How to get an "A" in any course.

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    Whether you're a seasoned pre-nursing student or just starting out these easy to follow steps can launch you into academic success. Take a new approach to your daily routine, make time for yourself and never fall behind in a class again. These study tips can be applied to any learning styles and fit into just about any life style as well. Get honest with yourself and plan to succeed!

    It’s that time again, the prerequisite and nursing school boards will be filling with new fall students. The most common questions I see are usually people feeling worried about some of the “harder” classes associated with the prerequisite and nursing curriculums. I find that it was never a subject that had me stumped, but more so, how I approached a subject. I went years trying to figure out what worked for me. I found some things worked in certain courses and failed miserably in other. (i.e. What do you mean I can't use flashcards for everything?!) Reading other peoples study tips have always helped me figure out my own study flow, so I want to give you my tried and true take on how to do well in anything. Of course, your attitude is important, I've wrote about this before. So make sure you're positive, regardless of your studying approach. Okay, okay, on to the good stuff.

    1. Evaluate your study needs for the upcoming semester.

    Evaluate how you've done in similar courses in previous years. List your classes from most challenging to easiest based on how you've done in those subjects in the past. For me math is always at the top of that list. I know I need to dedicate more time to working math problems that I do writing a paper.

    2. The syllabus, it's a blueprint for success!

    When you get your syllabus make note of what is graded and the weight. Is attendance and participation 50% of your grade? Or is your grade made of tests only? You’ll want to focus your attention to the highest weight, i.e. always speak up in class or study and ace the tests. Always know if supplemental instruction is offered for each course, what your instructors office hours are and where that office is. Office hours are there for a reason use them often. Even if it’s to ask something you could find out from a class mate. Ask the instructor, besides, remember letters of recommendation are easier from professors to write if they know who you are!

    3. Have you been putting in the time?

    Evaluate how many hours a week you've studied in the past, did you ever get to a exam and groan that you should've studied more? Write down how much you studied and honestly evaluate if it was enough. A good rule of thumb for pre-reqs in 2 hours study time to 1 hour class time. 3 hours worth of lecture, study for 6 hours throughout the week. “Whoa, that's too much” read on, I've got tricks up my sleeve.

    4. Time suckers.

    Figure out your “Time Suckers”, do you find yourself on facebook for hours or reading articles on Quora, measure this as if it were a study time so you can limit it in a later part

    5. Make a schedule based on your academic and personal needs.

    This is how I do it.. Take a schedule ( a sheet with 7 columns of days of the week and rows for every hour that your typically awake say 9am to 10pm) first write your classes and lab times down, these are #1. If you work record your schedule, if you commute record your travel time, record meal times if you have regular ones. Record any regularly scheduled personal commitments, dinner with mom on Sunday, date nights, taking the kids places. Lastly, add in your time suckers. If you know you'll get sucked into a 4 hour Netflix session on a saturday... write it down. We will leave NOTHING unaccounted for friends! Record any special things you want to do throughout the week, even if it’s just coffee with a pal. 
Look over your schedule sheet, this is the time you now have available to study and take care of class assignments. 

On this handy little schedule you've just made yourself you've got paper gold. A schedule of your life, now to add in the studying.


    Before each class schedule a preview of 5-30 minutes. (If you have 3 classes in a row (class a, class b, class c) study In order c,b,a) During the preview your goal is to check the syllabus to see what’s going on in that class, review notes and textbook in accordance from the last class, and review your written assignments and problems. Make sure to proofread any assignments your turning in too as a last accuracy check (I can’t tell you how many last minute mistakes I find in stuff!)


    Having done your “preview” you’re now ready for your lecture. Listen, make notes, ask questions, recite and discuss. Always get involved in your lecture if you can. Even if no one else is talking. The biggest growth I've had as a student is not caring what other people thought of me. I don't care if I’m the “obnoxious girl that asks all the questions”. Fact is, at the end of a lecture I’m walking away with the pieces of the puzzle that I was missing. The other great thing about the preview is if there is an impromptu quiz, you'll be ready


    I know, I know, reviewing too? But I just previewed! But this is a “sneaking in study” trick. After every class I review what I went over in lecture. It may seem silly to review the same day, but but going over the material again, despite how well you THINK you know it, I promise you more things will stick into your long term memory. I’m a visual learner so I summarize/ make a story out of the notes I just took in class. If you’re auditory, I’d suggest listening to your lecture via a recorder, or going to a lab if you’re tactile.


    Lastly, study! I study the night before each class. So if I have 2 lectures on a Monday I study for about an hour and a half just those two subjects. I use a study-reading method technique called SQ3R ( that is awesome for reading through textbooks. I write down questions and personal reactions to the text for discussion in the next lecture. The neat thing about doing it this way is, say you have a bio lecture 3x a week and a bio lab. By previewing, reviewing and studying you're learning biology 16 times a week (4 previews, 4 lectures, 4 reviews, 4 study times) Instead of the traditional 8 times (4 lectures, 4 study periods). Cramming before a major test is replaced by quick previews and reviews. I also like to add in a weekly review of everything I learned the previous week on Friday nights, school is my job and I am taking it seriously enough to miss out on Friday happy hour with the buddies.

    Extra Credit: 
Persist in managing your study time!

    If you add/drop a class, change work hours, or develop a new hobby revise your schedule. Don't get discouraged if you don’t make every preview/review, it's inevitable that other commitments may get in the way, but monitor if they’re always getting In the way, they may be one of those time suckers I talked about. Whenever your grades go down, or you fall behind in your class assignments also re evaluate what you’re spending your time on. I hope you all have an incredibly successful semester and continue to give your all to this crazy path we’re taking together!
    Last edit by Joe V on Aug 2, '13
    Jules92, dolfanjenny, ImDoingIt, and 69 others like this.

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  2. About queserasera

    From 'Mid-Atlantic'; Joined Apr '12; Posts: 705; Likes: 540.

    Read more articles from queserasera

    52 Comments so far...

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    These are excellent tips. I'm horrible at time management and balancing work and school has been a challenge. I look forward to putting some of these suggestions into practice. Thank you!!
    missamber227 likes this.
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    Great article! I do a lot of the same things! Including scheduling everything. My google calendar is a pretty intense looking rainbow right now! lol I'm making the transition from FT worker/PT student to FT student/PT worker, plus kids. I made sure to even schedule in large blocks of study time on campus to ensure I have hours of peace and not being interrupted by kids to focus on reviewing and studying. Good luck in the next semester everyone!

    I'll add a PS on math-type classes. The best way I found to study was to go through reviews where I had correct answers, and copy the worksheets and just keep re-working the problems until I got them without any issues. This worked really well for Chemistry and O-Chem as well (the structures, and identifying them).
    heatherlpn2b, crushlush, lorirn2b, and 2 others like this.
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    The most important thing I have learned, and been told by professors, is to come to class! You won't believe how many students skip out on class and lose EASY points. Some of the points were easy quizzes based on the readings and homework. One of my classmates asked what I got my test (this was a very basic math course). I got a 96 and he got a 68. He said he didn't know why he wasn't doing well in the class. Geeze, maybe it is because you miss a bunch of classes (and quiz points too!) and when you DO show up, you are forty-five minutes to an hour late. At one point, I thought he dropped out of the class, but then he showed up for the final....thirty minutes late.

    So really, guys, attendance is VERY important. If nothing else, go to lecture and pay attention! I consider going to class part of "studying" as well as learning and make it a point to NEVER miss a class. In addition, always meet up with the professor if you have any questions. Better to get those issues sorted NOW than the day of the test!
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    I love this! My biggest problem is always the scheduling and spending too much time on one thing. I'll be coming back to remember these points in a few weeks when school starts again!
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    Chelsea! Very good advice! Honestly, my favorite part was when you said you're biggest growth was not caring what others thought about you & you didn't care if you were the obnoxious girl in class asking questions. I'm so jealous & would really like to get over that stupid fear. I mean, why should I care what others think? I'm trying to understand the material & get all As!
    nifty_n, heatherlpn2b, SeattleJess, and 5 others like this.
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    And I didn't even know about the website quora. Thanks. Thanks for that.
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    Quote from Mandy0728
    Chelsea! Very good advice! Honestly, my favorite part was when you said you're biggest growth was not caring what others thought about you & you didn't care if you were the obnoxious girl in class asking questions. I'm so jealous & would really like to get over that stupid fear. I mean, why should I care what others think? I'm trying to understand the material & get all As!
    It honestly developed for me after my public speaking class. Once you get over your fear of sounding "dumb" you'll realize you'll probably actually spark other students to speak up and ask questions. At the very least I can almost guarantee that one other students sigh in relief that you asked that question because they had no idea and were also afraid to speak up! One of my professors laughed and said I was the only one getting my moneys worth out of my dev. psych course because of all the questions, but I walked away with one of the highest grades of the class!
    SeattleJess, heatherlpn2b, lorirn2b, and 2 others like this.
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    Great article!
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    Hi Chelsea13,

    Thank you for your post! For my nursing program we have teacher written study guides pertaining to each unit/lecture; in your opinion would you recommend completing the study guides prior to the lectures?

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