Identifying Priorities for Interventions to Improve Nursing Examination Performance

Friday, 17 July 2009: 8:50 AM

Vaneta M. Condon, PhD, RN
Earline W. Miller, PhD, RN
Undergraduate Nursing Program, Loma Linda University School of Nursing, Loma Linda, CA

Learning Objective 1: describe The Exam Analysis process.

Learning Objective 2: discuss the priority interventions to improve exam performance.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to prioritize problems related to poor examination performance and to identify interventions that improve nursing exam scores.

Methods: The Exam Analysis is a diagnostic and prescriptive process in which a student and an instructor identify reasons that the student failed to answer questions correctly on an exam. Descriptive statistics included age, gender, and ethnicity. Pre and post Exam Analysis grades were paired and analyzed for significant changes using the paired t-test method. The Friedman test was used to analyze the frequency of occurrence and importance of each of the four major problems: lack of knowledge, poor exam skills, anxiety, and English language skills. Interventions specific to each problem identified are prescribed. A descriptive survey identified participant’s ratings of the importance of specific interventions in improving exam scores following The Exam Analysis. Information on how to use The Exam Analysis method is included.

Results: Comparison of pre and post test exam scores showed a highly significant increase in scores (M 3.3, SD 10.6, p<-.001). In comparing the four major types of problems identified it was found that lack of knowledge was significantly more important than exam taking skills, and exam skills were significantly more important than either English language skills or exam anxiety (p<.005). A descriptive survey rated the importance of the prescribed interventions in the following order: study skills, exam taking skills, strategies to decrease anxiety, and English language/vocabulary skills.

Conclusion: Participation in The Exam Analysis significantly improved exam scores for nursing students at one University. Problems identified led to prioritized interventions. The effectiveness of this method could be studied with a wider population and, if useful, be adopted by other schools.