The blueprint

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I don’t know how it works in other schools, but at my school, it’s fairly standard for our instructors to provide a “blueprint,” a sort of study-guide for the upcoming exam. Some teachers give us an outline or just the topics, some only list the chapters that are going to be covered, and some don’t provide us with one at all. It’s sort of the luck of the draw when it comes to studying.
These last two weeks have been choc-full of studying craziness (as usual). With all the exams we have to take in nursing school, you’d think I would finally be used to the stress of it all, the way to go over the material. But every class makes me feel like I’m starting over again.  These last few weeks have presented themselves with very different blue prints, and it kind of got me thinking about the whole “study guide” idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the blueprints are helpful no matter how specific or general… a bit of info is better than nothing, right? But one test this month had four pages of detailed specific questions, and the other was a short list of what topics to know.  While I went through every thing on the four-pager, I took maybe a minimum of 30 pages of handwritten notes (all multicolored with markers!). Even though the questions were detailed, I still added more information to my notes, thinking, “well that might be on there, too.” And while none of that extra info was on the test, I still got a rockin’ score and felt like my hard work paid off.  The other, shorter blueprint was a bit scarier, I have to admit. With fewer questions on the second test, there were fewer chances to make a mistake. And with a shorter blueprint, there were fewer clues as to what to study. I followed the guidelines, but added more info as I went through my notes, reviewed the info on my own and with my friends, and come test time, I still felt like I didn’t know enough. I don’t know if a more detailed guide line would have helped, or if it just required more attention to my studying, but some of the questions just seemed out of nowhere.

It’s definitely not the first time it’s happened in nursing school – that’s for sure. But it made me realize that despite what the blueprint says, it’s still our job to get it in our heads. I’ve always known this to be true in the back of my mind, but it’s experiences like this and days like today that really solidify the thoughts in my head.

Nursing students: do you get a blueprint from instructors?  If you don’t what method do you use to review the material?

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