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Matrix/Grid Questions: Advice for Success on the Next Generation NCLEX


As the healthcare industry advances and evolves, so does the need for skilled and competent nurses. The Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) exam is the latest version of the National Council Licensure Examination, which aims to better test the knowledge and skills of future nurses to ensure that they can provide adequate care to their clients.

One significant change in the NGN exam is the inclusion of matrix/grid questions. Matrix/grid questions work like a case study that unfolds as you answer questions, allowing for multiple answers and different options on each row. They assess your ability to make safe client care decisions and to choose the right solutions based on the information presented.

In this blog, we will explore what matrix/grid questions are, why they are important, and tips for solving them on the NGN exam.

What are Matrix/ Grid Questions?

A matrix/grid question is a question that presents a case study with multiple questions that appear on each row. The matrix/grid question format allows for multiple answers and different options on each row, usually indicated by radio buttons. You can only select one radio button on each row, and square buttons indicate more than one correct answer per row.

Column options may include indicated/not indicated, effective/ineffective/unrelated, risk factor/ not a risk factor, and anticipated/not anticipated. These questions evaluate your clinical judgment skills and ability to make safe client care decisions.

In the NGN exam, you will be presented with layers or tabs in an EHR mockup and then asked for appropriate interventions or assessments on each row. With matrix/grid questions, the NGN assesses how well you can gather the relevant information from the EHR to choose the correct answers.

Why are Matrix/Grid Questions Important in Next Generation NCLEX?

Matrix/grid questions are essential in the NGN exam because they reflect the current trends in healthcare and the need for nurses to be highly skilled and competent in their roles. The matrix/grid question format enables test-takers to demonstrate their ability to gather, interpret, and apply patient data and select the most appropriate care interventions.

These questions also require test-takers to use critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and problem-solving skills to make safe client care decisions. Therefore, matrix/grid questions provide a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of your competence in clinical judgment than traditional multiple-choice questions.

Tips for Solving Matrix/ Grid Questions

Solving matrix/grid questions can be challenging. Still, with some preparation and practice, you can improve your skills and boost your chances of success. Here are some tips for solving matrix/grid questions on the NGN exam:

  1. Read the instructions carefully:

    Regarding matrix/grid questions, reading the instructions and questions carefully is crucial. These questions are often complex and may have multiple layers of information, so it is essential to understand what is necessary to answer the question.

    Start by reading the instructions carefully to ensure you understand how to answer the question. Next, read each question carefully and ensure you know what is being asked. Finally, you may need to review the patient's medical record in the EHR to fully understand the question and make an informed decision.

    Take your time to read the question carefully, and pay attention to any critical details or cues that may be relevant to the patient's condition and the context in which the question is being asked. By reading the instructions and questions carefully, you can avoid mistakes and increase your chances of selecting the correct answers on matrix/grid questions in the NGN exam.
  2. Understand the patient's case:

    To answer matrix/grid questions on the NGN exam, it is essential to have a deep understanding of the patient's case as presented in the EHR (electronic health record). Matrix/grid questions often present a complex scenario with multiple layers of information. Therefore, understanding the patient's case is critical to making informed decisions.

    Review the patient's medical history and current health status to fully understand the patient's case. Take note of any pre-existing conditions, allergies, medications, and recent changes in the patient's condition. Also, pay attention to any laboratory results, imaging studies, and other diagnostic tests, and note any abnormalities or concerning findings.

    Next, review the patient's symptoms and the reason for the hospitalization or clinic visit. Take note of any complaints, such as pain, shortness of breath, or fever, and consider the possible causes of these symptoms based on the patient's medical history and other information in the EHR.

    Once you thoroughly understand the patient's case, you can begin to answer the matrix/grid questions.
  3. Use critical thinking skills:

    Critical thinking skills are crucial when solving matrix/grid questions on the NGN exam. Critical thinking is objectively analyzing and evaluating information, using logic and reasoning to make informed decisions. In the context of the NGN exam, critical thinking involves applying your knowledge of nursing practice and clinical judgment to the patient case presented in the matrix/grid questions.

    When answering matrix/grid questions, remember to approach each question systematically, taking the time to carefully consider all available information before making a final decision. Then, use your critical thinking skills to evaluate each option and select the one that is most likely to lead to safe and effective patient care.
  4. Practice, practice, practice:

    Practice is crucial in developing the skills necessary to succeed in the NGN exam, especially when solving matrix/grid questions. In addition, by practicing frequently, you can improve your ability to analyze patient cases, use critical thinking skills, and make informed decisions prioritizing patient safety.

    You can practice solving matrix/grid questions for the NGN exam in several ways. One option is to use practice exams and review materials designed to help you prepare for the NGN exam. Hence you should check out the Archer Review NCLEX courses and Qbanks, which are specially designed by our experts while keeping NGN in mind. These will help you practice the matrix/ grid questions well and pass the exam on your first attempt.

Wrap Up:

In conclusion, matrix/grid questions are an essential part of the Next Generation NCLEX exam, which tests the clinical decision-making skills of aspiring nurses. To perform well in these questions, you must be comfortable navigating Electronic Health Records, interpreting complex information, and making informed decisions based on evidence and critical thinking.

By following the tips discussed in this article, you can improve your chances of success in the NGN exam and become a competent and confident nurse. Remember to stay focused, manage your time effectively, and practice using sample questions and mock exams. With the proper mindset and preparation, you can overcome the challenges of the NGN exam and achieve your dream of becoming a registered nurse.