Five Studying Tips for Success for the New Nursing Students

The immense amount of information presented in nursing school can easily overwhelm. Learn to better navigate through your classes, manage your time through studying smarter, and set yourself up for success with these five simple study tips. Nursing Students General Students HowTo

Five Studying Tips for Success for the New Nursing Students

To say that the first semester of nursing school is overwhelming would be an incredible understatement. Between being assigned to read 20 textbook chapters a week, skills checkoffs, and your first clinical shifts (not to mention, care plans!), studying can become a pretty daunting task. Throughout my first semester of nursing school, I developed a study method that helped me to not only maximize my time, but to minimize stress and achieve grades I was proud of.

Learn How To Study Smarter-not Harder

STEP 1 Determine your learning style.

We are all unique and, that being said, your professor's 250-slide PowerPoint presentation might not necessarily solidify complex disease processes for you. The VARK assessment is a great tool to help pinpoint what kind of learner you are. With this information, you can formulate a more effective study method to ensure you're not wasting your time. The VARK Questionnaire is a relatively brief assessment which classifies your optimal learning conditions into visual, aural, reading/writing, kinesthetic, and multimodal. This tool can provide the new nursing student with direction for their studying, and by incorporating various modalities, students can optimize their learning and success.

STEP 2 Create your own notes.

Nursing lectures are notorious for being complex and, oftentimes, too much so. Trying to retain too much information is only going to overwhelm you. Whittle down your lecture notes to the "meat and bones"--the core concepts. For example, when looking at a disease process, oftentimes if you understand WHAT is taking place physiologically, you can deduce the typical associated signs and symptoms as well as treatment modalities. Aim to UNDERSTAND, not memorize! "Memory dumping" after a test, which often goes hand-in-hand with cramming, will only hurt you in the long run. View your nursing classes in perspective with your ultimate goal: passing the NCLEX and becoming a nurse. Your courses are working to equip you with the knowledge you need to become a safely practicing nurse. If you commit the time and energy to truly learning the information presented to you while in school, you will be well prepared for licensure examination upon graduation!

STEP 3 Adequately plan to maximize preparedness.

Allowing yourself a few days to prepare for a major test isn't going to cut it. Start studying immediately following your lectures to ensure new concepts stay fresh in your mind. Review your notes against the information presented to you in class and determine concepts you do not feel comfortable with so you can focus more of your attention on them prior to testing time. Another great tool to ensure organization is a study calendar. Determining the number of days you have to prepare and the amount of information you need to learn can help you to divide up concepts into more digestible portions.

STEP 4 Keep it cumulative!

Just because you feel like you understand a certain topic doesn't mean you can simply set that information aside. Continue to review this information while you're learning new concepts to make sure you don't lose it!

STEP 5 Do as many practice NCLEX-style questions as possible!

Check out books from your school's library, rent them online, or invest in purchasing; rest assured that there will be future nursing students who will be eager to take them off of your hands in the future! Not only will this help you apply the new concepts that you're learning, but it will also give you a good indicator of where you are in your NCLEX preparedness. Davis and Saunders make great comprehensive NCLEX review/Q&A books and the Success series makes subject-specific Q&A books so that you can have relevant questions corresponding to each concept you are learning (and being tested on) in class. One of the most valuable aspects of practice questions comes in reviewing rationales for both correct and incorrect answers. Not only does this allow you to refresh your memory on the topic at hand, but it can also correct (or confirm) your process of reasoning behind choosing your answer.

If I could provide you with one last tip, it would be to remember to enjoy the ride. Cherish the friendships that you make and remember to take time for yourself. Always remember your WHY and allow that to fuel your passion and propel you into this incredible, rewarding career!

Graduated magna cum laude. Currently working as a critical care nurse of two years, presently in an aggressive cardiothoracic intensive care unit.

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Your recommendation about practice questions is very good. I've been doing that in school, and it has been very helpful! í ½í± [thumbs up]