STUDY strategies

  1. I'm in my 4th week of NS. We had our first test last week. I'm still trying to get a grip on how to STUDY. I don't need "test taking strategies"... I've had tons and tons of that and I get all of that. My problem is adjusting how to STUDY differently. I had a 4.0 GPA coming in, but as I knew already, this is not the same as studying for an A&P exam. I feel like I just keep reading the lecture notes over and over and over... and it is doing me NO good at all. (reading notes has never worked as a study habit for me) I just can't figure out how to study for application. ::sigh::

    Any advice?
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   dana204
    I understand how you feel. I am in 3rd semester and I am finally at a point that I have some idea of how to study. It takes awhile to find what works for you. In my first semester, I had a workbook that went with my theory book. It was a lot of writing, but it helped. My instructor even suggested we use it. I used it as an assignment for each chapter.

    If you do not have a workbook, then I suggest writing notes in a way that makes sense to you. Or you can find books that complement your theory book. I love the Reviews and Rationales books by Hogan. They cut it down to the stuff you need to know and give you lots of practice questions. Practice questions are a great way to go to see what you need to look over. And, most of the time, the rationales will help you understand it better. You can find them on Amazon, used and new.

    I do know that reading something over and over will not help you in applying the information. Memorizing only helps with normals.

    My school suggested we read "You are smarter than what you think!" and find our learning style. I did that and tweaked it a bit to fit. It does help.

    Bottom line with nursing school is that you have to understand why you are doing something.

    I wish you the best of luck and congratulations!:spin:

    Dana
  4. by   beth66335
    One tip my Foundation teacher told us to try was to formulate a possible question from your notes," What could the teacher ask me about this?" Set up situation and critical thinking questions based on your notes that a teacher might put on the test. Sometimes seeing the test from the teachers point of view helps. Best case you won't just be reading your notes over and over, or staring at them! lol
  5. by   Daytonite
    all the nclex review books have the test taking strategy in them. this is the strategy for how to answer application or critical thinking questions. if you can't afford to buy one of these books, try to find one in the library or get another student to bring theirs in so you can look at it. the test taking strategy is usually in the first part of the book. basically, it is that you must:
    • know and consider normal anatomy and physiology
    • know and consider abnormal anatomy for the disease in question
    • know and consider the resulting signs and symptoms when the disease occurs and how they proceed from mild to fatal - each sign and symptom can be related back to the pathophysiology of the disease
    • know and consider how the doctor diagnoses and treats the disease in question
    • know nursing interventions for the signs and symptoms you are being asked about
    • know the steps of the nursing process and what goes on in each of the steps and consider how they are affecting the question you are being asked
    • know and consider the principles behind the actions being done - there are many kinds of principles: principles of nursing, principles of biology, principles of chemistry, principles of physics, etc.
    • read the stem of the question carefully and answer that because the test makers try to trip you up by distracting you with conflicting information they give you in the answer choices that sounds good but has no relationship to what the question is asking for
    • ask yourself "why" a patient is experiencing some sign or symptoms to get at the underlying problem. nursing like other disciplines treats the problem/signs and symptoms.
    i've been an rn for a long time and answer these critical thinking questions for fun. i can see the strategy to answering them much more easily than a student can because i have 32 years of nursing behind me. so, what i've posted for you is the wisdom i have learned over my years of practice. you can also find this strategy in chapter 5 of saunders comprehensive review for the nclex-rn examination, 3rd edition, by linda anne silvestri.
    Last edit by Daytonite on Oct 27, '07
  6. by   KEL2BanRN
    Daytonite, I appreciate your post. But again, I already have a grasp on test-taking strategies. I use my Saunders NCLEX study cd religiously. I do all of the practice questions in my text. I'm not struggling with critical thinking tests/questions... it's just that I can't figure out how to study for the tests themselves. And since it's just the 4th week of school, most of those things you listed haven't really come into play yet.

    I guess I just don't know how to explain my problem. ::sigh::
  7. by   KEL2BanRN
    Beth, thanks. So far, that's the only other thing I've found to do - to try to make up questions that they could possibly ask regarding the material. I'll continue to work on that.
  8. by   LilDKessler
    In NS I always highlighted notes in my book, then typed them in outline format & read over & over & over the notes I had typed. However, for A&P this did not work for me. Instead, I bought an A&P coloring book & actually colored the pictures. Somehow coloring them helped me remember the different areas & what they were called. I also took handouts the instructor gave us, made a copy then blanked out the names of the items. I made several copies of this blank version & tested myself over & over again on being able to label the parts.
    Thankfully I have a extremely supportive hubby who was great at quizzing me almost nightly. He would take my class notes & ask me questions from them until I got it right. Good luck & I hope this helps!
  9. by   Daytonite
    Quote from KEL2BanRN
    Daytonite, I appreciate your post. But again, I already have a grasp on test-taking strategies. I use my Saunders NCLEX study cd religiously. I do all of the practice questions in my text. I'm not struggling with critical thinking tests/questions... it's just that I can't figure out how to study for the tests themselves. And since it's just the 4th week of school, most of those things you listed haven't really come into play yet.

    I guess I just don't know how to explain my problem. ::sigh::
    Have you had a test yet? It sounds like what you are doing is trying to psych out what is going to be on the test. That's like playing poker and reading "tells". It probably helps to just sit and talk with other students out loud and throw around ideas about what you will be tested over. The experts say we pick up more by speaking it out than we do by reading it. I can give you a couple of websites with all kinds of study methods on it. I post them all the time. Learning and memorizing is just technique. But cementing the information in is more efficient when you either teach it to someone or speak about it. Even if you don't have a study group or want to participate in one, pretend to be a teacher teaching this information to the walls at home and speak it out, organize your own little lectures on it. This will help you remember and understand it. It might spark off some questions of your own that will send you back to your textbooks. Part of the problem here is that this is all brand new information you've never been exposed to before so you don't know which is important, real important, and critically important to know. Speaking with an experienced nurse would help. Unfortunately, time and experience are going to help you out, but you don't have the luxury of time in a classroom situation. And, there's always the instructor factor. Instructors will sometimes ask questions about things that directly affected them during their own practice. There's no way to know what those things are unless they openly talk about them in lectures or in conversations with you.
  10. by   KEL2BanRN
    Quote from Daytonite
    Have you had a test yet? It sounds like what you are doing is trying to psych out what is going to be on the test. That's like playing poker and reading "tells". It probably helps to just sit and talk with other students out loud and throw around ideas about what you will be tested over. The experts say we pick up more by speaking it out than we do by reading it. I can give you a couple of websites with all kinds of study methods on it. I post them all the time. Learning and memorizing is just technique. But cementing the information in is more efficient when you either teach it to someone or speak about it. Even if you don't have a study group or want to participate in one, pretend to be a teacher teaching this information to the walls at home and speak it out, organize your own little lectures on it. This will help you remember and understand it. It might spark off some questions of your own that will send you back to your textbooks. Part of the problem here is that this is all brand new information you've never been exposed to before so you don't know which is important, real important, and critically important to know. Speaking with an experienced nurse would help. Unfortunately, time and experience are going to help you out, but you don't have the luxury of time in a classroom situation. And, there's always the instructor factor. Instructors will sometimes ask questions about things that directly affected them during their own practice. There's no way to know what those things are unless they openly talk about them in lectures or in conversations with you.

    Yes, we had our first test a couple weeks ago. We have our second one on the 23rd. I do "get" the information in my notes. I study with a friend often and we've been trying to bounce "made up" questions off of each other a little... it's hard to come up with them, but we're trying. I spoke with one of my instructors today and that's pretty much what her advice was - to try to make up questions from the lecture notes (application/CT questions). She said it's great that we know the norms, but to try to ask ourselves "what would I do if so-and-so were to happen" (out of the norm). So, I'm going to try it that way and I'll see how I do on the next test. Thanks everyone for the replies. I have to get used to getting lower grades, I suppose.
  11. by   Esther2007
    Quote from KEL2BanRN
    Daytonite, I appreciate your post. But again, I already have a grasp on test-taking strategies. I use my Saunders NCLEX study cd religiously. I do all of the practice questions in my text. I'm not struggling with critical thinking tests/questions... it's just that I can't figure out how to study for the tests themselves. And since it's just the 4th week of school, most of those things you listed haven't really come into play yet.

    I guess I just don't know how to explain my problem. ::sigh::
    If you are doing saunders nclex study cd, you should know what to focus on when you study. If the information is on the nclex, therefore, it is important.

    This is how I study:

    *Record the lectures

    *Listen to the lecture the next day with the powerpoint, to make sure I did not miss anything

    *Read the book along with the powerpoint, I usually add my own notes to the powerpoint

    *I do nclex questions in the area that I just read, I keep a score. If I do not do well on the nclex questions, I keep reading and trying to understand rather than memorizing. Once I understand, I will remember it forever. I focus in one area at a time. I use nclex 3500, saunders and lippincott. I am on my third semester and doing well. Good luck to you.
  12. by   KEL2BanRN
    Quote from Esther2007
    If you are doing saunders nclex study cd, you should know what to focus on when you study. If the information is on the nclex, therefore, it is important.

    This is how I study:

    *Record the lectures

    *Listen to the lecture the next day with the powerpoint, to make sure I did not miss anything

    *Read the book along with the powerpoint, I usually add my own notes to the powerpoint

    *I do nclex questions in the area that I just read, I keep a score. If I do not do well on the nclex questions, I keep reading and trying to understand rather than memorizing. Once I understand, I will remember it forever. I focus in one area at a time. I use nclex 3500, saunders and lippincott. I am on my third semester and doing well. Good luck to you.
    Thanks, Esther. Maybe I'll try to customize my studying more this way. It's been a bit harder in the beginning to use the Saunders NCLEX questions that way because it's been so general, such as history of nursing, etc. But now that we're getting a little deeper I probably can try it.
  13. by   Jamie2887
    Heres my advice, you said you throw questions at your friend...Just once try this approach, Our lectures are called "modules" So we may be tested on Module A,B,C, and D this week, dont know if thats how yours is set up. Each of you take 1 or 2 lectures, and when you get together, teach it to the other person, pretend they have NO idea what is going to be covered, and just teach them like your teacher taught you. My first tests i scored a high C and a high B without doing this method, then I wanted to change the way I study, so I sat down with my Grandmother (who was more than willing to listen all about Health Assessment for hours) and taught her all my lectures from my notes, and voila! I made a 96 on the final...so I do think this helps.
  14. by   MB37
    This is my study method, and I've got a semester and a half of NS As under my belt:
    1. Read the material before class. I highlight as I go. If I fail to read all of if before one class, I make myself finish that afternoon. I really try not to get behind.

    2. Print out powerpoints/outline if available, and take good notes either on this or in my notebook as appropriate. I take my in-class notes by hand, because this forces me to type them up later, and I get more review in.

    3. I record every lecture, and usually play them back when I type up my notes. Our classes are team taught, and a couple of professors I only usually need to listen to once, but I still record them in case I get to a spot in my notes that isn't clear. I type all my class notes in kind of an outline form, since I actually hate powerpoints and don't like to study from them. Depending on the class, the professor, and the topic, I might supplement with additional info/clarification from the textbook, especially if that part of the lecture wasn't clear to me. I try to do this not the same day as the lecture, but within a few days so the material is still fresh.

    4. In some classes, we've been given some type of topical outline, study guide, review questions, or objectives that should be "areas of focus" on our exam. I pull relevant info to answer all of these, and retype it all again. At this point, I really know the material - I learn through all these steps involved in creating my "study guide," not from studying it.

    5. Whatever time I have left before the exam, I spend doing NCLEX questions, review questions from the chapter, questions from the study guide that accompanies the textbook, questions from the textbook website, etc. I'm allowed to look up answers that I don't know, since I usually remember whatever I've looked up if it shows again on an exam.

    I also listen to the instructor. It's part of why I record lectures. Some of them will actually tell you what or how to study, and I follow their advice. Others seem to emphasize certain topics, maybe just with the tone of their voice, that tend to show up on the exam. You might be able to learn what to listen for.

    Try to understand the whys of what you're learning. That's what NCLEX-style questions test, is reasoning and application with the assumption that you know the basic material. You also really need to find out what works for YOU. Some people in my class swear by notecards, and claim to do well, but I quit making them after my first NS test - they weren't useful to me like they were in A&P - except in pharm, where I went back and made drug cards when I realized that those do come in handy.

    Hope some of that was helpful! It's what I do, and while time-consuming, it works well for me.

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