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The standardized test enigma


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Standardized tests are a familiar concept to nurses–we have to take numerous ones during the span of our careers. At the very least, you will take your state administered NCLEX exam. If you get your bachelor’s degree, you’re looking at the SAT. If you further your career with a certification, there’s another standardized test. And if you choose to further your education, you have the possibility of YET another standardized exam (the GRE).

You would think we nurses would be experts at this whole test taking strategy thing, right? Nope.

I know I’m not the only one who suffers from the following disorder. I haven’t come up with a good name for it, but for now, we’ll call it the “I think, you think, you might” catch.

Here’s how it works: You read a multiple choice question. Then you read the possible answers. It usually comes down to a choice between two answers and one distractor.

You read the answers, and your gut tells you it’s the answer B. You’ve convinced yourself that it can’t be A because of some aspect of the sentence. But it can’t be that easy. The answer can’t be B. Maybe it’s really A?

Maybe B is the distractor?

Wait a minute. What about answer C? I mean, I don’t even know what answer C IS! But answer C looks good. Maybe I should know what answer C is. Maybe I missed that when I was studying.

Answer B seems right. Answer A can’t be right, and while I have no idea what C is, it sounds like it could be the right answer?

You somehow convince yourself that the correct answer is C. You mark C.

You come to discover later that B WAS the correct answer and that answer C was just a distractor.

How in the world do we continually talk ourselves out of the correct choice? Did I mention I’m not a fan of standardized tests?

Or maybe it’s just me. Am I all alone in this? Anyone else out there have this problem?

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