Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TEST TAKING SKILLS

Everyone knows that preparing for and taking exams can get quite stressful. So, we’ve gathered a few study tips, test taking hints and relaxation techniques to help you along the way.
General Study Tips:
1.      The “real thing”- Take practice tests and Q & A drills every day. Position yourself in an atmosphere where there will be no interruptions or distractions. Develop your schedule for studying around when you are normally more awake and/or most efficient. Go through an entire drill in one sitting. Give yourself a time limit for finishing the questions. It’s important not to panic if you don’t know the answer. Taking tests is a skill like any other. In addition, taking tests can be extremely anxiety producing for some people. These people perform much more poorly on tests than they normally do in class or on the job. The best way to reduce test-anxiety is through constant exposure. Practice makes perfect!
2.      Create flashcards – Keep track of the concepts and definitions you find most difficult and make a flashcard for each one. Keep the flashcards with you during the day. You never know when you’ll have a couple of minutes between classes or on a work break to give yourself a quick quiz.
3.      Mnemonic Devices – Use mnemonic devices to assist your memory in recalling short lists.
4.      Understanding vs. Memorizing – Don’t memorize material. Instead aim for understanding the material. Nurse Licensure Examinations (NLE) do not test for memorization but rather for an understanding of the nursing concepts. When studying content, ask yourself, “How can I use this information when I care for clients?” However, there are concepts that require memorization (e.g. normal values).
5.      Time Frame – The key to efficient studying is time management. You need to first determine how much time you have before the exam. Next, you need to realistically determine how much free time you have to devote to studying. If you have a couple of months you can study much more leisurely than if you have only a couple of days. Try to make a study schedule based on the time you have available. You should be in the mode to study once you take up the schedule though. Unmotivated studying is not efficient studying! Once you set your study schedule, stick to it. Your unconscious will reward you with greater energy if you stick to your time line.
Test Taking Skill Tips:
1.      Read each question carefully – carefully read each multiple-choice question to ensure a full understanding of the concepts. As you go through the questions look for key concepts that are familiar to you. Understand what the question is asking.
2.      Answer the question first – Try to answer the question before looking at the options. If you cannot answer the question, try eliminating the options that you know are incorrect first. Then analyze the remaining two answers.
3.      Go at your own pace – Don’t pay attention to how quickly other examinees complete their examination. The time taken by a candidate to complete the examination is not a predictor of passing or failing. Pace yourself, keeping note of the time left to complete the examination. Take the time you need to answer each question but try not to spend too much time on any one question.
4.      The night before – Don’t stay up late for last minute cramming on the night before your exam. Instead get a good night’s sleep. Try to clear your mind and relax.

Relaxation Techniques:
1.      Be confident – Don’t let the testing procedure overwhelm you. Remember, the majority of examinees pass the Nurse Licensure Examination (NLE) the very first time. Be confident in what you know – don’t second guess yourself. Think positive. You can pass this examination, you have studied and you are prepared.
2.      Reduce anxiety – Plan to finish studying for the examination at least several days prior to your scheduled time to test. Last minute cramming will increase your anxiety.
3.      Ease tension – Practice deep breathing to decrease tension and manage anxiety. Try to clear your mind if you start to worry. Make sure you eat healthy and exercise prior to taking the examination.
Empower Yourself by Controlling your Thoughts and Emotions
1.      Keep a positive mental attitude.
2.      Challenge negative thoughts.
3.      Practice relaxation techniques.
4.      Desensitize yourself to your fear of tests
5.      Use positive imagery to reduce physical reactions to stress
Prepare for the Test
1.      Manage your daily routine
2.      Exercise
3.      Eat well and limit caffeine.
4.      Understand where you can concentrate
5.      Study in short intervals
6.      Go to all of your classes.
7.      Make flashcards, outlines and summary sheets
8.      Form study groups with motivated students
9.      Over-preparation instills confidence
Test Taking Techniques
1.      Arrive on time for the test
2.      Bring the appropriate tools to the test
3.      Understand all of the directions for the test before starting
4.      Manage the allotted time to your advantage
5.      Concentrate on the simple questions before the complex ones.
6.      Make educated guesses
7.      Maintain a positive mental attitude
8.      Check your answers and answer sheet
9.      Stay away from crowds and anxious people.
10.  Pace yourself
11.  Read every line; don't just scan the questions
12.  Concentrate on one question at a time
13.  Never change your answer unless you are completely sure you made a mistake
14.  Pick the most complete answers and always answer all questions.
15.  Use logic and common sense; your first hunch is usually the right one.
16.  Remind yourself that you are in control!

Composition and Analysis of the Multiple Choice Test Question
Stem- the question.
1.      Case scenario - explains the situation.
2.      Issue - the specific problem or subject of the question.
3.      Analysis - focus on what you know about the issue.
4.      Problem
5.      Procedure
6.      Drug
7.      Disorder
8.      Behavior
Options - choice of answers.
* Distracters - answers that dont answer the question
* Keywords - words that set priority or directionalized care.

General keywords.

ð  Early
ð  Late
ð  Immediately after
ð  Most likely
ð  Least likely
ð  Initial or priority nursing action
ð  After several days
ð  On day of admission

Universal keywords
ð  All
ð  Only
ð  Every
ð  Always

Negative keywords
ð  No
ð  Not
ð  Never
ð  Rarely
ð  Least essential
ð  Lowest priority
ð  Inappropriate
ð  Contraindicated

Tips on How to Examine Multiple Choice Test Questions
Practice critical thinking!
1.      Examine the stem
2.      Reframe the question
3.      Critique the stem
4.      Evaluate

Tips on How to Answer Multiple Choice Test Questions
1.      Try to construct the correct answer before you look at the options
2.      Identify patient-centered options
3.      Identify opposite answers first and closely -- then may be distracters
4.      Identify specific determiners in options such as always, never, all, etc.
5.      When any part of an option is wrong, the entire answer is wrong
6.      Some questions will have a false response; the question may ask you which action is contradicted so you should look for the wrong nursing action.
7.      Identify equally plausible or unique options
8.      Identify options that deny the patient's feelings, concerns or needs.
Tips for Answering True/False Questions
1.      Watch for keywords such as always, never, all or none. Qualified statements including words like these are probably false.
2.      If any part of the statment is false, then the entire statemetn is false.
3.      There are usually more true than false answers.
4.      Most true statement come right out of a textbook or lecture.
5.      Make yourself work quickly; dont't pause to analyze too much!
Words That Appear Most Frequently in Essay Questions
Ö Analyze - To dissect something or break it down into its different parts. To examine relationships among the parts.
Ö Choose - To select freely and after consideration. To state a preference for something. You will usually need to defend your choice; in outher words, you will need to back your choice up with specific examples and persional opinions.

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