services? Practicing questions with a tutor might be helpful. Also, do you have a study group? Taking turns explaining things together and even just keeping each other on task has also made a difference in at least being able to focus on getting the important stuff!

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