Trouble Deciding Between 2 Answer Choices?

Choosing the correct answer on an NCLEX-style question is tough!  In fact, one of the most common challenges I hear from nursing students is that they are GREAT at narrowing the possibilities down to two choices…then they always pick the wrong one!  Do you ever have that problem, too?

I wish I had an easy solution for you, but the problem is more complex than it appears.  The bad news is that you can’t fix it overnight.  But the good news is that you CAN fix it!

The first thing you need to know is that test writers WANT you to have this problem! They’re not trying to be mean, but their goal is to use a series of multiple choice questions to decide if you know how to “think like a nurse.”  So every question they write contains one correct answer, and at least one very good distractor.

Students who have learned how to confidently “think like a nurse” can generally tell the difference between the correct answer and the distractor, so they make the right decision most of the time.  But students who are still learning to “think like a nurse” are much more tempted by the distractor, and frequently choose the wrong answer instead.

If you find that you’re still stuck in the “learning to think like a nurse” category, here’s a tip to help you start improving your results on these difficult types of questions.

Sometimes It Really IS That Simple

One common reason that students second-guess themselves is that they assume that something is always “wrong” in the scenario.  If you’re given a scenario that describes a patient with symptoms that you think might be normal or expected given the situation, then chances are that those symptoms ARE normal or expected given the situation!  No need to call the doctor or make any drastic nursing actions.  Simply choose an answer that reflects the fact that everything is fine.  The test writers are trying to trick you into thinking that you don’t have the nursing knowledge you need to identify what is wrong.  But sometimes, there’s nothing wrong at all!

Of course, test writers have a lot more tricks than that up their sleeve, but this is a pretty common one that they like to use.  Now that you know what the test writers are trying to make you do, I hope that you’ll begin learning how to see through their “tricks” and start seeing the difference between a distractor and a correct answer.  Good luck!

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