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Many students try to memorize for the NCLEX exam.  However, this is not a great strategy to use.  There is no way that you can remember every page of Perry and Potter or Williams and Hanley.  Many of the nursing textbooks are thousand of pages.  You cannot commit those to memory.  Remember that the  exam is structured on two areas - client needs and the nursing process.  Having a good understanding of these two areas and the strategies used to answer questions are important for student success,   Harriette B., Ph.D, RN 

One of the biggest challenges for students taking the NCLEX is having a good grasp of nursing content.   There is a lot to learn in nursing and although basic nursing care remains the same, there is a lot of information that is written in some huge text books that is overwhelming.  For students who have problems passing their NCLEX I usually recommend that they review and acquire a good grasp of nursing fundamentals in relation to care.  In the end this is a nursing exam that they are taking.   Dr. H.Barker

Ordered responses also known as Drag and Drop responses depend heavily on visualization. You have to picture yourself performing a procedure such as a catheterization. This type of question is challenging for many students, because they may never have seen or performed this procedure in their clinical training. However, depending on how many options you are given the basic format of performing any procedure remains the same.   1. Identify the patient 2. Explain the procedure 3. Wash your hands 4. Gather equipment 5. Provide privacy 6. Prepare equipment depending on sterile or nonsterile technique 7. Put on gloves 8. Carry out procedure 9. Discard or clean equipment 10. Wash your hands.   Happy Exam Dr. Harriette, Nursing Tutor  

Hot spot questions require more than basic nursing content.  You must have a very good understanding of anatomy and physiology and pathophysiology.  This type of question asks you to put information on a chart, graph or a table using the mouse.  Visualization works best with this type of question. Close your eyes and imagine the area of the body that they are describing. What are the structures? What is the function?  What is the condition that is related?   Sample question:   Your client is in labor.  The health provider palpates the uterine fundus finding small parts on the right side of the uterus and a curved section on the left side.  Where would you put your stethoscope to hear the fetal heart beat?     First begin by imagining the abdominal area - the umbilical is the midpoint -  Right side    Midpoint            ... read more

Select all that apply (SATA) is one type of alternate format question.  This question has more than the four typical options that you find on a multiple choice exam.  You may be given 5 or more options to choose from, and there is a box in front of each of the choices.  You do not receive partial credit in this type of question.  You must select all of the correct options.  How do you answer this type of question?   Elimination does not work very well here. Usually with multiple choice questions you may be able to eliminate at least 2 choices leaving two remaining. Comparing and contrasting is not easy to do because of the number of options. So, the best strategy to use here is to take each answer choice and determine if the statement is a true statement or if it is false. e.g.  Your client had a left-sided CVA and is having difficulty swallowing. What are the appropriate nursing actions? Select all that... read more

The NCLEX is made up of mainly traditional multiple choice, text-based four option questions.  However, it may also contain some questions that are formatted differently. These are called alternate format questions.  This type of question includes: Select all that apply (SATA) Fill-in-the blank "Hot spot" Drag and drop/ordered responses   Variations of the alternate questions include: Chart/exhibit Audio Graphics In future blogs I will be discussing how to correctly answer the various alternate format questions. Happy Exam,   Dr. Harriette

In my last blog I discussed some success tips for NCLEX test takers.  There is a flip side to this and in my tutoring with students I observed many approaches that will not help them to be successful.  So here are some tips on things that do not work for this exam: Trying to memorize facts Trying to guess the answers to questions Trying to answer questions based on recall or recognition Not completely reading the question, but rushing to choose an answer Answering questions based on their nursing practical experience Choosing answers based on a good feeling Making a decision that they do not know the answer Giving up because the answers appear to be difficult Overanalyzing the question   Remember this is a nursing exam  that is based on textbook not practical experiences.    Happy exam   Dr. Harriette

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