When you thought you knew everything there was to know about the NCLEX-RN exam; you fall victim to a “trap” question. Now your ego is bruised because you've realized that you don’t know as much as you initially thought.
Merely knowing the information can still lead to getting the question wrong. The issue could have been how the question was asked not whether you knew the correct information or not. The good news is that you’re not alone. Struggling with, what appear to be, tricky NCLEX-RN questions is a very common mistake that can easily be avoided.
One way to avoid falling for trap questions is by learning NCLEX-RN strategies. NCLEX-RN strategies will eliminate time wasted from going back and forth on a question in which you are unsure. You will learn preplanned ways to master the tricky questions in the tips below!
Once you get to a trick question, you will have already prepared on how to answer it correctly, requiring half the time to complete and less brainpower. Without further ado, here are 8 proven ways to master NCLEX-RN Questions.
When you spot the word “Priority” in a question you should immediately be thinking about Airway, Breathing, Circulation (ABCs.) Many times, a priority question comes in the form of, “Which patient should be seen first”.
You must see the patient in the most immediate distress first. This immediate distress is almost always associated with the ABCs. Meaning, if there is an immediate compromise of the airway, neck, or throat of any kind, this patient requires top priority.
The next priority falls under breathing which involves patients having issues with oxygenation, respirations, or lungs. Breathing is a top priority behind the airway however don’t expect a question to ask you to choose which is the highest priority between Airway or breathing since they are both top priorities.
Finally, circulation is a top priority after the airway and breathing. Circulation, such as with cardiac and vascular, is considered a priority in the form of chest pain, heart attack, or stroke. Other circulation conditions that are considered to be priority include patients who are potentially becoming septic as evidenced by organ dysfunction and other sepsis signs. Patients who are potentially actively bleeding should also be prioritized.
Although most students are taught in the classroom by lectures, we all learn and understand information very differently. For this reason, it’s important to expose yourself to alternative ways of learning information. This is especially true if you don’t feel like the current learning style you are using, is working for you.
Supplement your studying with various types of learning techniques such as videos, audio, role-playing, and practice questions. Find a YouTube channel that suits your learning style for complicated topics. There are also various places to find practice questions such as NCLEX-RN Pass which provides over 15+ free questions, and over 1,000 questions to active members.
Once you find your targeted learning styles, your understanding of the information will improve dramatically.
While you’re practicing NCLEX-RN material you’ll start to pick-up on certain patterns and trends. Pay close attention to these patterns while studying.
You might be wondering "What do I mean by patterns? "
If you perform enough questions, you'll notice patterns and trends for certain diseases, medications, or lab values. You will begin to see certain material repeat itself quite often. Once you come across this material over and over again you’ll notice that the same aspects of that particular topic are highlighted.
One example is the medication Lasix. Once you come across Lasix often enough during your studying, you’ll start to notice the patterns. These patterns will consist of certain topics that are repeatedly mentioned in regards to Lasix. Such topics include: diuretic, potassium wasting, used in Congestive Heart failure (CHF), causes slight hypotension, gets rid of fluid.
Once you start recognizing these patterns ahead of time, the answer choices will be easier to choose.
It may seem like certain subjects take precedence over others while you are studying. Don’t be fooled! You can be tested on any topic so be sure you study everything and understand all subjects equally in order to prepare for the exam.
All NCLEX-RN tests are organized in various formats. As a result, you will likely be surprised by the question types chosen for your exam. There is only a minimum of 75 questions (currently 60 questions during COVID) so they can’t cover everything. It would be a shame if you ended up in a situation where you get a test heavily focused on Psych but your strong subject is Cardiac.
Know everything equally well and start keeping track of your weak areas. Once you assess where you are week, focus on making them as strong as the others. The NCLEX-RN Pass practice questions will help you keep track of your weak areas in the progress bar section. It shows how many you’ve got correct and how many you missed in each category.
Understanding questions that require in-depth critical thinking can be one of the biggest challenges of the NCLEX-RN exam. When you get to a question that requires you to think harder on it than the others, it will eat up valuable time. This is why it is important for you to practice processing through critical thinking questions.
A critical thinking question usually requires you to make multiple connections. It’s easiest to tackle these questions by trying to predict the answer ahead of time before reading the answer choices. The answer choices may not directly state one of the answers you thought of but it may be associated with one.
For example, if you see the word lasix in the passage, think of what concepts are associated with this particular medication ahead of time [diuretic, potassium-sparing, Congestive Heart failure (CHF)]
The answer choice will likely not be exactly one of the concepts you thought of ahead of time but may somehow be associated. For instance, the answer choice may mention something about “edema” which is a symptom of Congestive Heart Failure.
For critical thinking questions, you’ll have to learn to make connections outside of the immediate associations. This becomes easier by doing as many practice questions as possible.
The NCLEX is a timed exam. You’ll want to replicate testing conditions as much as possible and that means timing yourself. Test yourself on answering questions correctly and efficiently in a timed environment.
This will also help you get through the test before experiencing extreme fatigue. If you practice for the same amount of time as the actual test, you will build up endurance before test day.
To get the most out of practice questions, quizzes, and tests, make sure to read the rationales for every question, including the questions you got correct. Reading rationales will help you learn how to process through nursing questions. Most practice materials aren’t written by the actual NCSBN NCLEX-RN ® writers themselves. Therefore, as long as you’re improving in your understanding of the material and concepts but understand rationales, you’ll pass the exam.