Assessment versus Analysis Questions

Assessment and Analysis are two of the trickier question types because they are higher on the critical thinking scale.  So whenever you are faced with an NCLEX-style question that requires you to take action, make sure that you first differentiate if the question is assessment or analysis.  Identifying the type of question will help you to choose the correct answer.

The first thing to do when you are trying to decide what type of question you have is to ask yourself:  “Do I have enough information to make a decision and/or take action?”

If the answer is NO, then you need to to collect more information.  Whenever you have to collect more information, that means this is an assessment question.  So your answer is going to be something to do with further assessment.

If the answer is YES, then you’re most likely reading an analysis question.  So your next step would be to make an educated guess about what is going on with the patient, or to take an appropriate action.

Let me show you an example.

Question:  The client has asked for their next dose of morphine.  The medication order is for 2mg q4h prn for pain, and it has been four hours since the client’s last dose.  Which of the following would be the best nursing action to take?

Before you even look at the answer choices, put yourself in the situation and start asking yourself some questions.  What kinds of things should you be thinking about?  What do you know about morphine?  What do you know about pain management?  Should you go ahead and give him the morphine, or should you do something else first?

Now let’s ask:  “Is this an Analysis or Assessment type question?”  Alternatively, you could also ask:  “Do I have enough information to make a confident decision, or do I need more information?”

In this situation, you probably need to gather more information before you can safely administer the morphine.  You can come to this conclusion based on what you already know about pain management and morphine as a nursing student.  That means that this question is most likely an assessment question, so the answer choice that you ultimately pick should be something to do with assessment.

Next week we’ll look at this example again with some answer choices to analyze it further.

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