Don’t Strike Out: Hitting a Grand Slam With Item Writing

Don’t Strike Out: Hitting a Grand Slam With Item Writing

This presentation will provide an overview of how to write traditional multiple-choice items, priority items, and alternate-format items included on the NCLEX examination. It will include a discussion of the NCLEX detailed test plan and the use of NCLEX-style terminology. Various priority-setting frameworks in item writing will also be explored. The participants will develop items with the assistance of ATI Nursing Education Specialists. This presentation will provide participants with the strategies for success when writing items for their own assessments.

Session Objectives
Following this session, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the NCLEX detailed test plan
  • Discuss the various types of items included on the NCLEX exam
  • Use strategies to construct NCLEX-style items that assess a student’s critical thinking skills.


Mendy McMichael

Mendy Gearhart McMichael, RN, CCCE, MSN, DNP, earned her Bachelor and Master of Science in Nursing from Jacksonville State University (JSU) and Doctor of Nursing Practice in Public Health from the University of Tennessee, She has attained more than 27 years of nursing experience, including serving on the nursing faculty of JSU. She has taught in both baccalaureate and STEP (RN-to-BSN) programs. During her tenure in nursing education, Dr. McMichael taught in the classroom and in the clinical arena, as well as online courses. She began her career as a staff nurse in Labor and Delivery at Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center (NEARMC) and, from there, went on to the Lurleen B. Wallace College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Jacksonville State University. She was also staff nurse in birth suites at St. Vincent’s and nurse manager of Obstetrics and Pediatrics at NEARMC. In addition, Dr. McMichael served as the interim Director of Education at NEARMC and as a consultant for Harris, Cleckler, Hollis & Shamblin, LLC, Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the March of Dimes, and as an NCLEX EXCEL instructor for Drexel University. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau and has received multiple Faculty Research Awards at JSU. She currently is on the breastfeeding and the NAS task force at NEARMC. Dr. McMichael has presented multiple oral presentations at local, state, regional, national, and international levels. She is a Nursing Educator Specialist and former Virtual Instructor at ATI. She continues to work part-time as a staff nurse in a newborn nursery, lactation, and as a certified childbirth educator. In her role at ATI, she provides direction for the curricular content of all prelicensure RN and PN assessments and remedial products. Nursing education is her passion and love! She believes that ATI products assist in making dreams come true!

Terri Lemon

Terri Lemon, DNP, MSN, RN, joined the Nursing Education Specialists team at ATI in 2014. Dr. Lemon has been a nurse for 23 years. She worked clinically as a critical care nurse in a high-acuity unit at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, Miss., for 10 years. During this time, she recovered immediate post-op CABG patients, managed critically ill neuro patients, and discovered her academic calling in caring for patients with multiple organ disorder syndrome. Prior to leaving the clinical area full-time, Dr. Lemon participated in the education preparation of nurses new to the ICU by teaching in the Critical Care Orientation Program. After obtaining her Master’s Degree in Nursing, Dr. Lemon began her formal teaching career. She spent the next nine years teaching in both BSN and ADN programs. Her area of specialty included Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, and Critical Care AMS courses. She also developed a beginner EKG course for student nurses. In addition, during this time, she taught students in the clinical area, with special emphasis in cardiac and ICU rotations. Dr. Lemon obtained her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in 2012. Her experience working as a high-acuity nurse has provided her a background for item writing for ATI in various areas, such as AMS, pharmacology, fundamentals, and nutrition. Along with online and proctored item writing, Dr. Lemon has contributed to ATI’s PN and RN Review Modules, Continuing Education materials, and currently serves as a member of ATI’s Inquiry Team that ensures the accuracy and validity of all ATI products.

Marsha Barlow