Chapter 4


1. List five different types of writing you will need to undertake as a nursing student?

Answer: Essay writing, reflective writing, care planning, critical incident reporting/analysis, presentation notes, clinical reports, written interdisciplinary documentation, personal statement on application form for first job, case studies, service improvement project/report, research critique

2. Which of these types of writing should be written in the first person, which require a more objective, removed tone and which require elements of both?


Informal/first-person: reflective writing, personal statement on application form for first job

Formal/removed: care planning, clinical reports, written interdisciplinary documentation, case studies, service improvement project/report, research critique

Both: Essay writing, critical incident reporting/analysis, presentation notes

3. What activities can you undertake when preparing to write a written assignment?

Answer: Read and understand the assessment guidelines

Consider how you can best meet the aims and objectives of the work in light of the experiences you may have had in practice and any other guidance provided

Reflect on any feedback that you may have received from previous assessments

Source appropriate evidence to support your work

Read around the subject and reflect on the care of patients you have cared for with similar nursing problems to help identify key areas to be explored

Write a plan, considering both the time-frame and word limit

4. How many quotations should be used in a 3000 word written assignment?

Answer: As few as possible

5. Where are the most important places in an essay to use reflective writing?

Answer: In the introduction to explain your personal rationale for choosing to focus on a particular topic or patient

In the main body by using practice-based examples to illustrate theoretical application

In the conclusion to summarise what you have personally learned from studying this particular topic or patient

6. What should a good introduction to any written work contain?

Answer: The aim or purpose of the piece

An outline of the characteristics and circumstances of any person used as a case study within the work, along with their clinical presentation and context of care

An introduction and explanation of any theoretical model, concept or framework that is going to underpin the assignment

Definitions of any key terms that will be used

Recognition of any ethical issues, including consent from, and confidentiality of, your patient

An outline of the structure of your assignment

7. What is signposting?

Answer: This refers to summarising distinct features of what you are about to say or what you have just said and drawing attention to how they relate to each other, the whole assignment aim or the next section of work.

8. What is critical analysis?

Answer: Critical analysis is the ability to show in your writing how the evidence you have considered and evaluated in preparing for your written work has informed or challenged your understanding of the issues under discussion and can (or cannot) be applied to the nursing care of a given individual/patient group.

9. What is synthesis?

Answer: Explaining how you have compared and contrasted different strands of literature to BUILD your understanding of your patient and their care.

10. Why is it important to avoid strong expressions such as ‘proof’ ‘should’ or ‘must’?

Answer: Research is unlikely to be conclusive, it is much more likely to provides ‘some evidence,’ ‘strong evidence’ or even ‘convincing evidence’.  Words such as ‘must’, ‘should’, ‘ought’ suggest little flexibility in either care decisions or patient experience.

11. Why is it important to proof-read your work before submission?

Answer: To identify and correct typographic errors, long convoluted sentences, ill-defined terms, lack of logical flow and poor written expression. 

12. What is the difference between formative and summative assessments?

Answer: Formative assessments are those that give you and your teachers feedback on your progress. Summative assessments are those that have to be passed in order for you progress on the course and complete it successfully.  

13. What can you do in a written examination to make the best use of your time and knowledge?

Answer: Spend the first few minutes reading the entire paper carefully, making any decisions about which questions to answer (if there is a choice)

Re-read the questions you are going to attempt, underlining any key words and phrases in the question (including terms such as ‘discuss,’ ‘list,’ ‘outline,’ critically analyse,’ and so on)

For each question you are going to attempt, jot down the main points that you plan to cover.  This is the bit that you will feel you don’t have time to do, but it will pay dividends, because you will then be able to write your answers more fluently.

Leave a gap after each of your answers, so that you can go back later (if time allows) to add more.  This is particularly important if you know that you left your original answer incomplete.

Manage your time.  Many students find that they ‘run out of time’ during an exam.  Keep a close eye on the time to manage it effectively.

It is likely that the examination ‘rubric’ (instructions at the beginning of the exam paper) indicates how much time you should spend on each question or section.  Even if they don’t, the allocation of available marks (25% for one question, say, and 50% for another) will give you a pretty good idea of how you should allocate the available time.

If you find that you are running out of time, make sure that you write something on each question, rather than leaving one or more questions completely unanswered.

14. What does ‘OSCE’ stand for?

Answer: ‘OSCE’ stands for ‘Objective Structured Clinical Examination.’  

15. What might constitute a mitigating factor, a circumstance that adversely affects your progress on the course?

Answer: Physical or mental illness (of yourself or a close relative), bereavement.