NHS Drug Factory

What is The NHS Drug Calculation Test for Nurses? – Explained

Last Updated on February 7, 2022

Drug calculation tests are used for medical professionals such as nurses, midwives and paramedics. The tests assess these medical professionals at all stages in their career, whether to assess new potential employees or for practising medics to work on and improve their skills.

If you are about to take an NHS Drug Calculation Test for nurses and you don’t know what to expect, read on. We will explain what is involved in the drug calculations test so that you can be fully prepared. We will also show you how Job Test Prep can help you prepare!

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What is the NHS Drug Calculation Test for nurses?

The test measures a nurse’s ability to use the mental arithmetic needed when calculating and administering doses of drugs to patients.

The responsibility of giving medicines to patients is, of course, enormous. Therefore you must be able to make the necessary calculations accurately and efficiently. You will need to calculate doses, formulas, volume and weights, and you may even have to translate different types of measurements or work out dosage schedules.

The test is usually in paper format. You will not be allowed to have a calculator, which is all the more reason you need to be accurate. You should show your working out on the paper provided.

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What does the NHS drug calculation test entail?

An example of a drug calculation question could be:

  • If a patient is prescribed 100mg of Tramadol 3 times daily, how many tablets are required in each dose and in each 24-hour period?
  • If 375mg of Augmentin is prescribed three times a day, what is the total amount in grams to be given in a day?
  • A person has 1.5mg of Ropinirole split into three doses each day. How many mg are in each dose?

In some areas, you will be given the answers in a multiple-choice format for you to choose from. In others, you may need to simply answer and show your workings. The concepts, skills needed, and evaluations of each test format are identical.

What skills do I need for a drug calculation test?

  • Basic Maths function: You will need to make calculations efficiently and accurately. There will be times when you will be working under pressure, so you must be able to think logically and calmly even in stressful situations.
  • High-level mental arithmetic ability: During your career, it is unlikely that you will be able to take the time to write down every calculation that you are required to do. Therefore, it is essential that you be able to solve calculations mentally with the same level of accuracy.
  • Understanding of dosage formulas: These formulas will be provided in your test situation, but you must understand how they function and when to use which formula. You will be assessed with regard to infusion rates and concentration percentages and will need to possess the Maths skills needed to do this.

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How can I prepare for my drug calculation test?

The best way to prepare for any test is to familiarise yourself with the format and question types that you will encounter. Using the resources provided by Job Test Prep will enable you to sharpen your mental arithmetic and general mathematical skills by undertaking a range of practice questions.

As with any test preparation, it is always advisable to practise under test conditions, adhering to any time limits or guidelines.

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In summary

A career in medicine can be hugely rewarding, but it carries with it a high level of responsibility — some of the decisions you make can literally mean life or death.

Making sure your maths skills are sharp can help to ensure that you give your patients the very best care and that they remain safe in that care. You are likely to encounter these drug calculation tests at several points in your career so it is important to remain alert.

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Written by Karen Stanley

​​Karen is a former teacher of 20 years and ten times published author. She writes content for educational organisations and businesses, nationally and internationally. She coaches new and budding writers through to publication and is passionate about creativity; she runs creative writing workshops in schools and fostering agencies.

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