As I get excited about buying new pens and notebooks in the back-to-school frenzy of the late summer, I’d like to elaborate a little bit about study strategies for taking the OCN exam.
To start, familiarize yourself with the OCN Test Blueprint. The Blueprint allows the test taker to have a general understanding of the subject areas being tested, along with the approximate number of questions asked in each specified subject area. Keep in mind that the test consists of 165 multiple-choice questions in total, 20 of which are experimental questions. The testing candidate will not know which questions are scored and which are experimental.
Lay out an effective study plan for yourself and put study times in your calendar, making them as important as anything else. It is best to study in short, distributed sessions rather than by cramming. Repetition and early preparation aid in long-term retention and recall.
Take an exam from start to finish. The ONCC provides one sample exam on its website -- others are available for purchase. There are also review books that have practice exams. I would suggest that you use those that are computer-based to familiarize yourself and become comfortable with the testing environment as well. Fear of technology shouldn’t get in your way on test day. Maneuvering the test on the screen needs to be comfortable for you. When you take this exam at home, replicate the test-taking environment. Minimize your distractions and focus.
If you discover that you are weak in certain areas, review the answers in depth. Read and practice exam questions in those areas in your daily study time. (Here’s where the review books come in handy.) I'd say, take a week or more for a weak area and then move to another.
When you feel as if you have sufficiently reviewed those weak areas, take another practice test. Review those answers in depth and repeat the above steps. Be confident about what you know, and don’t be tempted to spend time reading the review book from cover to cover. (I think we are all programmed to start on page one.)
If you desire more than individual study, consider the review course through ONS or one through your institution (online versus live). Consider forming a study group or getting a partner. Definitely use the free exam and review questions available in review books.
If you are curious to know where the content is derived from, the ONCC provides a detailed list on the references used for the 2013 OCN examination.
Whether you are planning to take the OCN examination in 2013 or next year, the ONCC strongly recommends that you review the most current testing information
in advance so that you are fully prepared to become certified in adult oncology nursing.
Be a part of the back-to-school shopping this year, and treat yourself to a new pen and notebook. Make this the year you take the certification exam!