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Test Taking Strategies (PNLE)

Test Taking Strategies

By: J.L. Jalandoni R.N.

The board exam is a test for entry-level nurses. This means that it does NOT expect you to know everything. So, don’t panic when you encounter questions and you do not have any idea what is being asked. Use test taking strategies in answering it.

After doing an extensive review and you still feel like you don’t know enough, don’t feel bad. It’s natural to be anxious. A little anxiety will actually help you during the board exam as it will keep you alert and focused.

Test Taking Strategies:

Take time in reading the question, read the question carefully and find out what the question is asking. Keywords are very important. Keywords in the question are usually associated with the option containing the right answer.

Be aware of the time, if you don’t know the answer take a deep breath and proceed to the next question. You need to answer each question for around 1 minute. The remaining time will be spent on taking a break once in a while when you feel tired and shading your correct answers to your answer sheet. I personally recommend a 3 minutes break every 20 minutes of answering questions.

Never, change your answer unless you are absolutely sure with your new answer. (Erasures in answer sheets are not recommended)

When answering questions which you have no idea, choose the longest option. It takes more words to make the statement correct and also remember that more words may also make the statement wrong so read them carefully.

Always focus on the Patient’s Ability rather than the Patient’s Disability. Interventions must be client/patient centered.

In choosing answers, always begin with INDEPENDENT NURSING ACTIONS.

Nursing interventions:
Independent are nursing actions that the nurse may perform for the patient without the need of a doctor’s order.
Interdependent are nursing actions that collaborates with other members of the health team (Patient, Dietitian, Med-techs, Pharmacist etc.).
Dependent are nursing actions that requires a doctors order.

The nurse is caring for a patient with a fever. During the morning rounds, the patient complains of headache. The nurse proceeds to check the temperature and finds it to be elevated at 37.9 C, the nurse should:
a. Administer paracetamol to relieve headache and fever as ordered
b. Perform a tepid sponge bath
c. Document the temperature and call the Physician
d. Check CBC for signs of infection
In the example above, the independent nursing action is option B. Therefore option B is the correct answer.

Choose the option that is totally different from the other choices and stick with it.
The nurse is caring for a patient on heparin infusion. During the morning care, the patient complains of sore gums after brushing teeth. The nurse should:
a. Stop the infusion
b. Notify the doctor
c. Assess for bleeding
d. Administer protamine sulfate

In the example above, options A, B, and D are all nursing interventions. Only option C involves nursing assessment. Therefore option C is the correct answer.

If you don’t know the right answer, look for the wrong answer and try to eliminate it first. This will narrow down your options.

Another Test Taking Strategy is that if the question is asking for a positive answer, choose the answer with positive result and vice versa. Absolute words are usually negative. Choices with “always” “all” “never” “only” are considered negative. Nursing science in not absolute.

If you encounter options that are all correct, look for the umbrella type of option that fits all the other option. Remember that no two option can be correct at the same time.

One of my favorites among the Test Taking Strategy is that if you have no clue for any of the option, choose option C. Option C is usually the best or the worst answer that you could come up with. If you are the examiner, you always put more thinking of the option C making it a tricky option.

All of the Above option, and you are positively sure that two answers are correct, and one option is doubtful, choose the All of the Above option. Remember that no two option can be correct at the same time.

The Coma, Coma and Rule in Test Taking Strategy To use this, first categorize the options with the same answers, then look for the answer that is incorrect. All other option with the incorrect answer are wrong.

If the question asks about “What Nursing Action” Always think about the NURSING PROCESS “A.D.O.P.I.E.”

If the question asks about “Patient needs” Always think about the “MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS” and remember that PHYSIOLOGIC NEEDS is priority.

If the question asks you about “Prioritization” Always think about the (ABC) Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. If you cannot find these, choose the option which prioritize SAFETY.

In eliminating options, the similar options are automatically wrong options. For example bradycardia and slow pulse. Since both have the same meaning, automatically eliminate both of these option. No two option can be correct at the same time.

Look for opposite options. Example: High Blood Pressure and Low Blood Pressure. These options are the exact opposite. One cannot exhibit both symptom at the same time making one of the option correct.

In Psychiatric Nursing, verbalization of patient’s feelings is very important. Remember not to reinforce hallucinations and delusions. Acknowledge feelings and present reality. Nursing diagnosis is usually focused on Altered thought process/content. Goals set for patient/client is to have an optimal level of functioning.

In a community setting, the Vision Statement have words like disease free and progressive health for Filipinos. The Mission Statement have words like availability, accessibility, and affordability. The Goals Statement have words like promote, reduce, quality and equality of health for men and women.

  • Do practice in answering Nursing Board Exam Questions everyday as this will help you to develop test taking strategies. You need to answer at least 2000 Nursing board exam questions for you to pass the local board exam.
Test Taking Strategies by: JL. Jalandoni R.N.

Check these things several Days Before:
1. Ensure that all PRC documents, prescribed calculator, pencil, sharpeners, and pens are in order.
2. Visit the site of the exam and the exact room assignment a day before the exam. Also, try locate where the nearest comfort room is located.
3. Get adequate rest and sleep
4. Avoid dairy products and fatty foods at least 2 days before the exam
5. Check nursing uniform and shoes to ensure that everything still fits
6. Plan meals ahead (consider availability of food in exam site)
Check these things on the Day of the Exam:
1. Bring water (remove labels), candies, and light snack
2. Place all belongings in a clear plastic envelope
3. Bring medications such as anti-diarrheals, no-drowse cough and cold remedies, Broncho dilators if asthmatic, Paracetamol for headache, toothache, etc.
4. Be at the exam site early
5. Always listen to the instructions given by the proctor. Ask questions when in doubt.
6. Take toilet breaks before the start of every exam.
7. Avoid discussing answers with others in the lobby as this will tend to increase anxiety. Use the time instead to relax in preparation for the next set of exams.

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