TTUHSC School of Nursing Success Program. Time Will Pass Will You?

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1 TTUHSC School of Nursing Success Program Time Will Pass Will You? Test Taking Tips Getting through nursing school takes guts, skill and some degree of luck. But it s amazing how often luck comes to those who set themselves up for success by doing the hard work necessary! Before you even sit down to study: A. Manage your stress and anxiety: 1. State your goals (how will you know when you get there if you don t know where you are going?!) Break your goals down into manageable chunks Write them down and put them on your mirror Look at them and think about them every day Visualize the end result BSN, RN 2. Relaxation techniques True deep (abdominal) breathing Progressive relaxation Mental imagery Exercise 3. Positive self-talk: WE BELIEVE WHAT WE TELL OURSELVES (Good or Bad) AND WHAT WE SAY TO OURSELVES BECOMES A SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY (Good or Bad!) I can do it. This is easy to remember. I am calm. Learning is something I enjoy. I am truly confident. My mind is working efficiently. Learning is easy for me. I can remember what I want to. I will pass this test. I can recognize the best answer. I am alert and capable. I can and will reach my goals. See Coping Skills under Resources for further information on stress, anxiety and coping.

2 B. Preparation: 1. Know what kind of learner you are: Visual (have to see it before it makes sense) Auditory (have to hear about it) Kinetic (have to do it/sing it/move it) Solo or study group 2. Set priorities: What must be done and learned today/this week Limit outside activities including work and parties! 3. Know your nursing/medical vocabulary/terminology! This is your new language be able to use it properly! 4. The more preparation and skill you bring into the test room, the less anxiety you will have. Preparation and skill means studying and lots of practice taking tests. Use the NCLEX questions in your books and practice tests with ATI and online nursing websites. 5. Do not cram for a test it does not work! It does not move information into long-term memory only repeated exposure will do that! This is your career you are preparing for, not just a test. A little studying every day is far more valuable than a big chunk the night before. 6. Get a good night s sleep every night but especially the night before a test. Eat a good breakfast the morning of the test. Limit caffeine. See Study Tips, Helpful Nursing Websites and Was I Prepared? under Resources for further information on good study habits! C. Managing the actual test: 1. NCLEX (and TTUHSC SON) are primarily concerned about whether you will be a safe nurse... *Can you recognize when things are going bad for the patient (or have the potential to go bad) AND *Do you know what to do to save the patient from death or harm?

3 2. Manage the test don t let the test manage you! Before you start the test, know how many questions are on the test and how long you have to complete the test. Make your test plan write it out before the test. For example, by the time a quarter of your test time is gone, you should have more than a quarter of the questions answered. Keep track of the number of questions left and time left throughout the test. Plan on spending approximately 30 seconds per question. This is an adequate amount of time for most questions and helps build a buffer zone for those questions that may take more time/concentration. Don t obsess over questions if you have spent 1 minute on a question and nothing is coming to you, choose the answer you thought of first and move on. Tell yourself, It s OK to miss that question. It will be just fine in the long run. If you consistently are in danger of running out of time on tests, do an analysis of what is going wrong are you unprepared? A slow reader? Not focusing? Dithering? 3. If we can give you only one piece of advice, this is it: DON T CHANGE YOUR ANSWERS!!! NEVER, EVER, EVER!!! Go with your first hunch! As you go through school and clinicals, you are developing your nursing instincts and judgment. These instincts often subconsciously respond to cues in test questions, even while your conscious mind is clueless! Remember: you heard it correctly in class, you read it correctly in your books and you studied it correctly. All of that information is in your brain and trying to get out. Respect your instincts they know what they re doing. Don t change your answer just because you re dithering! Research has proven time and time again that when students change answers 80% of the time they change to a wrong answer! Gasp!

4 The ONLY time you should change an answer is if (and only if) you know you mis-read the question and chose a wrong answer. If you are 100%, absolutely, positively sure the answer is wrong, then change it! If you are just unsure, DO NOT CHANGE THE ANSWER!!! Bren s corollary to the DO NOT CHANGE YOUR ANSWER rule: You do not have to be 100% sure about your first choice answer (you wanted it for a reason, even if you can t consciously state the reason), BUT you must be 100% sure about your second choice answer before you change it. 4. Read each question carefully. Read the question slowly and completely, and then read each answer completely. Remember NCLEX (and TTUHSC SON questions) are in the perfect world. Get all the information you need from the question but don t add anything to the question (for example, but what if...? or this happened to my patient ) Don t take anything away from the question or answers (for example, but that wouldn t happen or it wouldn t be like that in real life ) Carefully choose your answer and move on immediately. If you sit there and continue to dither or second guess yourself over your answer, the more likely you will be to change your answer (to a wrong answer). The careful consideration part comes at the front end, not the tail end of answer choosing! 5. Don t jump to conclusions! Remember there may be multiple right answers but only one that is best! a. Mistakes are made when a student reads the question too fast or recognizes a word or phrase in one of the answers and doesn t bother to read further. b. You must think it through and not guess! 6. Know what the question asking for:

5 a. ABC s b. Safety (possible danger or harm to the patient) c. Nursing process d. Physical needs before psychosocial needs e. Body systems 7. Look for key words or phrases, for example: a. Age/gender/culture of client is it pertinent to the question? b. Location of the patient med-surg unit, unless stated otherwise c. Condition of the client d. Best/highest priority/essential e. Initial/first/immediate f. Early/late Most frequent/least frequent g. Most serious/least serious h. Most likely/least likely i. Most appropriate/least appropriate j. Highest risk for/lowest risk for k. Best understanding/least understanding l. Sudden (happened in a few minutes)/gradual (happened over a period of hours/days) m. Increase/decrease n. All but/except o. Admission/discharge 8. Before you look at your answer choices, ask yourself: a. What do I know about this (concept/med/condition/etc.)? b. Do I have enough information to intervene? c. If I have enough information, what would I do next? d. If I don t have enough information, what would I assess next? e. Initial nursing action does not always mean an intervention it may mean to get more information (assess!) 9. Look for an answer that is the least invasive but will give the patient the most benefit ( most bang for the buck!) 10. Be careful with absolute words very little in nursing is absolute! a. All/none b. Never/always c. Only/any d. Nothing/nobody/every/everything/everybody 11. Go for softer words usually safe to use a. May/might/could/should

6 b. Frequently/usually/often/occasionally/commonly c. Almost/probably/potentially/nearly d. Sometimes/seldom/nearly/few/some e. Generally/essentially/normally 12. Look for answers that indicate what only an RN can do assess, teach, delegate, discharge, evaluate. 13. On delegation questions, remember RNS: a. Routine tasks b. No nursing judgment c. Stable patient 14. Be careful with questions looking for the exception or more teaching (these questions are looking for the one wrong answer) 15. A correct answer is never partially wrong, but a wrong answer may be partially correct. 16. A correct answer will always be right, even though the answer may not be complete (or have all the elements that you expected to see). 17. Look for an Umbrella answer sometimes 2 or 3 of the answers will fit under the heading (or umbrella) of the other answer the umbrella answer is usually more complete and correct. 18. Look for repeated words sometimes the same word or a synonym will be used in the question and in the correct answer. 19. Look for opposites when two answers are opposites of each other, frequently one of them is correct. 20. Look for the same answer if two answers are saying the same thing, then neither of them can be correct. 21. Look for the odd man out it may be the longest or the shortest or just very different in style or content consider it carefully it may be right!

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