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Friday, November 2, 2007

Strategies for Successful Nursing Licensure Examination

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One of the pitfalls that can cause a problem when trying to answer a question correctly is "reading into the question." What this means is that you are considering issues beyond the ifnormation presented in the question. There are some strategies that you can use to prevent this from happening when answering a question. Some of these include identifying the parts of a question, reading carefully and looking for keywords or key phrases, identifying the issue of the question and what the question is aksing, using the process of elimination and avoiding the "What If?" syndrome.

Identify the part of a question.
Read carefully
Look for keywords or key phrases
Identify the issue
Use the process of elimination
Avoid asking yourself "What if?"

1. Case situation
2. Question stem
3. Options



Case Situation:
The nurse is reviewing the laboratoy results of a client who is receiving magnesium sulfate by IV infusion and notes that the magnesium level is 7 mEq/L. Question Stem: Based on this laboratory result, the nurse would most likely expect to note which of the following in the client?

1. No specific signs or symptoms because this is a normal value
2. Tremors
3. Respiratory depression
4. Hyperactive reflexes


Test-Taking Strategy:
Read each option carefully. Use the process of elimination and note the keywords most likely. Knowing that the level identified in the question is elevated will assist in eliminating option 1. Next, eliminating option 2 and 4 because they are similar. Remember, use nursing knowledge, focus on the information in the case situation, identify what the question is asking (the issue), note the keywords, read carefully, and use the process of elimination.


Always read every word in the question carefully. As you read, look for keywords or key phrases in the case situation and stem of the question. Keywords or key phrases will focus your attention on specific or critical points that you need to consider when answering the question.

Some keywords or key phrases may indicate that all of the options are correct and that it will be necessary to prioritize to select the correct option. Remember, as you read the question, look for the keywords or key phrases; they will make a differece with regard to how you will answer the question.

What are the Common Used Keywords or Key Phrases to look for?

Common Keywords or Key Phrases That Indicate There Is Only One Correct Option

Early sign
Late sign
Goal has been achieved
Adequately tolerating
Needs reinforcement of the instruction
Lack of understanding
Goals have not yet been fully met
Has not met the outcome criteria
Unable to tolerate

Common Keywords or Key Phrases That Indicate the Need to Prioritize

Most likely or least likely
Most appropriate or least appropriate
Highest or lowest priority
Order of priority
At highest risk
At lowest risk
Best understanding

Early Sign
Late sign
Most likely
Most appropriate
Highest priority
Order of priority
All nursing intervention that apply
Goal has been achieved
Adequately tolerating

Least likely
Least appropriate
Least priority
Least helpful
At lowest risk
Need reinforcement of the instruction
Needs additional teaching
Lack of understanding
Goals have not yet been fully met
Has not met the outcome criteria
Unable to tolerate

More to follow...

SOURCE: Saunders Strategies for Success for the NCLEX-RN Examination

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