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Examinees wrestle with stupid and crazy licensure questions

Examinees wrestle with stupid
and crazy licensure questions

By Rodolfo C. Angeles, R.N., M.D.

Board or licensure examinations are necessary. They are important barriers to incompetent “ professionals.” By passing a professional exam, a person more or less gives an assurance that he has at least the minimum knowledge required for his line of work and therefore the general public is assured of his skill and competence.

That is why it is only just and fair that the content of board exams should encompass the scope of the profession—and no extraneous matters be included.

Media coverage of the nursing board controversy has focused on the leakage. Not much has been said about the quality of the test questions used to determine from an examinee’s answer if he or she is competent, skilled or intelligent enough.

Some test questions are highly opinionated and therefore don’t help an examinee learn to become more skilled. Some other questions are too vague to have one really correct answer. The eight questions below are those that have been used in nursing licensure exams. The comments about the questions are by members of nursing academe and the profession.


Which of the following characteristics best describe a newborn cry?

A. Continuous
B. Weak
C. Loud
D. Intermittent


No specific difference between the sexes as several books have mentioned. Besides, the age of the baby was not mentioned. There may be a difference later on as they get older but since age is not mentioned, the question became very vague.


A boy fell while playing his kite on the prairie. You assumed that he has an injury to his lower extremities. Which of the following measures is the first thing to do?

A. Observe closely and respect body alignment
B. Carry the child to the nearest tertiary hospital.
C. Bring the child to the nearest health unit.
D. Call for help


This question is obviously lifted from a foreign setting. The word prairie is not so familiar to a lot of Filipinos considering that “grassland” would have been easier to understand. Using the word set off immediately confusion on the examinee.


Which of these body substances keep a person healthy?

A. Nutrients
B. Vitamins
C. Minerals


All of the mentioned options are correct. Answer to the question is elusive.


Nurse Nancy makes rounds as frequently as necessary for the purpose of:

A. observing patients
B. assessing and meeting patients’ needs
C. keeping the physician informed
D. assessing and meeting patients’ complaints


Question is vague. Choice A is correct,. B & C are almost similar except for the last word. Patient may complain if there is a need. Observing may be a part of assessment.


Nurse Cris makes rounds as frequently as possible for the purpose of:

A. keeping physician informed
B. observing any abnormal changes
C. assessing and meeting patients’ needs
D. protecting her clients


All options are correct. The question does not state if the examinee should choose the most important.


Many nurses are now leaving the country to work abroad. Aside from money, what would be the other primary reason of nurses leaving for abroad?

A. Educational opportunity for their children
B. Immigrant visa
C. Citizenship
D. Health-care benefits


The answer given by the author of the question when she was asked in a press conference is D—health care. Source of answer is her research published only at the UP College Of Nursing. Questionnaire was answered by respondents not in the same age group as the examinees, thus the varied opinion. Answer is highly opinionated.


A nurse was riding a vehicle. She saw a person about to jump from a bridge. What should she do?

A. get down from the vehicle
B. ask for help
C. pray


No relevance to nursing especially since it was asked in medical-surgical part of exam.

Aside from the choices being very vague, question has very small significance to the nursing profession. Answer the examiner wants is very subjective and opinionated. This is a question better asked in a theology exam but not in a nursing licensure examination.


What is the most common problem faced by a nurse working abroad?

A. Adjustment
B. Weather
C Language
D. Nutrition


Answer is in a research finding available only in the library of a school here in Manila. Why expect all nurses from the whole country to know the answer? Too opinionated also.

From past exams:


Regarding widower, the nurse should advise them to get remarried within how many years when he begins to feel bored and lonely being alone in life?

A. 4 years
B. 2 years
C. 3 years
D. 1 year


If the examination is being taken by a nun or a priest, it would have been appropriate to their profession but it has very little significance to nurses.


In the Philippines, our greatest asset in society is our love and contentedness with:

A. hand jewelry
B. parent’s relatives
C. education manners
D. money inheritance


I do not know what the answer is. The questions asks for one’s opinion. The mere fact that you can not find the answer in books makes the question invalid.

Some questions are taken out from the speeches made by the examiners that are available only to some groups; or review materials that were allegedly made exclusive only to some students in some schools. Are the sources of the questions the recommended textbook for use in nursing schools? Are these books even endorsed by CHED?


You were a nurse who was asked to be a godparent of a couple, Rene and Irene. You are aware that your responsibility is serious and you should guide them towards fidelity of the conjugal union. 2 weeks after the wedding, Rene had to leave because he is a seaman. One day you discovered that Irene was seeing her former boyfriend. As a godparent, what will you do?

A. Look after the solidarity of the union
B. Serve as guiding councilor and lead them towards fidelity
C. See to it that marriage is consummated for offsprings to come
D. Witness that marriage was entered with validity and voluntariness


Although it is important for the nurse to have good bioethical background, this specific question about a godparent’s role has small significance to the nursing profession. By giving almost 10 questions about the issue, the board examiners seem to regard the topic as very important to a nurse.


Irene discovered she is pregnant 3 months after Rene left. Rene was very happy when he heard it. However, you as a godparent knew that Irene dated her former boyfriend. How will you advise Irene?

A. It is alright to date other men if her husband is away.
B. Irene has no obligation to tell, she has human rights.
C. Hide this information for it will spoil their marriage
D. Be honest with the husband and tell him about the boyfriend

Note: There were several questions after this, all pertaining to the married life of Rene and Irene.

How can questions like these make it into a board exam whose result would send out professional nurses to work in our country and abroad? Of course, the examiners may tell us that these are necessary in caring for patients, that these questions may be answered with common sense, or that there will be other ways to test one’s competency.

But the work of the board is pretty simple, and it is stated in the nursing law: “Section 14. Scope of Examination.—The scope of the examination for the practice of nursing in the Philippines shall be determined by the Board. The Board shall take into consideration the objectives of the nursing curriculum, the broad areas of nursing, and other related disciplines and competencies in determining the subjects of examinations.”

No wonder the examinees are full of anxiety whenever they face the board exams. They are tense and anxious not because they did not study hard but because they are not sure whether the questions that will be asked are relevant to their knowledge.

I won’t say that it is easy to make exams. But we must remember that the exams being given are the ones used to test competence, knowledge and skills. They can say that board exams are just one way of testing competency, but admitting so would be saying that if you are a good driver, you won’t need to take exams to check your driving skill and knowledge of the rules of the road. Examinations abroad—in the USA and Europe—only have questions that are standard in the practice of a profession. Never do you encounter questions about things whose answers are totally based on opinion or so subject to variables and qualifications.

Licensure exams are one of the obstacles that an aspiring professional needs to hurdle before he or she gets to enjoy the title, and with good reason: it gives us the right to practice our profession with confidence and dignity. At the same time, it assures and protects the people who will receive our services from harm that comes from mediocrity and incompetence.

Is it too much to expect the people who make the licensure exams to choose questions that will do justice to all the hard work and preparation of the examinees?

Prof. Rene Tadle, president of the faculty of the UST College of Nursing, said:

“These stupid and crazy questions show that there is an urgent need to make the process of preparing and including questions in the board exam. At present, unlike the bar exams, it is not allowed to distribute and make public the questions used in a finished exam. As a result, the stakeholders never know whether the questions are reasonable and valid. Transparency is necessary if only to ensure that examiners take absolute care in crafting the questions that are fair to the examinees.”

Many examinees have also reported seeing a lot of misspellings and grammatical errors in the examination.

The observations of Dr. Angeles are very well said. How can an examinee expect to pass if one particular question can be answered in different ways and yet the examiner has his/her own answer which is not even accurate. Its really about time that competent examiners be tapped to formulate reasonable questions.Get rid of the likes of Madeja!!!@

Im not for a RETAKE but these observations were true. I agree with you & if those who have pushed for a retake instead of focusing on the leakage & competency of the passers focused on these very thing before the results were published, you could have gotten the votes of all the examinees!

But instead, you have insulted a batch of very knowledgeable passers, "much more competent than their mentors" for most of these passers are seasoned with experiences from life itself.

It takes more than mere school education to pass this exam. You must have in you life experiences & common sense,that bookish students lack.

Clearly, passing the kind of exam as observed by Dr. Angeles makes one really INTELLIGENT in all aspect. :-)

11:59 poster. incompetent nga mga tanong, tapos sasabihin mo magagaling? ndi ko maintindihan... ndi ho si madeja ung nagquestions nun. si letty kuan!

can somebody help me understand who wrote the NLE questions? I find the questions really stupid! Nurses ba ang gumawa nito? If I took the exam right after college, I would have failed too, the questions are ridiculous! you don't find this kind of thinking sa NCLEXRN??? this is very insulting for those who take the exams! I can't beleive that we study our buns off for 4 years, and take this crazy exam. Kaya pala merong nag cheat sa exam na ito kasi ang bobo ng mga tanong? is it really Bobo, or just plain stupid? I am so glad I didn't have to go through this crap. ano ba yan? I think they should do something about this....maraming magagaling na new grad nurses sa Philippines,( like me, hihihihi ) kaya lang ang tatanga ng gumawa nung exam! ewan! this is really ridiculous!!!!

11:59 poster. Read your comment, you are contradicting yourself. If you are really more competent that you mentors, then I pity your school!

Dr. Angeles is right, the only logical explanation that i could come up on why the board of nurses made the opinionated question in the first place is for them to really be able to sell their leakage to the review center, since if they make question that are based from the nursing textbook, they know that no one will buy their leakage...since the examinees would be able to answer them.

so, parang they make the question looked stupid para di magets ng matatalinong estudyantes? so para makabenta sila ng cheatsheets? ang baba naman! mukang pera!

hello as if...kachurvahan lng ni letty kuwan iyan....dpat sa BAR exam nlng yan.....

Hello nurses may leak ako sa mga stupid questions ni letty g.'s explanation why a boy's cry is different from the girls...."The boy's cry is interspaced or intermittent because boys have only one accessory muscle for breathing which is the abdominal muscle. Girls' cry is continuous because they have 2 accessory muscles for breathing, the mammary muscles and the diaphragm muscles".........gets nyo? Let us thank God for the wisdom of our saintly nurse....SISTER LETTY KUWAN...

another stupid question from letty kuwan which was included in the december 2005.....What is the best way to prevent early deafness in the elderly? ANSWER: LISTENING TO CLASSICAL OR INSTRUMENTAL RELIGIOUS MUSIC......self explanatory...this is how our Santa Santita Letty Kuwan thinks...ibang level ang brain waves nya...di kaya ng powers natin...alien yata siya....from planet KUWAN.....

uy wag nyong bastusin ang mga questions ni sis letty kuwan... gradwayt yan ng prestihiyosong UP college of nursing... sisterette sya ni dean tuazon... hehe!

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