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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

The structure of the NCLEX is designed to test your knowledge and understanding of the  different phases of the nursing process and the needs of the client. Each question on the NCLEX incorporates a phase of the nursing process and an area of client needs.  The nursing process consists of five basic steps - assessment, analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation.  In answering your NCLEX questions it is important to understand which step of the nursing process you need to apply  in order to successfully answer the question and pass your exam.  Good luck.   Dr. Harriette

It is that time of the year when the Spring semester is almost over and the new graduate students are celebrating the last few days of the classroom.  The next step is taking that important NCLEX exam.  So celebrate for a while, but soon it is time to hit the books again to begin preparing for your NCLEX.  Here are some tips to get you moving:   1. Remember that the NCLEX is a text book based exam. 2. Try to devote at least 2-4 hours in study time each day. 3. Do not sell your text books until you have passed your exams. 4 Carefully review content as well as practice questions. 5. Use all of the resources that are available. 6. Reach out to a NCLEX tutor.   Best of Luck   Dr. Harriette

If you are repeating your exam it is  a good idea to reach out to a tutor who can help to better prepare you to retake your test. I always ask my students what they think is the reason/s that they are unable to pass the exam.  Many of them are very much aware of the areas that are problematic. Here are some tips for those who are repeating the exam:   Nursing knowledge - You must have a good grasp of  Nursing content- This is a textbook exam Study time- You should devote at least 4 solid hours a day to studying in divided periods of about 1 hr Rationales - Find rationales for the answers that you are giving to each question Guessing - Do not practice guessing of the answers - elimination of options - yes Build your knowledge - After selecting the right answer - also review the other options given and try to determine why they were not the correct answer for that question. Know your basic lab values and the conditions to which... read more

Many nursing students believe that their studies are going great until they come to pharmacology. It is difficult trying to learn and understand all of those drugs and their side effects. However, dosage calculations really put fear into many students.  So the next few blogs will be looking at this topic. Few of us are mathematical wizards, but using dimensional analysis to solve your dosage problems make the process easy.  If you want to calculate a dosage, or the rate of a drip, this method is very useful. Let us first examine the steps of dimensional analysis by working on a simple problem   The MD prescribed 50 mgs of a medication. It is stocked in a concentration of 100mg/ml. What dose should you give in milliliters     1. GIVEN -identify the given quantity -50 mg   2. WANTED -Identify the wanted or unknown quantity - x ml   3. CONVERSION- Write down the equivalents that are needed to convert between... read more

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

The NCLEX is very challenging for many students. They become frustrated because the way that they answered questions in nursing school and the way that the NCLEX questions are formatted appear to be vastly different. Becoming a better test taker is possible.  First, students need to make an assessment and identify the ways in which they learn and take tests.  Some students become very anxious under test taking conditions.  Some students spend hours studying without retaining anything that they have studied. Next, students have to learn new ways of studying more effectively and test taking strategies. Tutoring can help the student to make the necessary changes. Here are some tips to help improve your chances of success: Be confident Make sure that your nursing knowledge is sound Read the questions carefully and review the possible choices Stay focused Happy Exam Dr. Harriette

When taking an exam such as the NCLEX it is normal to feel anxious.  The hours of this exam represent a significant investment in terms of your time, energy and finances.  So of course you want to get it over and move on with your life. Many of my students tell me that they panic during the exam especially if they are going beyond the 75 question mark. Students have to understand that this is a "high stakes exam" and they have to develop some strategies to help manage their anxiety.  Here are a few suggestions:   1. Create a picture of you taking your exam. Visualize that you are successful 2. Practice some relaxation exercises for those  panicky moments - try smiling and remain positive 3 Take some deep breaths and exhale slowly. 4 I can do this - reinforce this positive thought throughout the exam 5. Avoid distractions - no - you cannot text your friend for the answer  6 Focus -Focus -Focus   Happy...

Prioritization questions are often a big challenge for students on the NCLEX exam.  These types of questions require the student to make decisions about which problems need urgent attention or those that are non-urgent. The grad student has little experience in clinical settings and making decisions that are based on nursing judgment, may be difficult.   In order to make a decision about priority, the student should consider the following: Is the situation life threatening or has the potential to be life threatening if there is no intervention? Is there a safety risk to client or staff? Is the task critical to the medical or nursing care plan? What are the expected client outcomes? There are three levels of prioritization: 1. First level is - ABC's - airway, breathing, circulation and vital signs 2. Second level is concerns about changes in mental status, acute pain & elimination issues, abnormal lab values, undetected... read more

The beginning of a new school year is always exciting, however there is an end to that year as well with final exams, possibly graduation and NCLEX exams as you prepare to become a professional nurse. Now is the time to put a good study plan in place.  Your plan should be built on a solid foundation of a positive attitude, the belief that yes, you can and will achieve your goals, and measures for control.  You should also make a list of realistic short and long term goals with manageable time frames and outcomes.  The nursing process can be used to help guide you in preparing a plan for success:    Assessment - Make a thorough assessment of you - where are you in your program- how are your grades - what                     are the problems or difficulties that you are facing - what are the things that you need to change-                     improve... read more

As the summer draws to a close, it is time to take out those nursing books, dust them off and begin preparation for heading back to the classroom. If you are a returning student, by now you should have developed a study plan to help you organize, comprehend and digest the large amounts of information that is required in your nursing subjects.  Here are some suggestions to help you: Make a list of your short and long term goals Make up a studying schedule - it should be realistic based on your other activities  Form a study group with others who are willing to study Keep a journal on your progress Remember to positively pamper yourself - healthy eating habits, exercise, relaxation Early outreach to a tutor for any problems you may encounter Happy Fall Semester Dr. H. B.

I was recently reviewing all of my latest NCLEX manuals. The total amount of questions in the combined manuals was almost 15,000 plus CD's plus practice exams and websites with more questions and answers. I said to myself this is amazing! The minimum amount of questions to pass the NCLEX is 75 with a range of up to 265. So what are the possibilities of getting at least 100 questions that you know out of this mass of questions? For many students the NCLEX can be very confusing. Studying masses of questions over and over does not seem to help. In working with my students I tell them that the key to the exam is knowing test strategies - reading the question - understanding the question - eliminating distracting options and learning rationales. It is a nursing exam and although the questions may be framed differently the answers are really the same. It is important that the student has a good grasp of nursing fundamentals, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, labs and the nursing... read more

Here are some skills that you need to acquire in order to pass your NCLEX: 1) A THOROUGH understanding of all nursing subjects. 2) The ability to closely follow any directions that are given. 3) UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU READ - very important 4) Patience - lots and lots - to read each question and options carefully. 5) RATIONALES!! RATIONALES!! - know your reasons for the answers that you give. 6) Test strategies - process of elimination - nursing process, ABCs, Maslow hierarchy. 7) Computer ability - practice taking online exams. 8) Determination to pass. 9) Lots of confidence. 10) Staying power - after the first 75 questions. 11) CONTROL OF ANXIETY OR FEELINGS OF PANIC. 12) Getting help from a TUTOR - from the earliest stage. Have a great summer. Dr. Harriette B.

I was listening to a program a few days ago and the presenter was speaking on "high risk nursing students." These students were described as those who were most likely to fail their nursing program or to drop out. They range from full time working students, those who had more than one job, those who had children, were married, single parents or those who were taking care of their parents or other relatives. Although the presenter made a good case and supported her argument, one very important factor was missing - that is willpower. As a professor and a tutor, I have seen students overcome many challenging obstacles to reach their goals. Yes, nursing is a tough program, taking the NCLEX is very challenging. For those students who may find the going tough, I would suggest three things - 1) Develop a good study plan. 2) Manage your study time effectively - that is no cell phone, TV, Facebook, twitter or any other distractions. 3) Find a tutor early, if you realize that you are... read more

Ever so often I get a desperation message from a student. Usually he/she is planning to take the NCLEX exam in a couple of days and is feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.  I tell my nursing students that desperation responses seldom work, because underlying this situation is fear, stress, anxiety and the feelings that you do not have enough knowledge or proper preparation.  You can eliminate this desperation cry by proper planning.  Take time out this summer to make a study plan that will effectively help you to study the various topics for your exam.  Determine your strengths and weaknesses and the areas in which you need support.  Reach out for tutoring as an early intervention instead of a last minute desperation dash.  

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