Ineffective study patterns r/t nursing school

  1. Hi everyone. I am about to go into 3rd semester nsg and I still have yet to find a great way to study and learn the material effectively. I just finished my 202 final today....I got an 88 (B) and I got a B for the semester, not bad, BUT I still feel like I don't know how to study and take notes well. I don't wait until the last minute, yet there I am scrambling every time. I have the recorder, the handouts, the book and my own notebook. By the time I get to study I have hours of notes to put together which usually takes me a good 2-3 days of mind numbing, carpel tunnel causing (insert bad word here ) note taking. Ok, so what I'd like to know is....what's the secret? How do I pass the tests without the cramping, blindness and delerium? How do you study and learn the material? Do you make up stories, songs, only read the text etc...? I need some help because this is causing major problems in my life....for instance....feeling like I don't have one! Help....I feel like I'm drowning and need some great advice.
    Thanks in advance!
    Last edit by SoulShine75 on Dec 12, '06
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   RN BSN 2009
    I think we have the same diagnosis........
  4. by   Daytonite
    I don't know what to tell you. I'm sure you've seen many of the links I post for students on this subject. What I can tell you is that when I'm looking at some of the critical thinking questions, my years of experience are a big help. What I have seen patients experience over the years as they go through the various phases of their diseases, I think, plays a big part in understanding part of the critical thinking that is going on. You have to realize that you are being expected to put a number of elements together:
    • normal anatomy/physiology/chemistry
    • disease process
    • expected medical treatment
    • patient's problems and complaints
    • knowledge of the nursing process
    • nursing interventions
    • priority of your actions
    That's a lot to juggle at one time. All I can suggest is that you develop for yourself some sort of concept map (or flow diagram) as to how this should all fit together and be able to very simply recreate it on a piece of paper when you have an exam in front on you. That way, when you get those application questions, you can "map" your way, hopefully, to the right answer.

    In the end, tests are created by humans, so there is always going to be error. Grades can be so important, especially to pass through to the next classes. But also, if you are thinking of moving on to a higher degree, your GPA becomes important. So, I understand your frustration. I'm having the same problem with my medical coding classes. I'm right on the border of an "A/B" and I just can't get those last few points I need to make it into the "A" group. It's frustrating because I have experience doing medical coding work and where I lose points is on very miniscule things that are new to me. Unlike, nursing, however, grades are not as important since coders only need to pass national certification tests and grades from school aren't even considered.
  5. by   SoulShine75
    Quote from Daytonite
    I don't know what to tell you. I'm sure you've seen many of the links I post for students on this subject. What I can tell you is that when I'm looking at some of the critical thinking questions, my years of experience are a big help. What I have seen patients experience over the years as they go through the various phases of their diseases, I think, plays a big part in understanding part of the critical thinking that is going on. You have to realize that you are being expected to put a number of elements together:
    • normal anatomy/physiology/chemistry
    • disease process
    • expected medical treatment
    • patient's problems and complaints
    • knowledge of the nursing process
    • nursing interventions
    • priority of your actions
    That's a lot to juggle at one time. All I can suggest is that you develop for yourself some sort of concept map (or flow diagram) as to how this should all fit together and be able to very simply recreate it on a piece of paper when you have an exam in front on you. That way, when you get those application questions, you can "map" your way, hopefully, to the right answer.

    In the end, tests are created by humans, so there is always going to be error. Grades can be so important, especially to pass through to the next classes. But also, if you are thinking of moving on to a higher degree, your GPA becomes important. So, I understand your frustration. I'm having the same problem with my medical coding classes. I'm right on the border of an "A/B" and I just can't get those last few points I need to make it into the "A" group. It's frustrating because I have experience doing medical coding work and where I lose points is on very miniscule things that are new to me. Unlike, nursing, however, grades are not as important since coders only need to pass national certification tests and grades from school aren't even considered.
    thank you for the response. I just need to find some way to simplify my note taking and organize things better. My grades are fine, but it takes a lot of work to just get a B and I had a 4.0 going into nursing. I need to find a way to study and take notes and stick to it every time.
  6. by   psychonaut
    I find making my own "quizzes" to be the most helpful, with "fill-in-the-blank" and "short answer" type responses (i.e. recall knowledge, NOT recognition knowledge). My best results have come from making an outline (with blanks) for each day's notes, to stay caught up.

    Now, in honesty, I haven't been using these techniques much recently (finishing up second semester); just too easy to get decent grades, and too lazy to bust my butt for perfect grades. I'm telling myself I'm going to go all out for third (of 4) semester (M/S, psych, and research) just for the sake of it. We'll see how long my resolve lasts.

    But yeah, back to the original point: one thing agreed upon in just about any psych of learning is that repetition and challenge are two keys towards memorization and mastery of material (along with goodies like mneumonics, rewards, etc).

    Good luck!
  7. by   Lori RN_09_2b
    I understand your frustration. What's worked for me is finding a great study buddy. One of the girls in my program is very much like me--motivated, grade-obsessed, willing to work hard to do well. We study on our own, but the day or so before a big test we'll meet and quiz each other--sometimes for hours. It's amazing how often she'll understand something I don't, and vice versa. And together we're able to come up with silly ways of remembering info, and it's amazing how much I can recall when the tests come around. I don't do well in study groups--way too frustrating--but a one-on-one is perfect for me. Maybe there's someone in your program that would work out.

    Good luck!
  8. by   sweetielin
    when i started nursing school, i was making passing grades but they were in the low to mid 80s. i was pretty upset about it being that i was in the national honor society and never even had to study in high school. now here i was studying for hours on end and barely passing. i talked to my aunt about it and she gave me some good advice. she said i was trying too hard. i just needed to lighten up. so from there i changed my strategy. i would study no more than an hour at a time without a 15 minute break to get up stretch my legs, let my mind wander when i couldn't concentrate. i made up my mind that i wouldn't worry over taking the test. this really helped me. i made a 100 on my first a & p test. i started being the first or one of the first to turn in my tests and making as. not that being the first one finished is so important. just showed that i wasn't stressing so much anymore. my teacher had said that we shouldn't change our answers unless we were sure it was wrong. that turned out to be true most of the time. as for my actual studying methods, i usually read the chapter a couple of days before the test. the night before i went through and wrote the important things from the chapter. sometimes, we would get together at someone's house and have a study group. we went throught the chapter calling out questions for each other to answer. i think part of the answer is to relax and feel confident that you will do good. different study methods help different people. what is good for one person may not be good for you. just try different ones and find which one works. a little stress can be beneficial but remember that not stressing out completely is just as important as studying. good luck!
  9. by   luv2yoga
    Instead of just trying to memorize or learn only what the prof presented, I now try to truly understand the topic. I use additional sources, I bought the Reviews and Rationales books for each class and the HESI book and CD. This has really helped me step up to the plate this semester (3rd of 4), it just got much more difficult as we were required to synthesize the material. There were no pure memorization questions on our tests AT ALL. Of 48 students who started Med-Surg II, 15 of us finished. I got an A. Kind of incredible.
  10. by   NaomieRN
    Soulshine, in the above post, you said you had a 4.0 going into nursing. What did you do to achieve the 4.0? can you try to do the same thing you did then?

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