The standardized standard

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I’m not sure if it’s a requirement for all nursing schools, but it seems that all of the schools I have heard of have some type of standardized testing system to test our knowledge.
Our school uses ATI testing, others use HESI or other testing companies.  Part of me understands the importance: we’re going to be responsible for all the information we learn in school, so it’s important to make sure that we all really know it and are up to par when we go out and prepare for the NCLEX and start working. It makes sense to have a standardized set of books with a standardized amount of pertinent information with a standardized method of testing knowledge. That’s all fine and dandy to me, but there’s a very frustrating side to it as well.

Since we use the ATI tests to measure our knowledge, we have a set of ATI books AND a set of classroom text books. Sure, some of the ATI books use our texts as it’s major reference, and much of the nursing information is the same across the board; but the information covered on every page of the ATI books has the potential to show up somewhere, in some way, on the ATI exam, whereas in the 10 weeks of our quarter (9 weeks with furlough days – thanks California), we’re not able to cover every page of out textbooks, let alone the extra pages of the ATI book, yet we’re still expected to learn it and do well on the exam.

Even more frustrating was the ATI exam we had to take today. It was the comprehensive med surg exam – definitely something important we should be tested on. BUT, as I mentioned in a previous post, we’ve just come out of 3 quarters sans med surge (ie. OB, peds, and psych), and it’s only the second week of the quarter. We’re expected to study for (in one week’s time) and excel in a test full of information we haven’t covered since last summer. And we’re graded on it! I definitely see the importance of being tested in med-surg, or in any and all of the rotations, but I just don’t think it’s fair to spring this on us so early in the quarter, after such a long hiatus.

I know things are accelerated for us in a sense since we are on a quarter system (10 week sessions) but I think that if we’re going to be held to the standardized standard, we need to be taught from that standard rather than another adjunct textbook. There isn’t even much congruence between the practice questions in the book, and the questions on the exam, it’s like they are taken from somewhere else entirely.  The final ATI exam is a major determinant of our graduation status, it’s just very frustrating that there doesn’t seem to be a way to possibly get through all our class assignments and read the entire ATI book (the medsurg book has about 1100 pages). It’s an odd situation, of course it’s important for us to be tested on the information, there’s no doubt about it; but I know it has been frustrating as students  to be held responsible for an extra textbook’s worth of information every quarter.  There are many more to come… I guess for now we have to bite the bullet and study twice as hard. Back to the books for me!

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