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Answering questions  

Last Updated: Jun 20, 2016 URL: http://onlinelibrary.myihm.com.au/content.php?pid=678706 Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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The steps

Understanding ALL OF the question

Underline parts of the question

Most questions you encounter when you study will have more than one part, clause or concept. All parts of the question are important. By dividing the question up into parts and underlining each part, you can address the parts one at a time. Usually it is best to address the parts of the question in the same order in which they appear in the question.

Eg.

Steps to answering:

1.       Briefly explain the meaning of polypharmacy. Eg. Polypharmacy literally means many drugs. It refers to a patient being on a large number of forms of medication.

2.       Give an example of how it may cause a problem. Eg. Polypharmacy can cause problems. For example, if the various forms of medication a patient is on are not being accurately tracked and monitored, a medication may be prescribed that causes drug conflicts when administered in conjunction with the other medications.

3.       Suggest a strategy that nurses may use for preventing it (the problem). Eg. Nurses can prevent this by keeping the drug chart accurate and up to date and doing a routine check for drug conflicts when a new drug is prescribed.

So the complete answer would read:

Polypharmacy literally means many drugs. It refers to a patient being on a large number of forms of medication.

Polypharmacy can cause problems. For example, if the various forms of medication a patient is on are not being accurately tracked and monitored, a medication may be prescribed that causes drug conflicts when administered in conjunction with the other medications.

Nurses can prevent this by keeping the drug chart accurate and up to date and doing a routine check for drug conflicts when a new drug is prescribed.

 

Questions that include information

Many questions also provide you with some information. A common format will be a case study, example or statement that is followed by a question. In this instance, use a similar approach to that which was shown above. Follow these key steps:

1.       Highlight or underline each piece of information provided. If you can, use a different colour to underline each piece of information to the one that you use to highlight each part of the question;

2.       Identify the first part of the question that you are going to address;

3.       Write what you think is the answer to that part of the question;

4.       Check each of the pieces of information to see whether they are relevant to what you have written and;

a.       If they support it, add to what you have written by linking it to the information (see evidence) or;

b.      if they contradict it, then consider changing your answer

 

Look things up

Are there any words or terms in the question you don’t understand? Circle them. See whether you can work out the meaning from the context. Look them up. Places you can look them up include Wikipedia, nursing/medical dictionaries or a search engine. Remember that some words can have different meanings in different fields of study, so you may need to try several sources.

What if I still don’t understand?

If you still don’t fully understand the question, you are still better off than you were before. Now you know specifically what part you don’t understand. Unless you are approaching the question under examination conditions, you can get help. Ask a classmate, an educator, an academic support staff member or anyone you know who is good with language and terminology.

Giving evidence

Indicate where you got facts and figures

Simply making a statement is much less convincing than making a statement with evidence. If you found out something that you are saying from a book, journal article or other source, then mentioning where you found it will add to the strength of your answer. Remember that not all facts, figures and statistics are universally accepted. If you have one statistic and your teacher has a different one, you will not be marked as incorrect, so long as you mention exactly where your statistic came from.

Some key sentence patterns you can use for this are…

According to <author> (<year>)…

<author> (<year>) points out that…

It is noted in <author> (<year>)…

Refer to information that is given in the question

Linking parts of your answer to information given as part of the question is a great way to demonstrate your analytical skills to your teacher and to make your answer more convincing.

Some key sentence patterns you can use to preface your assertions:

Given that the question mentions…

Since the question states…

Because the person in the scenario…  

Writing a concluding sentence

Your concluding sentence should summarise your answer and highlight its significance. An effective concluding sentence is succinct and gives a sense of completion rather like a perfect cadence at the end of a piece of music.

Here, for example, the concluding sentence is in green:

Polypharmacy literally means many drugs. It refers to a patient being on a large number of forms of medication.

Polypharmacy can cause problems. For example, if the various forms of medication a patient is on are not being accurately tracked and monitored, a medication may be prescribed that causes drug conflicts when administered in conjunction with the other medications.

Nurses can prevent this by keeping the drug chart accurate and up to date and doing a routine check for drug conflicts when a new drug is prescribed.

Polypharmacy is a significant issue, particularly among older patients, and due to the risk of drug interactions, accurate record keeping by nurses is essential.

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