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The Next Generation NCLEX starts from 1 April 2023, bringing new question types. We want our students to be informed about these question types and know the strategies to tackle them. Hence we are publishing a series of articles discussing these new question types and techniques to solve them.

Select all that apply questions can be tricky because to get the full mark, you need to answer all the correct answers that apply to the question. Earlier, you would not get any points if you selected even one wrong answer or failed to select all the right answers.

The excellent news is NGN is introducing partial scoring. You will get points for every correct option and lose points for every wrong option you choose from the list. (The minimum score you can get on a question is zero). So if you select more right options than wrong ones, you will get partial points.

But still, to get a good score, you must try to answer all the SATA questions with only the correct answers. Hence, in this article, we will discuss the strategies for answering the SATA questions correctly in the NGN exam. But before that, let us briefly understand why many students answer the SATA questions incorrectly.

Reason students answer SATA questions incorrectly.

  1. They don't understand the question:

    In a rush to complete their exam, students often get anxious and fail to read and understand the question accurately. This leads them to answer incorrectly.
  1. They haven't practiced:

    Many students feel confused and intimidated by SATA questions, so they do not practice them adequately.
  1. They think about exceptions they have encountered:

    The SATA question will be related to the standard of care in a defined situation. Hence, the answers you select should be according to the rules of standard care and not for exceptions.
  1. Students haven't practiced with good SATA questions:



    Unfortunately, students use many poorly written SATA questions to prepare for the exam, which does more harm than good. These questions are not created to the standards of the NGN exam, and no matter how many questions the students may have solved, it will provide low value.

When you are solving the SATA question in NGN, make sure to avoid these mistakes to get a higher scoring. Also, if you want high-quality and yield practice questions to ensure your passing the NGN, check out the ArcherReview NCLEX Course and QBanks.

Tips for correctly answering SATA questions

  1. Play by the rules:

    When practicing as a nurse, you come across some rare cases that must be treated by a method different from the standard. But you must remember that the NGN will be testing you for the standard practices for taking care of the client. Hence, you should think by the rules, not exceptions, while selecting the answer.
  2. Identify the question's purpose:

    The most important thing is to read the question carefully and contemplate what it asks you. Then think of the answer or solution without looking at the list of options.

    Then once you have a solution in your mind, you can check out all the options and select the ones that relate directly to the solution. Remember that there is negative scoring. Hence, you should refrain from selecting options that are not directly helpful or have no effect.
  3. Ask yourself: "Will this help, harm, or do nothing?"

    Some questions will require you to select the necessary interventions for treating a client, like medications. In these question types, you can review each option by asking, "If it will help, harm, or do nothing for the patient?"

    If it helps, select that option. If it harms or doesn't do anything, then eliminate those options.
  4. Observe when two or more answers are in conflict or connected:

    In the SATA questions, you will often find options that are sometimes either connected or conflicting with one another.

    If you know an option to be correct, and other options have direct links with the right option, you can also assume them to be correct. For example, the step given in the correct option cannot be performed before performing the action given in a different option.

    Similarly, when you know one of the correct options, and some options are in direct conflict with the correct one, you may discard the other options. E.g., hypothermia and hyperthermia.
  5. Run the true/false filter:

    Another way of solving a confusing SATA question is by eliminating options by the true or false filter. Consider each option with reference to the question and ask yourself if the option is true/false or yes/ no for that question.



    If the option is false, you can eliminate that option. This will narrow the list and make selecting the correct options easier.
  6. If in doubt, choose safe answers:

    For a particular question, the NGN will reward you for each correct option and negate points for each wrong answer. (Though the minimum mark you can get for any question is zero.) Hence, for a few questions you cannot answer with absolute accuracy, you can try to play it safe and only select options you know are correct.
  7. Build intuition and follow it:

    It would be best if you use the above strategies only when you are confused or don't know the answer to the question. Your primary tools to solve the exam questions should be your knowledge, judgment, and intuition.

    You can master these by covering your NCLEX syllabus and solving plenty of practice questions. Then, when you get experience solving SATA questions, you will develop an intuition that will help you answer these questions quickly. Then, all you will have to do is trust your gut!

Wrap up:

Now that you know the strategies for solving the 'Select all that apply' questions, you should start practicing these with your NCLEX practice questions. Practicing these strategies will ensure that you master them and can use them effectively during the NGN. Also, if you want high-quality and yield practice questions to ensure your passing the NGN, check out the ArcherReview NCLEX Course and QBanks. 

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