Nursing schoolwork can be incredibly overwhelming. Here are 10 tips to help you successfully study in nursing school.

1. Get organized.

During the first week of the semester, take some time to organize your school calendar with important dates. This will help you stay on top of your assignments each week and ensure that you will never be blindsided by an assignment or quiz that you didn’t know was due. Doing this will also help you plan out when you need to start studying for each exam.

2. Take detailed notes in class.

Always take detailed notes when you are in class. I cannot stress this enough. Often professors will emphasize topics that will be covered on the test, so listen carefully. If your professor has provided you with the PowerPoint slides before class, think of them as outlines for the exam. Your job is to fill in the details as your professor is talking.

Tip: If you are having a bad day, maybe you’re tired or not feeling well, record the lecture and then listen to it at another time. 

3. Make time to study every day.

It is important to make time to study every single day. Set a specific time to study each day and stick to it. Getting behind in a class in nursing school can be a disaster. Your class material can quickly become overwhelming if you procrastinate. Instead of letting this happen, just take it one day at a time.

4. You cannot memorize everything.

It will be nearly impossible for you to memorize everything that you need to know for your next exam. Nursing school is loaded with concepts that need to be understood and applied to questions. Memorization will only get you so far in school. If you really want to excel in your classes, it is important that you fully understand the material.

5. Know your learning style.

Everyone learns and studies differently. It is crucial to know what your learning style is in order to be successful in nursing school. Some people learn best while reading the book, while others find this unhelpful. If you do not know what your learning style is, think of a time when you got a really good grade an exam, and try to remember how you studied for it.

6. Take scheduled breaks.

It is important to take breaks when you are studying so that your time spent studying will be productive. Try using the 30-5 rule. This means that for every 30 minutes that you spend studying, take a 5-minute break. You do not have to take a break every 30 minutes, but don’t go longer than 90 minutes without giving your brain a chance to relax and refresh.

7. Mix it up.

Chances are that you will be spending a lot of time looking over your class material. Mix up your study methods in order to see the material from a different angle. If you are just flipping through your notes, then you may get to the exam and find that you don’t know the material as well you thought you did. This is because you are not challenging your brain to view the concepts in a different way. Try re-writing your notes, making flash cards, or even drawing pictures that will help you remember the information.

8. Form a small study group.

Forming a study group can be beneficial in many ways. The group can be used to discuss difficult concepts, swap notes that you might have missed in class, and quiz each other before an exam. Not all study groups are productive, so be sure to choose who is in your group carefully. It may not be the best idea to pick your closest friends, because you may spend more time socializing than studying. Keep the group small with 3-4 people.

9. Be flexible.

It may take some time to find a study method that works for you. If you try something new and it doesn’t end up working for you, that’s completely okay! Think about why it didn’t work. Maybe it was because you didn’t give it enough time to be successful? Or maybe it was just not the right way for you to study. Be flexible and keep trying different study methods until you find the perfect mix that helps you get the grades that you want.

10. Get plenty of sleep.

This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but the amount of sleep you get each night can dramatically affect your memory, ability to be productive, and your performance on exams. Your hard work studying will be wasted if you are not resting your brain for at least 7-8 hours each night. Make sleep a priority and you will be pleased by the results you see in your schoolwork.

Sarah Cruzan

Sarah Cruzan is a BSN nursing student at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. She has a previous BA from Ohio State University in anthropology. She is passionate about women's health and hopes to get a job on a labor and delivery unit one day.

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