Learning how to answer SATA (select all that apply) questions is one of the most crucial skills to nursing school success.
Nursing students ask us all the time for tips and strategies on how to successfully prepare for and answer SATA questions.
So we actually created an entire course around nursing school test taking inside our NRSNG Academy.
Inside that course I dive into 11 test taking strategies unique to the nursing school experience, but in this video I wanted to cover three tips for how to answer select all that apply questions. Click here to learn more about NRSNG Academy.
What Are SATA Questions?
Before we dive too much into the strategy, let’s talk about WHAT they are.
The NCSBN (the company that writes the NCLEX) refers to SATA questions as “Multiple Response Items”. Essentially, these are any test question where you are required to select every correct answer from a list of 5 or 6 possible answer options.
They are structured like any regular item (question) except that at the end of the question you will see “Select all that apply” at the end.
We’ve discussed the general anatomy of NCLEX questions previously here.
Common Questions About SATA Questions 🤔
There are a few things that many students ask regarding select all that apply questions:
- How many correct answers can there be?
- Do I get partial credit?
How Many Correct Answers Can There Be?
This is an often debated question in nursing schools. How many correct answers can SATA questions have? Can there only be one correct option? Can all the answer options be correct?
To answer this question, we went directly to the NCSBN (HERE) to see what they had to say about it. Here’s what we found:
Multiple response items may require a candidate to select a single correct response, have more than one correct response, or require all responses to be correct regardless of the number of possible responses
From this response, it seems pretty clear that a SATA question will require AT LEAST one correct answer, several, or all.
This is from the most current update on NCSBN (December 2017).
Here are a couple of other quotes found on NCSBN and learningext.com.
Do I Get Partial Credit?
Short answer: nope
Long answer: . . . nope
With SATA questions it’s all or none. If you get all but one of the correct answers, you still are marked wrong for the entire question.
INTRODUCING: The SATA Success Pyramid
SATA questions are generally seen as more difficult questions and as such it can actually been seen as a good thing if you start seeing a lot of them. Learning how to successfully answer them will help tremendously in your nursing education.
To help in answering these questions, I’ve developed a three step process.
How to Answer Select All That Apply (SATA) Questions:
- Cover All Options
- Evaluate Each Option Individually
- Turn Each Answer Into a T/F Statement
By following these three steps, in order, you will greatly improve your chances of getting these difficult questions correct.
When you cover all the options you eliminate the chances you will become biased in your evaluation of answer options.
It’s really important with SATA style questions that you don’t become biased and that you give each answer option an equal chance without comparing it to the other.
By evaluating each option individually you force yourself to NOT look for correlations between options.
The trap many test takers fall into is trying to batch answers together rather than seeing each one as a mutually exclusive. When this is done you are unable to give each answer option a fair chance.
When you turn each option into a true/false statement, you simplify the options and improve your chances.
Breaking the question down into a simple true/false statement helps you to remove bias and reduce your chances of misreading the answer options.
SIMCLEX®: Computer Adaptive NCLEX® Simulator
One challenge that many nursing students face is that prior to nursing school, we’ve never taken SATA style tests.
NRSNG Academy includes our fully computer adaptive NCLEX simulator called SIMCLEX®. SIMCLEX is just like the NCLEX in that:
- Computer adaptive (it adjusts to you as you take the exam)
- 75-265 questions just like the real thing
- Includes SATA questions
- Includes image questions
- Same layout and design of the NCLEX
- 6 hour time limit
- Detailed stats and question review post test
- Unlimited attempts
SIMCLEX is included with your membership in NRSNG Academy and you get unlimited attempts. We generally recommend you begin taking SIMCLEX as you approach the end of your nursing school journey and prepare for the NCLEX.
This post and video are a brief summary of how to answer these difficult questions. Inside the NRSNG Academy and the Test Taking Course I go into great depth on exactly how to conquer nursing exams . . . we’ve also got thousands of NCLEX style questions (including SATA).
I want to invite you to get started with the NRSNG Academy.