Prepare for Success
You will find that there are many factors to consider for being successful in the ADN program. You will be required to spend many hours studying, attending classes and seminars, preparing for and participating in lab and clinical experiences. The trick is to juggle your personal life commitments with the demands of the nursing program and to use tools that will contribute to learning and success. Begin preparing now before the first day of classes begins.
Each of us learn in different ways. These ways are called learning styles. Knowing your own learning style can help you develop strategies that work best for you when you are learning. These strategies can aid your study skills and increase test taking success. Although you will be taking a survey to analyze your learning style during the first week of class, you can have an advantage by visiting the vark learning style site ahead of time and practice the strategies that fit your learning style. This site provides a guide to identify your learning style and strategies to match it. Just go to this site and click on "questionnaire."
Math for Medication Administration
Within the first six weeks of the semester you will be required to take and pass a math calculation test for medication administration. Don't panic! There are many reources available to you. This Math Practice link will take you to a sample practice test that you can work on to discover your areas of strengths and weaknesses. This sample test shows the answers--so you can work the problems and check your results. Included in the answers are helpful tips for solving a variety of math problems. There are also some excellent internet sites for practicing math calculations for nurses.
Work on the the math calculations in the various categories. Feeling comfortable with your math calculations? If so, then you are prepared to pass. If you are still feling unsure, review the appropriate chapters in the required Ogden text "Calculation of drug dosages"; it has practice questions and excelllent chapters on all areas of math calulations for medication dosage.
You can find free Math tutoring in the Math lab, and by going to your clinical instructors and math instructors who have hours open to help you. You should always try to get help from your own class instructor first to get some feedback on what it is they expect you to know. To get a complete schedule of the times and the tutors available throughout the week visit the Math lab in the 800 Building (located in front of the Media Center).
Regardless of your learning style, there are some general guidelines developed by our students that everyone can use:
1. Analyze a typical 24 hour day
2. Make a daily "To Do" list: analyze, prioritize, and delegate
3. Keep a daily and weekly schedule
4. Schedule blocks of productive, distraction free study time
Improve your studying skills
1. Take responsibility for your learning.
2. Recognize that "failure" is success.
3. Celebrate your achievement in meeting your goals.
4. Review notes immediately after lectures.
5. Decide what to study and how long and stick to your schedule.
6. Study 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break.
7. Stop studying if you are no longer productive.
8. Organize your information into categories.
9. Study in a special place that is comfortable and has good lighting.
10.Study with a friend, quizzing each other, comparing notes, and predicted test questions.
Specific Steps to Studying for this Nursing Program
1. Review your A & P. Understand normal anatomy and physiology of systems before reading about alterations.
2. Read your text and article assignments before lectures if this works for you.
3. Take notes on the Powerpoint outline and tape your lectures in case you need to clarify your notes at a later time.
4. Use your "Content Outline" in the syllabus to organize your information into smaller categories.
5. Create flash cards from your notes. (You must do this after every lecture!) Also, keep them in the order of the content outline so that it will be easier to study.
6. Following the content outline in the syllabus, re-read each section and/or article that pertains to that particular topic, making additional flashcards from the reading material in your own words.
7. Review your flashcards until you can answer them correctly.
8. Ask yourself if you truly understand.
* If you do move on to the next topic & repeat steps 5 - 7.
* If you do not understand, don't go on! Re-read the section and your notes making additional flashcards if necessary until you fully understand the material, Also, do not be afraid to ask your instructor for clarification if the subject is not "clicking" with you.
9. Study in a special place that is comfortable and has good lighting.
10. Study with a friend, quiz each other, compare notes, and predict test questions.
Testing is the way instructors evaluate how much you have learned. It is not an evaluation of you as a person; however, we often think about ourselves in relation to test results. Think positive! You are a capable and unique person with many great qualities and test results do not reflect this. Give yourself credit for what you do know and learn from what you don't know. At the Study Guides and Stategies website you can find great tips for all sorts of learning, studying and test taking skills.
Here are a few tips especially geared for nursing students from our nursing students:
Before the test:
Be prepared! Study your lecture notes, read the assigned material, and make sure you understand the pathophysiology of each health alteration, so you don't get bogged down memorizing every sign and symptom.
Get a good night's sleep, and even physical exercise is said to sharpen the mind.
Don't go the the test on an empty stomach. Fresh fruits and vegetables are recommended to reduce stress. Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk food, pork, red meat, sugar, and any foods containing preservatives or heavy spices.
Get there early, so you can relax just before the exam. Be careful about talking to other students before the exam, because anxiety may be contagious. Make sure you have a computation calculator (no PDA's or cell phones permitted) and an extra scantron and pencil, just in case.
During the test:
Read the questions carefully and underline key words. Identify what the question is asking, disregard what is not needed for answering the question and try to reword the question in your own words.
Before you look at the answer choices, first think what the answer will be. This will help get your brain on the right track.
Make sure you change position every so often to help you relax.
Skip questions you're stuck on and go back to them later. Future questions may give you hints to help you answer correctly.
Don't change your answers unless you are absolutely sure you answered incorrectly. Often our first instincts are right and eraser marks can interfere.
Strategies for difficult questions:
First use process of elimination to cross off answers that you know are wrong.
Eliminate choices that do not answer the question. These answers may be true information but not an appropriate answer to the specific question being asked.
Question the options that are totally unfamiliar to you.
Question options that contain negative or absolute words, as in always, never, every.
"All of the above" is a strong possibility when you know at least 2 choices are right.
When you are asked for a specific number answer, tend to toss out the high and low and consider the middle range numbers. Also memorize normal lab values and how to interpret them.
Be aware of look-alike options. Eliminate choices that mean the same thing and are just worded differently. They can cancel each other out.
If two answers that are opposite of each other, chances are that that one of them is correct.
Tend to choose answers that are longer and more descriptive. Often more detail is given to help you identify the truth.
Recognize homeostasis. Know what is within normal limits and what is not.
Make sure you know the trade and generic names of medications.
Remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. A person's first priority is physiological needs, then safety and security, love and belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Make sure physical needs are met before choosing a psychosocial answer. Also recall the ABC's: airway, breathing, and circulation. Ask yourself what is the highest priority.
Remember that assessment is the first step of the nursing process and has the highest priority over all steps, Remember when asked what you would do first, always assess before you implement your intervention.
Assume that you have a physician order if you are unsure about choosing a nursing intervention that requires one. The NCLEX will presume you know this.
Choose answers based on nursing theory, not necessarily your own experience.
When you see the phrase "further teaching is necessary" look for negative/wrong information. When you see "the patient understands" look for information that is true. Be wary of "Call the physician" choices.
After the test:
Don't panic if other students are finished before you. There is absolutely no prize for being the first one done.
Go back and check to make sure the answer you circled on your test copy matches the answer you bubbled in on your scantron.
Check your Scantron to make sure you answered any questions that you may have skipped.
Check the test and make sure you answered all the questions. Look at the back of the last page.
Make sure your name is on your Scantron and the test copy.
Take a deep breath and do something nice for yourself; it's over!
How many times have you felt overwhelmed, anxious, frightened, or even panicky when you take a test? You may have a very common problem with test anxiety. The main problem with test anxiety is that it can interfere with your test-taking ability and result in hiding what you really know! Many of our students have learned techniques and strategies to overcome test anxiety and as a result have raised their test scores and successfully accomplished their goals. If you suspect or know that you have test anxiety, (or even if you don't) please visit this helpful site This is an excellent source for test preparation, determining the source of anxiety, study strategies, and stress management.