The NCLEX is a specific type of test created purely to determine if the person taking it has studied nursing and understood it enough to be fit to actually do it as their chosen profession.
The Nclex test isn't actually created just to stress and upset those who want to take it, it's aimed primarily at protecting the general public from incompetent practitioners by setting rigorous and high standards for all those in the profession.
Is it any wonder therefore that the NCLEX is a difficult exam to pass, be it the PN or RN version being taken? Hard it is and hard it is meant to be.
But hang on a second, don't start to panic and worry, hands in the air with a 'woe is me what do I do now!?' expression playing across your fevered brow! With the right attitude and ample application of the right exam focused critical thinking skills during the actual papers, it is certainly not impossible for you to walk through the exam relatively unscathed, coming out the other side with a huge smile and maybe an even bigger score!
Critical thinking comes into play on the day that you take the NCLEX, it has to in order for you to be able to assess the presented questions in such a way as to be able to gauge their impact and intent before answering.
In other words - using such an approach enables you to answer very difficult questions, that you would normally have skipped right over, by applying the principles of critical thinking.
At the same time however, don't get me wrong here, preparing for the NCLEX is more than an exercise in just simple memorization, for doing so without critical thinking amounts to nothing more than empty reading. (Empty reading - you know? When you read something, commit it to memory parrot fashion but have no ability to understand where it fits as an answer and in what context it should be used!)
You will still have to understand the question and analyze it as quickly as possible. Remember, the NCLEX is a five-hour exam and spending too much time on a question will take a huge, huge final toll on your score.
Below are our "4 Top Tips" on how best to enhance your critical thinking skills and what you should aim to do to give yourself that edge:
1. You should frame the questions accurately, rereading them to strip out any and all superfluous information. This will enable you to weed out unnecessary information that may tend to muddle the situation more than it should. You should be able to separate what is important and what is not. This way, the question will not only be easier to answer but also easier to understand and analyse.
2. Check the information for relevance. One of the key factors in answering a question is determining the relevant facts necessary in order to answer it correctly. The information provided should be checked for specific areas of relevance and then you should try to ascertain, from the different potential answers you could give, which one does it correspond to the best.
3. Trace implications and consequences. One of the most difficult parts of critical thinking is trying to determine the implications of the information provided in the questions. But through practice, you will be able to determine with relative ease the consequences of the facts provided in NCLEX questions. Look for associations and phrases you would expect to see go together, whether it be describing a scenario with underlying common themes, listed details of a specific issue or just a straight forward nursing practice. Look for the common theme that should run through different issues and use that to best assess the issue presented to you - then clarify implications, consequences and answers!
4. Stay focused and disciplined. Although you may not have time to check and re-check your answers in the NCLEX, it is important to stay focused on the task at hand, which is to pass the test. Discipline is the key to any long exam session. Any distraction will tend to take precious time away from you, leaving you with less chance to actually pass the NCLEX. Although you may not think of this as a standard critical thinking skill - the ability to concentrate your mind onto just one thing for short bursts of time will have a huge impact on your final result! Don't daydream, relax or break off. For 5 hours - it's nose to the stone and keep thinking.
About the Author: Make sure to grab the other 4 Top Tips for Nclex Critical Thinking Skills from http://www.theadvicecentre.info/exams/nclex-critical-thinking-skills.html before you sit the exam!