Strategies to Increase Comprehension

Hearing: Read difficult passages aloud. Talk it out with co-workers or study partners. Hearing the content allows you to take in the data through more than one of your senses, increasing the likelihood that you will retain the information.

Seeing: Draw it. Map it. Visualize it. Review all tables, charts and graphs first.

Writing: Summarize what you have read in your own words. Make index cards with concepts, questions or vocabulary on one side and the answers on the other.

Loading: Be sure to know your base knowledge, such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, English, developmental psychology and sociology.

If you are weak in one of these areas or your knowledge is old, it may be time for a review. Many times, knowing the scientific principle behind the concept can help in selecting the better of two answers.

Re-configuring: Rearrange the material—use the Content Guide as your focus and organize accordingly. Pay attention to the percentage weight in each content area on the exam—the higher the percentage, the more time you should put into studying that particular area.

Processing: A good example for processing information is the nursing theory examinations. These exams test your ability to apply one or more of the steps of the nursing process in selecting the correct answer. Two-thirds of the exam questions are written in this way; the remaining one-third consists of questions testing basic knowledge.

Improve your understanding of the nursing process by reading and studying from the chapters in your fundamentals and critical thinking textbooks. Test items are not randomly written—they are designed to test your knowledge of a specific concept from the perspective of one of the five steps of the nursing process.

When trying to answer questions testing application, it is important that you identify which step of the nursing process is being used. This should contribute to your ability to recognize what the test item is asking. For example, a question that tests your understanding of the assessment step of the nursing process may be worded as “which assessment would most likely indicate that a patient was dehydrated?”

Or, in testing your knowledge of the planning step of the nursing process, you may see questions such as “The nurse is caring for a patient with a below-the-knee amputation of the left leg. Which would be a realistic short-term expected outcome (goal) for this patient?”