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NCLEX Study Guide: Common Questions

Higher Education Articles July 5, 2013

The National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse test, or NCLEX-RN, is a mandatory test for anyone hoping to become a Registered Nurse (RN). Generally speaking, the standardized test is a computer-based test that is designed to measure skills learned, knowledge acquired as well as how well you will fare in terms of job demands. The test is long and complicated. It is recommended that test takers allow up to six hours of time to take it. And the test is an adaptive one, meaning that the questions you receive are based on your previous answers. The more you struggle with the test questions, the more you will have to answer and vice versa. And the multiple choice test is also known to consist of questions containing multiple correct answers, further complicating the matter.

Not surprisingly, the NCLEX test offers common questions on literature math, and nursing. At the end of the test, you do not receive a score, just notification on whether or not you passed or failed, so it is even harder to judge where you went wrong if you need to retake it.

Yes, the test is tough, but after obtaining a nursing degree and creating a study guide to help you prepare, you should not have a problem passing. Here are seven common question types that you will likely be asked on the NCLEX test to base your studies and preparation around:

Physical Challenges: There are a variety of ways that nurses go about getting patient information and diagnosing potential illnesses. One way is through physical activity. Because of this, be ready to answer questions on some of the physical signs and symptoms that are administered by nurses. For example, if you are asked about why you would have a female patient bend over at the waist and have their arms hang freely, you would be testing the patient for scoliosis. Hence, that would be the correct answer.

Disease and Illness Questions: Do you know the signs and symptoms of specific diseases and illnesses? If you do not, you had better brushed up, because you are going to be asked about them. For instance, test questions will likely ask you to select the answer choice that is not a symptom of a specific disease, from scarlet fever to Hepatitis A.

Medication Questions: As a nurse, you are expected to know which medications do what and what medications are proper for patients, especially when allergies and other medical conditions are factored in. So be prepared to answer a variety of questions on medication and when it is and is not appropriate to give specific medications to patients that may be experiencing certain health issues. There are also questions that ask about correct dosages.

Milestone Questions: Aside from hypothetical questions on the scenarios that nurses may experience in a day’s work, there are also milestone type questions that are asked on the test. For instance, nurses are expected to be knowledgeable and authoritative professionals, able to advise on a variety of issues. For instance, a question might list several behavioral actions from a two year old and ask the test taker which one is abnormal.

Symptoms: Test questions also focus on a hypothetical situation and ask about symptoms in terms of causes for concern. For instance, one question might paint a scenario where a patient is recovering from hip surgery and list four post-surgery symptoms that the patient is experiencing. Which one should be the most concerning?

Scenarios: Several test questions focus on hypothetical scenarios and offer multiple choice answers in terms of what the best course of action is. For instance, one question might consist of a scenario where a patient enters the emergency room complaining of chest pains. What course of action would you take to treat him or her? You would have to narrow down the choices and select the best answer.

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