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Is the test to blame?

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We’ve all had good test. We’ve all had those tests where you’re not sure how it went, but it couldn’t have been that bad. And we’ve had those tests that were just no good. And by “no good” I typically mean that the class average was a B or something along those lines. Despite all those times we were told that having an A average or 4.0 GPA before nursing school was like having a B/3.0 average in nursing school, no one likes those B’s.  So when the tests get handed back for review, everyone pounces on the teacher to have questions reconsidered, have their answers considered, and to make sure the professor has understood what thought process went through their head.

Sometimes we’re luck and the teachers listen. Sometimes the questions really were unfair, or unclear. But sometimes the stakes are high, and we don’t know what to expect going in. Sometimes we’ve heard awful things about the previous class taking the test, and so when we read the first question and don’t get it off the bat, we panic, blocking out all rational thinking.

And other times, the test is just off. I mean, I feel like something needs to be said for a test that the class overwhelmingly does poorly on, right?  We’re at the end of our student nurse careers, and we study, and we generally know what we’re talking about. But there are other factors, we should know what to expect on a test, not be thrown for a loop, or have warning as to the style of questions, right? I guess in nursing we don’t have that warning. I just think that if a group of collectively intelligent students are not scoring high on an exam, there’s more to it than a lack of knowledge, yes?

Nursing students – what happens in your classes when tests go wrong? Are your professors lenient? Should they be?

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.

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5 Responses to Is the test to blame?

  1. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    I of course used to see the ‘pouncing’ with EVERY exam, sad to think we get reduced to a letter grade.
    One of my grad school proff utilizes the most fair means of ‘weighing’ an exam. He looks at the trends for each exam question – and evaluates how the class did as a whole. If a high enough % of students do poorly on a particular question – he believes it was his error (or an error in communicating the concept) and he ‘throws the question out’.
    So far, this is THE most fair means I’ve seen.

  2. Rick Edwards

    In the class I just left, 78 was passing, the class avg was 76. Last fall, 30 started the program and only 16 remain. The instructor told us that their job was not to teach us how to be nurses, but to teach us how to pass the board exam. When a test question was challenged, we had to fill out a form as to why the question or test answer was wrong, but we never knew if the question was thrown out, or we were blown off. Needless to say, I’m no longer in that class.

  3. I am assuming that nursing students are unaware that an answer analysis is completed after each test that a professor creates themselves, especially from a test bank. This is 101 basics of Nursing education. This gives the professor a means of not only evauating the question but the assessment of the class for critical thinking. Since the standard is towards assessment testing to gauge readiness for state boards, such as ATI or HESI the benefits of “pouncing” are diminshed. As there is no person or means of pouncing for either nor at the boards the student would most benefit from learning the content thoroughly, managing the test with learned test taking skills and critical thinking. I know of many individuals with expensive degrees as a result of effective pouncing that earned passing grades, but the inability to practice due to being stumped at the boards.
    Signed–A concerned Faculty.

  4. LTW

    Like most nursing students, I’ve endured my fair share of poorly written exams and the poor grade that I and well over 50% of my classmates received as a result. And I’m sorry, but when poor results are that consistent, the most significant problem lies with the quality of the instruction. The arguments I’ve heard to the contrary are weak at best. Think about it, when a team performs poorly as a whole, it’s almost always the coach who’s fired, not every player on the team.

  5. Abby Student

    I didn’t realize that I wasn’t the only one who expected As in my classes. With a 75 being the passing grade, I don’t understand how for any given test the class average could be a 70