1. Be aware that nursing school is one of the most unfair experiences there is out there in this world. You will be at the mercy of nursing professors and clinical instructors whose word is pretty much law if you want to pass the course. You will be overburdened with work. You will be frustrated with having to do lots of little things that seem mundane and pointless to you but will matter in the long run (trust me on this). You will have to meet standards that are raised higher than what you're used to...you know how the 80 used to be a B? Not anymore--most schools have it as a C and minimum passing grade, so be prepared for your GPA to take a hit. Can't understand why anything less than a 100% on a drug dosage calculation test is a failure? Because dosage calc errors can kill patients, and there's no "retest" when that happens.
Not saying I agree with all of this, but it is what it is. So better you start accepting this now.
2. Read the textbook. Seriously.
3. Study daily. Seriously. Even just 30 minutes a day will go a lot further than waiting until the last minute and then trying to cram a few weeks' worth of work into 1-2 nights.
4. Remember that nursing school exams and the NCLEX do not test on "real world" nursing. Instead it's "ivory tower" nursing...you know, that perfect little world where you have only one patient to care for, all the time in the world, all the resources you need at your fingertips, and patients respond fairly predictably to your interventions. That world doesn't exist once you pass the NCLEX. But the NCLEX tests on it, so keep that in mind.
5. Don't read too much into test questions. If you find yourself asking "But what if..." as you look at a test question, you're reading too much into the test question.
6. Never change a test answer. More often than not, you will change it from right to wrong.
7. There may be several "right" answers to a test question--your mission is to pick the "best" one of them.
8. "Select all that apply" (SATA) test questions are the bane of all evil. Especially once you discover that SATA questions don't always have to have more than one answer. If you really see only one correct answer for a SATA, then it may only have one answer. Don't try to force two answers just because you can.
And the most important piece of advice I can give you is:
9. Sometimes the blue box is blue.
Let me explain.
Nursing school is going to teach you the art of critical thinking. Lovely skill, vital to success in nursing and really handy outside of it as well.
Unfortunately, critical thinking can tend to cause a test-taker to overanalyze situations, to read into the situation things that aren't there, and to try to address problems that the test question may not be concerned with. Sometimes you need to accept the test question for what it is, to take it at face value.
For example, if a test question states that the patient is on O2 at 2L/min but doesn't elaborate, take that for what it is: the patient is on O2 at 2L/min. Don't assume that they're currently having dyspnea or pneumonia, or that they have a history of COPD. Just accept that they are on O2 at 2L/min and you don't know exactly why (or that the "why" may not pertinent right now), and see what the question is asking.
Best of luck with nursing school.