Does it matter if you get a lot of select all that applies (SATA) questions on the NCLEX? Does it mean you're doing good on the exam?
Or does it mean you're doing bad? I'm going to answer that in this Q & A article below.
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Is It Good to Get a Lot of Select All That Apply On NCLEX?
Getting a lot of select all that apply isn't necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It also doesn't mean you're going to pass or fail the exam. The NCLEX is unique to every student, and the questions themselves will be perceived differently depending on your individual strengths and weaknesses.
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The NCLEX “SATA Myth”
A popular myth that goes around is that getting a lot of select all that applies is a good thing because it means you're getting progressively harder questions.
Students go along with the myth because at the surface, it seems to make sense.
What is the NCLEX?
Before I keep going, let me make sure you understand what the NCLEX is and how it's scored. Otherwise, nothing else I say will make sense.
The NCLEX is a computer-adaptive test. Students progressively get more challenging questions until the computer can determine the nursing student will stay above a certain threshold if it keeps asking questions.
The NCLEX progressively asks you harder questions. Most students would probably say that SATA questions are the hardest question formats because, as the name implies, you need to find “all” the correct answers for a given question.
Therefore most students reason, if I'm getting a lot of SATA questions, then I'm getting tougher questions. If I keep getting SATA questions, I must be doing well because the NCLEX keeps giving me harder questions.
The Problem With the SATA NCLEX Myth
That's surface level. If you start going deeper, the myth begins falling apart.
Why is that, you ask?
It's because what a test taker perceives as difficult will vary from one test-taker to another.
You could give 5 SATA questions to Nursing Student A and 20 to Nursing Student B, and you could very well have Nursing Student A struggle more and complain more about their test than Nursing Student B.
It could happen because difficulty level can be subjective based on a student's ability, skill level, and overall knowledge of the question topic.
Unfortunately, perception isn't necessarily a good indicator of how well you're doing on an exam.
Have you ever taken a test and thought you did well only to find out you didn't. Or thought you did terrible only to find out you rocked the exam? It's the same thing.
Perception helps dictate a lot of how you feel, but not necessarily how well you're actually doing.
The last point I want to add that's surprisingly ignored when this myth comes up is that the NCLEX test question writers can make SATA's question easy or difficult based on how they write it.
What You Should Actually Be Focusing On?
Here's what you should be focusing on.
You should be focusing on understanding the NCLEX materials and studying good test-taking principles so you'll be ready to answer any NCLEX question that crosses your path.
How You Can Be Successful on the NCLEX
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