The Dog Ate My Care Plan…

Just a mom/wife/nursing student extraordinaire trying to make it in the big bad city…

Test Tactics

Posted by isntshelovlei on March 31, 2011

So I think I offended some with my tweet about people who study up until the second the scantron hits their desks.

My bad.

It’s just part of my own personal test-taking philosophy I’ve acquired over the years. It consists of three things:

1) I don’t overstudy. I read what I’m supposed to read; I listen to my recorded lectures; and I review my powerpoints and notes. But I gave up some of my more neurotic studying habits. I no longer strategically position my notes on the steering wheel on the way to class so that I can take a glimpse or two at every red light or stop sign. And though I do review the morning/afternoon of the exam I don’t try to cram in the last few minutes while the scantrons are going out. What for? Whatever I don’t know at that point I’m not going to learn in the five minutes before the exam starts. At that point I’ve turned on my “it is what it is” switch. Woo-sah. And to be honest my grades have been better since I stopped driving myself into the ground. I’m more relaxed and I no longer stress-eat on test days. When you overstudy, if you don’t go in there and suffer a total brain fart (which sucks after all that extra effort), you’re overthinking the questions and second guessing yourself—all because you psyched yourself out. And so I don’t (anymore). There’s a lot of information to learn in nursing school and you do need to study. But you don’t need to overdo it.

2) I don’t sit and stare at test questions if I don’t know the answer. What for? The answer is not going to jump off the page waving its arms at you. Pick one and keep it moving. Narrow them down (with multiple choice there’s usually two you can toss out right off the top anyway) and eeny, meeny, miny, moe the rest if you have to. Though on a rare occasion if I’m really torn between two answers I will skip a question and come back to it—you just have to be very careful that you also skip it on the scantron sheet or that can lead to a whole other mess…

3) I never erase. Go with your gut. Usually when you change an answer, you had it right the first time.

I guess it also helps that I happen to be a good test taker. The Kaplan review course for instance that many people like to take before they take their boards (it’s actually required for my program) is actually less about content review and more about how to be a better test taker. It’s all about strategies for breaking down the questions and recognizing traps. I’ve already got that down. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even read the whole question most of the time (which is why it only takes me about 30 seconds per question when we’re allotted a minute and a half for each). Usually, half of the question is superfluous information you don’t need and was thrown in there to confuse you. I choose not be be distracted by the distractors. This is not to say I’m just guessing answers and getting lucky. You do need to have a solid knowledge base to be able to recognize trigger words/phrases and weed out the riff-raff. But hey, this is just what works for me. Different strokes for different folks…

4 Responses to “Test Tactics”

  1. I completely agree with you about over-studying. I am much happier and less stressed since I stopped doing that. I know the concepts I struggle with, and I spend some extra time with those, but otherwise I just try to relax and know what I know.

  2. isntshelovlei said

    Well you know what they say…”wu ji bi fan” (too much of a good thing is a bad thing, Karate Kid 2010) 😉

  3. gertie said

    I couldn’t agree with you more on all three points. I’ve fallen into the trap of over analyzing a test question and erasing my answers and turned out my first answer was right.

    Great info and awesome post! 🙂


  4. Kris said

    I found these study tips to be very helpful to me throughout nursing school. I used to re-evaluate everything and stress myself out on the test. Now I just create a study plan and stick with my gut feeling.

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