Test Taking Tips for Students Morton Diamond F.A. Davis Company

More Test-Taking Tips for Students from our author, Dr. Mort Diamond

In my earlier entry, I wrote about common errors made by test-takers. Probably the most common error made by the test-taker is that he or she hurriedly reads the stem without careful attention to all details.

Here is another example:

Question: A 46-year-old woman has a two-week history of worsening dyspnea without cough or fever. Blood pressure 160/60 mm Hg, pulse 116/min/regular, respirations 30/min. Jugular venous pressure is normal. Bibasilar lung crackles are heard. The apical impulse is in the 6th intercostal space. An apical S3 gallop is heard. One plus (+/4) bilateral ankle edema is noted. Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis?
A. Systolic heart failure
B. Diastolic heart failure
C. High cardiac output heart failure
D. Apical ballooning syndrome
E. Takayasu arteritis

This is what the test-taker sees:

A 46-year-old woman has a two-week history of worsening dyspnea without cough or fever. Blood pressure 160/60 mm Hg, pulse 116/min/regular, respirations 30/min. Jugular venous pressure is normal. Bibasilar lung crackles are heard. The apical impulse is in the 6th intercostal space. An apical S3 gallop is heard. One plus (+/4) bilateral ankle edema is noted. Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis?
A. Systolic heart failure
B. Diastolic heart failure
C. High cardiac output heart failure
D. Apical ballooning syndrome
E. Takayasu arteritis

The problem: The test-taker, in hurried fashion, could ignore the vital signs. The increased pulse pressure is the key to high cardiac output heart failure. Ignoring the vital signs will cause the test taker to be confused, to waste time, and, often, choose an incorrect answer.

Always read the vital signs – they are often an important clue to diagnosis.

 

Our guest blogger, Dr. Morton A. Diamond (AKA, The Professor), is Professor and Medical Director of the physician assistant program at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is the author of the F.A. Davis title, Davis’s PA Exam Review: Focused Review for the PANCE and PANRE, and also of Medical Insights: From Classroom To Patient, a Jones & Bartlett publication. He has written tens of thousands of test items over his career and was a leading item writer for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. He also has forgotten more words than you and I have ever known and enjoys stumping his publisher with them as often as possible.

Davis's PA Exam Review for the PANCE and PANRE Morton Diamond

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