I took the virtual ATI, and it didn’t help me, either! I took my boards in October and passed with 110 questions.
Here is what helped me:
Breaking down the NCLEX questions
A question consists of the stem (part that asks the question), the case (patient’s condition or the scenario), the answer, and distractors (choices that look correct but are actually wrong). It is easier to analyze once you have identified the different parts of the question.
1. Look for keywords
No matter how a long a question is, there is that one word or phrase that bears the most weight. Key words may relate to the client, the actual problem, and to specific aspects of the problem.
2. Repeated words
The same words may appear in the NCLEX question and in the correct answer. It may be the same word or a synonym of the word.
3. Opposite answers
If two choices have opposites, like increased heart rate or decreased heart rate, one of the two choices is usually the correct answer.
4. The Odd answer
The one answer that is different from the rest is apt to be the correct answer.
5. Umbrella principle
If all answers seem to be correct and applicable, choose the one that includes all the choices in it. One answer is better than all the others because it includes them.
6. Eliminate obvious answers
In NCLEX questions asking for a single answer, some choices are obvious to be incorrect. You should be able to identify some of these incorrect responses if they are/have:
the same idea- eliminate choices that have the same concept or idea. these choices are just reworded but if you analyze them carefully, they are actually one and the same
absolute answers- choices containing the words all, never, always and the like are very likely to be incorrect.
unrelated to the question- if the question asks for interventions and the action in the choice is an assessment, it is obviously incorrect.
After eliminating the obvious incorrect answers, analyze the remaining choices and select the option that best answers the stem.
7. Prioritize based on patient’s needs
Questions containing the words initial, first, priority- is asking for your prioritizing skills. The choices are usually all correct but only one should be done first. When prioritizing, you should always remember the following:
• ABC’s- use ABC’s (airway, breathing and circulation). Patients with airway problems or interventions to provide airway management are top priority.
• Maslow’s hierarchy of needs- remember the hierarchy and from there you will know that physiologic needs come first before safety and security and so on and so forth. This is typically used in patients with multiple problems to be addressed.
• Nursing process- Assessment should always be done before planning anything or instituting interventions. Unless the question already has subjective and objective data about the patient, assessment is at the top of the list
• Patient first before equipment- if a patient is attached to an equipment and sudden removal of the equipment causes problems, primary assessment and interventions should be directed to the patient and not to the equipment.
If you see an answer with the choice of airway….always ALWAYS pick that answer. Never call the doc unless you absolutely need to….and pick the intervention you, as the nurse, can do right then and there.
Never base your answer of a question off of the previous question even if you think they are asking the same question…..they aren’t. They are trying to find out if you are safe to practice as a new nurse, and sometimes that is by asking a similar question in a different manner.
Good Luck! I know it is hard…I did it, and so can you!! Go in well rested and go in with confidence. Write your name, RN, on the white board they give you. Read, read, and re-read the question, pick an answer (don’t change it!!) and move on.