“Guessing” Can Be a Good Test Strategy

I bet you’ve never heard one of your nursing instructors tell you to guess on your exam!  But sometimes “guessing” can be a really good test taking strategy…IF you know how to increase your chances of guessing correctly, that is.

When you’re guessing on a multiple choice question, it all comes down to statistics.  If you skip a question, you have a 0% chance of getting it right!  Make a random guess, and your chance automatically increases to 25% (1 in 4).  When you start narrowing down your answer choices by eliminating just 1 or 2 other options, then your chance of guessing correctly can go up even more dramatically.
Let’s look at an example.
A forty year old male patient asks for medication for back pain. He says, “I am useless. I am no longer a man, and cannot be a father.” What is the most appropriate response by the nurse?

A. “I will get your pain medication.”
B. “Tell me more about how you feel.”
C. “I will report this to the doctor to see what we can do.” 
D. “Why are you useless?”
What to do as a nurse? How do you respond? When you’re not sure what the correct answer is, don’t panic.  If you panic and decide to skip the question entirely, remember that you have a 100% chance of getting it WRONG!
Obviously, we can do better to improve your chances for picking a correct answer.  If you can find a way to eliminate just one answer choice from your options, then your chance of guessing the correct answer increases to 33%!  Let’s say that you remembered that you should never ask a patient “why.”  Now you can cross “D” off of your list.
What if you also realize that answer choice “C” sounds similar to “Call the doctor,” which is rarely correct?  Now you can also eliminate answer “C.”  Suddenly, you’ve gone from a 0% chance of getting the answer right, to a 50% chance of getting the right answer!  All because you kept calm, and focused on the information you DID know, instead of being overwhelmed by the information you didn’t know.

So…want to know what the correct answer is?  Just check out this quick video to find out.

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