Test Taking Tips.... Add your own!


I'm starting this thread because students (like me) are always freaking out about the exam, NCLEX, quiz, whatever. A lot of this is mirroring what the NCLEX study guides say and some of it doesn't. These are my strategies that work. I'm a high B/low A student, getting ready to graduate.

  • Read the whole question and all the answers. Then do it again. Then pick your answer. Then read the question again... to make sure you read it right. Move on.
  • In reading the Qs, underline the important information in it. What is it asking you? Don't get mislead by details that are thrown in. Hone in on the key words.
  • Key words: Most important, priority, first... are all synonyms. There is more than one way to ask a question and they use them all!
  • Think synonyms. For all your concepts, how many ways can you say it. For example, Short of breath=drowning, winded, can't breath, etc.
  • If you read a question all the way through, and you say DUH! The obvious answer IS the right answer. It's probably not a trick question

There's more, but it's late and I have clinicals tomorrow. Please add your own! If this is good enough, it might even get stickied! :)


376 Posts

This doesn't help with the NCLEX , but I go from the back of the test.

If you look at question one, and don't know it, your confidence can be rocked.

Starting at the end no big deal.

TAKE YOUR HAND OFF THE MOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I dont know how many times I have said that to students in my cohort or "under" my cohort....and you know what they ALWAYS tell me? "You were right! I did so much better than I usually do"...get your hand away from that darn mouse! It's the ENEMY when you are freaking out/worrying.


2,723 Posts

Specializes in Forensic Psych. Has 2 years experience.

Don't worry how fast/slow everyone else around you is going. Some people are super fast test takers and get great grades that way. Some people take the entire allotted time and make great grades that way. If moving fast or slow works for you, stick with it and don't freak out and think you must have somehow known less!


102 Posts

+Treat every single answer question as a priority question, it might say something like "nursing action" but they are still implying what you should do first (that is what that stupid phrase "best right answer" means). How do you know what to do first?

Use your priority frameworks:


-Assess first.

-Maslow's: Usually safety or physiological need are the only ones that come up.

-Least invasive/restrictive to most

-acute vs chronic/urgent vs nonurgent/stable vs unstable.

+ Know high yield lab values by heart: CBC, electrolytes, BUN, Cr, Hgb & Hct male and female.

+ Know potassium and digoxin twice as well; know everything about lithium for psyc.

+ Neuro questions think LOC first. Othro questions think neuro and circulation checks first.

I probably have a lot more, but that's a great start.

Specializes in Dialysis. Has 5 years experience.

* Pay attention to anecdotes in lecture. They aren't just yapping. Those anecdotes are on the exam 99% of the time!

* When studying, ask yourself: What would I ask if I were the instructor.

* When studying, break information down to basic elements. What is the function of this organ? How does it work? What if it works too fast or slow?

* Referring to the last point... how does it work at the cellular level? What electrolytes are intracellular/extracellular? What can change that?


40 Posts

The more you read something and the earlier you start the better chance of retention you will have. I write the definitions from every chapter, and take notes during the lecture on the printed out powerpoints. The more times I scan through those the more I seem to remember. Mix in some NCLEX practice tests questions pertaining to the chapters that the exam is on (lippencotts Q&A) and some practice questions from the CD that accompanied our text, and so far I am holding on to a solid A- halfway through my first semester. (2 exams and 4 quizzes)

Specializes in Cardio-Pulmonary; Med-Surg; Private Duty. Has 5 years experience.


Seriously, don't let this stuff bug you. Sometimes there really ARE five "C" answers in a row!!!


81 Posts

I learned while taking my pre req classes that "when in doubt, pick C" and that trick has gotten me through some tough tests. Now, approaching my last semester of nursing school, if I absolutely don't know which answer to pick I always go with C.

Always remember what they say if it's said more than once! Make a note of it on your power points/book/notebook. It's most likely going to end up on the test somewhere!


94 Posts

Has 2 years experience.

ABCs, nursing process (usually the "first" thing the nurse would do is assess), and the answer is very rarely "call the physician"!!!


6 Posts

flashcards, flashcards, flashcards....and make them colorful...figured out the best way to make your flashcards, diff methods work better for diff ppl.