Critical Thinking: Choosing the Best Option
A question is like a tree. The root determines the survival of the tree, so as the question keyword. Keyword, when identified correctly leads you to the right choice. The trunk holds the branches and fruit and supports the root. It is the bridge that carries the nutrients from the root to the branches and fruits. A tree cannot survive without the trunk, so as a question without a situation. Identifying and knowing important details in a situation would reinforce the question keyword that will lead you to the choice. A question has three important parts:
Most people have difficulty in the third part. Choosing which the right answer is quite confusing. Options of a question are like the fruits of a tree. For the tree to bear fruits strategies should be used such as the application of fertilizers and etc. To identify the best answer, test-taking strategies should be employed by the test-taker. For me, in answering the nursing licensure examination involves 40% of knowledge and 60% of test-taking strategy or critical thinking skills.
An excellent theoretical foundation is essential to get the right answers correctly. Knowledge on basic concepts in nursing is very important. I am not telling you to memorize everything. But rather understand the concepts. When you memorize a concept, you tend to forget what you studied, if you forget a single word. But when you understand a concept you may be able to apply that understanding in a tricky question.
Why did I designate 60% in test-taking strategy or critical thinking skills? It’s because people who pass the board exam did not knew all the topics. They did not memorize everything but they knew how to deal with the questions. These people knew how to transact the situation and keyword to the options given. They developed their test-taking strategy.
The process of elimination is the widely used technique to be able to choose the best option. Here are some points to remember when using the process of elimination:
- Read all the options even if you are convinced that the first letter is the best choice. Often people don’t read the other choices when they are convinced about a certain option. And at the end, they get a poor mark because the unread option is the correct answer. Some questions offer almost all good choices, so beware of this habit.
- Don’t spend too much time on one item. Always remember that you have a limited time, and if you get confuse with an item, mark it and proceed to the next number. You don’t want to be stagnated in one item where you have chances of getting a correct mark in the following numbers.
- Always refer to the keyword and some important details of the situation.
- Make your questionnaire dirty. You are allowed to write anything on your test booklet. Use your pencil to highlight important details in a question. In dealing with options write “M” (maybe) beside the letter if you are unsure of the answer or “N” (no) if you are convinced that it is not the answer and “Y” if you are sure it is the answer. In cases where you have 2 “M” and 2 “N,” compare the two options you identified as “maybe” and rationalize the options based on the situation and your theoretical foundation.
Most importantly, PRACTICE answering multiple choice questions. Practice tests not only enhance your knowledge but sharpen your critical thinking skills. Remember always rationalize the given options as if you are teaching yourself. Read the rationale of the questions, don’t merely look which is the right choice. Also avoid “overanalyzing” the question. People fail because they tend to reason out in a complicated manner. Practice, rationalize and don’t overanalyze – these are just simple reminders but will absolutely help anyone to pass that big test!
image from nurselearn.com