Oh how we dread exams, quizzes, certification exams, etc. As someone with test anxiety, I completely understand and probably dread it more than the average test taker.

One thing that I have learned is: you must know the content like the back of your hand and know how to break down content.

Let’s talk about it. Tips on how to breakdown test questions.

  1. Read the stem of the question.
  2. Look for any key words or absolutes.
  3. Review the content in the question.
  4. Eliminate the obvious incorrect answer choices.
  5. Pick an answer and DO NOT change your answer.
Read the stem of the question.

READ THE STEM OF THE QUESTION!

First thing is first, before you do anything else… READ THE STEM… The stem of the question is the actually part that includes the question mark. This is typically the last part of the question. Reading the stem allows you to identify what the question is truly asking.

Next, look for any key words or absolutes. Key terms are words such as NOT, EXCEPT, etc. Absolute terms are words such as ALWAYS, ALL, NONE, etc.

These terms will allow you to see what the question is asking as well. Nothing is absolute in healthcare, so avoid answer choices with absolute terms included.

REVIEW THE CONTENT IN THE QUESTION.

After understanding what the question is truly asking, now you can review the content provided in the paragraph. This will allow you to take the needed information to answer the question and eliminate the excess fluff that is often included.

ELIMINATE THE OBVIOUS INCORRECT ANSWER CHOICES.

Now, we can typically eliminate at least two incorrect answer choices. Review all choices and look at them in a true or false format. Eliminating the false choices.

PICK AN ANSWER AND DO NOT CHANGE ANY ANSWERS.

This is what I stress the most, do NOT change your answer unless you are 100% sure that is incorrect. DO NOT CHANGE YOUR ANSWER!!!!!!!

Try this out as you complete practice questions and tell me what you think.

Happy Studying!

Dr. Brittany Winestock, FNP-BC