How to Answer Priority Questions on the NCLEX Exam

High-Yield NCLEX Priority Questions

📍 As a student and nurse, it is vital that you understand how to analyze which patient to see first or which intervention(s) to perform first.

📍 Passing standards on the NCLEX exam requires you to answer questions at the analysis level, such as priority questions.

📍 These are 8 priority concepts you might see on the NCLEX exam, which tests your analysis skills.

  1. Airway compromised: Pulmonary edema, O2 <90%, RR <12, throat swelling, angioedema, child drooling/stridor, vent alarm 

Note: Do not get tricked by things that are not emergent or expected, such as: COPD 92% O2, with 102 fever, mild, moderate, O2 WNL —> wrong answers

  1. Sepsis: Always give fluids then antibiotics 
  1. Hemorrhage: Giving IV fluids is the PRIORITY
  1. Potassium changes: At risk for ventricular fibrillation—deadly rhythm 
  1. Peritonitis: Abdominal rigidity, pain radiates to back
  1. Altered mental status: Glasgow score drops, slurred speech
  1. Hypoglycemia: Blood glucose <70 may lead to respiratory depression and death
  1. Lethargy in peds: Anything along the lines of, “child not acting the same, not eating/drinking, not playing” or signs of shaken baby syndrome

Remember that the NCLEX is a safety exam—they want to know if you’re going to be a safe nurse. Knowing who and what to prioritize is a crucial nursing skill that typically comes with experience. You can use the above strategies to pass the NCLEX exam even without years of experience. Trust your gut and believe in yourself because you know a lot more than you think! 

 xo, nurse nessa

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