Test taking will never stop throughout your nursing career. Just when you think that you have taken the last test you will ever need to take in your life, another one emerges. Testing helps validate your current knowledge and the credentials that they provide can help market your skills to employers. So, mastering test taking skills will affirm your abilities as a nurse.
Standardized exams are written by content experts that research and plan the substance of the test. The exam will prove minimum competency on the area of content which means that you should be able to “apply” the content. This is important because the test writers assume that you already can recall and recognize the content. Therefore, the first step in mastering a test is to KNOW (recall and recognize) the content. Once the content is second nature you can begin applying that knowledge to the test.
So what does applying knowledge mean? Applying knowledge is first recognizing and recalling information about a specific problem and then applying that knowledge to a defined situation. Often the familiar information is put in an unfamiliar situation.
Types of Test Questions
There are many different ways to design questions on a test. The first and most popular is the four option multiple choice question. The second type of question is alternate test questions which include selecting all the answers that apply, selecting a particular area on a picture, fill in the blank, or drag and drop ordered response.
To successfully answer the multiple choice test questions you must first categorize the components of the test question.
1. Identify the stem (or important components) of the question.
2. Reword the question.
3. Identify the definite wrong answers and eliminate them.
4. Do not predict answers before reading them.
Important Concepts to Master for Nursing Tests
Another important aspect to identifying correct answers includes knowledge of the following concepts and the order of the components of the concept:
1. Identify your strengths and weakness first
2. Give yourself positive reinforcement often
3. Know Maslow’s Heirarchy of needs (physiological, safety and security, love and belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization)
4. Know the Nursing Process (assessment, analysis, planning, implementation, and evaluation)
5. Think client safety first
6. Know therapeutic communication
7. Know normal variations of labs, side effects of treatment, and disease process
8. Know when to delegate tasks and when to collaborate with other team members
9. Review daily
10. Practice test taking
Obviously, this is only the beginning of test taking strategies. There will be more recommendations to come. Begin applying these concepts and you will be on your way to passing every test you encounter.