Right way to study?

  1. HI
    I have a big test coming up it covers muskeloskelatal, pain, death and dying,sleep.
    Last test I failed so I have to do great on this one. Last test I studied my heart out.
    I am reading over my notes and going back to the book when I am not sure of an idea or to elaborate on something but I am not sure if memorization is the way to go. That is what I did last time I memorized my notes. That is how I got and A in my college classes but I am not sure if it is the way to go in nursing school. The questions they ask are usually not definition type questions so memorizing everything does not really help right?
    As long as you know the subject and understand the ideas and meanings that should help with the test right?
    I do not know anymore I am just very worried but I am trying my best.
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    About adamsmom

    Joined: Jun '04; Posts: 219; Likes: 15


  3. by   RN1263
    once you basically have the info. down, then start doing practice nclex type questions to get you in the frame of mind for critically thinking in that area. they want you to be able to apply the info. you have learned so you are correct in that just memorizing at this point is not enough, do practice questions like i said so you can "apply the info." in situations/senarios
    good luck!
  4. by   Glimmer
    I used to be a straight A student... I could go to lecture and take great notes... do most of my reading and ace every test. Heck I could pretty much quote the teacher word for word when it came down to it. That doesnt work in nursing school though! LOL I learned that with the first test... so I studied even harder for the second... I got an 80%... that hurt. I had never studied so hard in my life. I then realized I was studying wrong. But at the same time I dont think there is a right way to study. Each person has a technique that works for them. Since I figured out mine I have gotten a 88 and 86 on the last two tests. They still arent the best grades but they are passing and they are above class averages.

    This is what has worked for me. I do my reading... although usually not really in depth before class. Our instructors tend to tell you to forget this in the book, dont worry about that, etc and it is hard if you have already started to tuck it away. Esp if they are going to teach you a different way than the book did. So I just kinda skim over it and start working on the vocab words. That was the key to a lot of my studying. Know the vocabulary. You would be surprised how easy it is to rule out answers if you just know how to "translate" them. You have to do more than memorize the words though.. you have to know how they are used.

    Then I go to class and take notes. Our lectures arent the best but I have learned what to look for with my instructors and how they teach. After class I then get out my highlighter and go back through and read the chapter and highlight what was focused on in class. I will sometimes even use two different colors... one for what the power point notes points out and the other for what the instructor stressed. I know both will be on the test but I better dang well know it how it is taught to me above all else.

    Then I break it down into small areas. Like right now we are doing Acid/Base disturbances. So I started with Resp. Acidosis and then started trying to apply it. I use the vocabulary when I apply it. But I look for the s/s of each... know how to recognize it... etc... and use scenerios whenever possible. Knowing in your head that Mr. Smith has _____ (whatever s/s) and therefore you would _______ (nursing implemenation) really does help.

    What it comes down to believe it or not is knowing your nursing process. If you can remember the steps it really will help you walk through each situation.

    I think what you might have working aganist you on your next test is that really your chapters do not have a major tie between them. Sure you could tie some aspects of them but they dont flow well with each other. That does make it a little harder to study. BUT... if you take them one chapter at a time and pace yourself. Cramming at the end wont work on big tests.... and in the end it does nothing for you since most people can not remember the material once the test is handed in.

    The biggest thing with every nursing test I have seen or heard about is being able to think your way through it. Most are tests on logic not necessarily content, IMO... and they are looking for your ability to recognize key items that not necessarily every lay person would Basically.. you have to start slowly reprogramming the way you think. It is hard... but it is odd how it works. It just started to kinda sink in one day. It now drives my family crazy because I can pick out details they overlook in most situations... and of course the use of therapeutic communication is enough to drive some of them bonkers!

    Good luck on your test!!!!! Remember to stay calm (easier said than done) and dont stress out about it (esp right before the test) because it will make you much more likely to make a careless error. You either know it or you dont... and if you dont then you know what you need to work on. YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!
  5. by   Jolie
    I found this method to be most effective:

    ASAP after class, I would go home and recopy my notes. Doing so immediately allowed me to "solidify" the information in my mind, clarify uncertain points by referring back to the text, and take note of what I needed to discuss with the instructor.

    Prior to the test, I would recopy them again as a means of studying. I guess I need to "see" information in writing to comprehend it. Simply reading my notes and/or the text was never enough for me to "get" the information.

    When there was a list of things to learn such as the cranial nerves, or the steps in the nursing process, I made flash cards. I graduated with 3 sets of notes on everything, and flash cards out the wazoo. I wonder how many trees I personally killed in my quest for a nursing education, but it was very effective for me.

    Good luck!
  6. by   Daytonite
    i am going to say that you are starting out correctly. you have to learn the facts. and, if memorization of your notes is the way you do that, then that is what you need to do. however, from the last nursing test(s) you took you also know that learning the facts isn't enough. nursing tests generally have what are called "application" questions on them. they are trying to test your critical thinking skills. they are trying to see if you can determine a best action to take when you are given a situation and left on your own to figure out what is the most important thing to do next. this requires processing a number of things in your mind.
    • facts
    • knowledge of a medical disease (signs and symptoms)
    • complications of medical diseases
    • knowledge of how a medical disease is treated
    • complications of the medical care that can occur
    • nursing process (the 5 steps)
    • priority
    that's a lot to consider for one problem on a test out of, what, 50 questions? basically, you end up doing a mini-care planning for each application problem. as much as students hate writing care plans, it has to be understood that the written care plan is nothing more than the physical documentation of the thinking process that should be going on in our minds every time we are presented with a patient problem. our thinking process is just faster than our pens (or, computer keyboards). many of these problems boil down to what point in the nursing process you are at, so you need to know those five steps: assessment, the problem identification along with formulation of goals and outcomes, planning the care which includes determining nursing interventions, implementation and evaluation. and, remember, it re-cycles, so if some nursing intervention hasn't worked you go back through the steps of the nursing process again and re-work them to come up with a new plan of action.

    then, the part that trips most people up on tests is that sometimes the best answer is not one of your answer choices. instructors play around with your minds by taking that wonderful logical processing and throwing a monkey wrench in it. your mission, student nurses, is to figure out how that monkey wrench has now messed up the logical process and get back on the road to the logical conclusion. that is where your knowledge of the nursing process helps. you have to mentally ask yourself, "if i already did this, then what would the next logical step be?", or, "what are all the complications of this drug and is this problem the patient is having a side effect of the drug?" and look for the answers that way. do you see what i am getting at. you are not only having to know the new information for your tests, but also all the other information that came before it.

    many students find using a book with practice nclex questions in it helpful in learning to think this way. it might help you to make a list of the things i just put above this and see if it doesn't work to lead you to the correct answers on the problems you got wrong on previous tests to show you that this is the way to get to the right answers. and, then memorize the process. i guarantee you that as a practicing professional nurse you will need to master this thinking skill in order to be successful in a career an rn. you will learn it by barely passing tests in school or by trial and error on the job.

    here is a current thread you should check out that addresses this very similar thing:
  7. by   jov
    Quote from adamsmom
    I have a big test coming up
    stick with it and you will get it
    on my first tests, I could not pick any of the four answers. they all looked just as good to me.
    Now I am in third semester and scoring 52/50 on my Med-Surg tests. Plus when patients ask me question like why do I have to have a PICC line, I find I really do have the answers in my head.

    don't be too hard on yourself, try to roll with the punches as first
    you are learning critical thinking

    but you will get it!
  8. by   Megsd
    I am not a good memorizer and I am not good at learning by reading. What I do is take notes in class, read the book for clarification or if there's something the instructor wants me to know from the book (my profs this quarter don't test from the book much). Then I rewrite all my notes the week before the test or so. If I write it, I remember it. If I don't have time to handwrite it, I try to type it out, though this doesn't work as well for me at all.

    Then what I do is sit with my notes and cover up everything but the subject heading and verbally, out loud (which drives my roommate nuts) recite everything I know on that subject. Then I uncover my notes and checkmark things I remembered to say and circle things I forgot to say so I can review those later. That way I'm not excessively reviewing stuff I already know, and I don't get confused about what I already know and what I don't.

    Another thing I try to do, since I don't memorize, is try and figure out WHY something is so. If I can understand the pathogenesis behind a disease, the S/S make sense. If I can understand what S/S are present, and which ones are most important, I can figure out my nursing interventions. Sometimes on exams I have to skip back and forth over these steps, so it helps to have a working, rather than memorized, knowledge of the info.
  9. by   Dee2007
    I had so much trouble picking out the right answer out of two, just as you my whole second semester in medsurg. Now I've learned if you know your (APIE) assesment, planning, interventions and evaluation for each situation it's a great plus. I had to repeat the class in second semester because I couldn't take or know how to take the instructors test. It was a great setback but it worked out for the best. She gave me this advise and now it's so much easier. Good luck and let me know if it helps. :spin:

  10. by   toph
    Hi you must study smart not hard. My friend at yahoo answers linked me to this web at it really helps a lot.
    Just visit this web if you wish to read the tips... http://studysmart-gonz.blogspot.com/...udy-smart.html
  11. by   carolinapooh
    Here's what used to nail me - I'd overlook the very first thing the instructor wanted us to say we'd do. I'd be thinking, "Well, I already did THAT" - when the instructor of course has no way of knowing if I did or not. I'd picture myself walking into the room and looking at the patient for whatever reason - and then invariably my answer would be the SECOND thing you'd do instead of what the test was looking for - which was the FIRST.

    After about ten of those, I got the point.

    So always, always, always ASSESS first - and if that's one of the answers, that's probably the right one! I'd pass that (yeah, I've done THAT) and go on to step two, which was not what the instructor was looking for.
  12. by   MissGwen
    The other day I was at the bookstore and came across this book: "Mosby's Tour Guide to Nursing School: A Student's Road to Survival Kit." This book is a must have! I wish I would have had this when I was working on my psych degree. I am about 50% finished with it and just finished reading the chapters concerning memory and test taking tips today. My plan is to type up the key points I have highlighted when I finish. So, I will type them up here for these chapters and copy and paste them for myself later.

    2 Branches

    1. Short-Term
    Where info goes when we cram.
    Cramming stores too much information.
    We cannot hang on to it.
    Results in a significant loss over time.
    This can be especially bad for taking N-CLEX.

    2. Long-Term
    Info needs to be stored in long-term so we can retrieve it when needed.
    Best to add small, regular amounts of information.

    *Telling yourself that you have a bad memory is giving your brain the ok to forget
    *Be confident.
    *Tell yourself you can have a great memory.
    * Some things you think you have forgotten, you never knew to begin with. An example of this would be when you say you know someone or something and you do not.
    * If you do not grasp information, ask the instructor to clarify,etc.
    *Make sure your information is complete and correct.

    You cannot remember what you do not understand.
    Check your understanding by:
    1. Paraphrasing the information
    2. Think of examples
    3. Combine the information with previous or present experiences so it can be stored for the future.

    Memory Techniques
    1. Visualization
    The book gives the example of imagining yourself paddling along the bloodstream in a canoe. See yourself going through each chamber of the heart, and on and on,etc.

    The more vivid the imagery, the more likely you are to remember the information.

    2. Mnemonics
    Take the first letter of each word in a series,etc. and make a new word, phrase,etc. with it. Example: Roy G Biv for the colors in the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

    Make a sentence using the first letter of every word.

    Listening & Learning
    To store a wealth of information:

    1. Show up
    2. Sit in the front
    3. Participate in class discussions
    4. Ask questions
    5. Look alive!
    6. Arrive with all necessary equipment
    7. Be rested, eager, and fed.
    8. Lean forward
    9. Smile
    10. Make eye contact with your instructor
    11. Concentrate

    *If your instructor is not ideal, you need to separate the information being presented from the presenter.
    *Listen and learn despite what you think of the instructor.

    Take notes.
    Use shorthand.
    Write legibly.

    Review your notes asap after class.
    Take notes on your notes.
    Use margins to summarize.
    Pay attention to broad principles.
    Check to see if you understand relationships.
    Major and minor facts should be separated.
    Form lists that are worth memorizing.
    Look for differences in text and lecture information.
    Write down any questions you may have.

    Reading & Remembering
    The Language
    1. Look up unfamilar words in the glossary of your text and have a medical dictionary on hand.
    2. Learn the language by paying attention to roots, suffixes,etc.

    Getting the Maximum Payoff From Your Reading

    1. Before you begin
    No distractions
    Sit at a desk so you can take notes
    Ask the reason for reading this material
    Go over the chapter objectives
    Skim the chapter or article
    Pay attention to headings, bold type, charts, italicized words,etc.
    Read the summary
    Look at the study questions
    Check course outline, objectives,etc.

    2. While Reading
    Best way to remember what you read is to take notes
    Put notes in your own words so you can understand it
    Reread material you find difficult
    Reading aloud can increase memory recall
    Read to understand, not to memorize
    Use your fingertips to "underline' as you read
    Place question marks in the margin of information you find confusing. Consult your instructor for clarification.

    3. After Reading
    Review your notes
    Scan what you have outlined
    Try to sum the chapter up in your own words
    Attempt to answer study questions
    Storing this information in long-term memory requires a chemical change in your brain.
    No excessive physical or emotional activity immediately after you have finished studying.

    Test taking chapter coming up in a second post!

    Last edit by MissGwen on Apr 20, '09
  13. by   MissGwen
    Now, for the test taking chapter!

    Test Taking

    High-performance students don't worry themselves with how they are doing; they focus on what they are doing.

    If You Panic During an Exam
    Close your eyes
    Take slow and deep breathes
    Talk to yourself positively
    Do the easy questions first as this builds confidence, which enables you to perform to the best of your ability.

    Test Preparation
    Find out all you can about the teacher and the test.
    Gather all the information you can about the exam. Format? Material covered?
    Study an old exam if available. Some profs have copies stored in the library,etc.
    Begin studying for exams 2-3 weeks in advance.
    Study with a partner or group

    24 Hours Pre-test
    Food consumption and exercise on the light side
    Pack all materials you will need for the exam
    Be around pleasant, positive people
    Avoid depressing and annoying situations

    10 Minutes Pre-test
    Get to the test site 10 minutes early
    Sit away from doors, windows, friends, foes, etc.
    Slow & deep breathes
    Give yourself a pep talk

    Test Time
    Carefully listen to oral instructions
    Read written instructions carefully
    Skim the whole test
    If marking on the exam is permitted, write down things you fear you will forget
    Underline key words,etc. in the instructions
    Look for phrases such as "opposite," "only one," or "same as."
    Answer the questions that are easy for you and that you feel confident about first.
    Make sure you are marking the right answer for the right question on the answer sheet.

    Multiple Choice Tips
    Read directions carefully
    Work quickly
    Put a star,etc. next to questions you are not sure about
    Come up with your own answer before you even read the answers given
    Read every answer that is given
    Eliminate answers that are definitely incorrect
    Look for absolutes,etc. Answers containing "always," "never," "all," or "none" are incorrect most of the time.
    Scan all questions before reading a case study.

    True-False Tips
    The longer the statement, the more likely it is true
    Normally, there are more true statements than false statements
    Most statements will be verbatim. If it looks familar, go with your instincts.
    Statements with "all," "only," "always," or "because" are false most of the time.
    In general, statements that contain "none," "usually," or "generally" are usually true.
    Break long or complex statements into small parts
    If one part is false, the whole statement is false.
    Don't change answers. First impressions are usually correct on TF items.

    Short Answer & Fill-In-The-Blank Tips
    Sentence construction and language provide clues
    Length of blank usually indicates the length of the answer
    If you know two possible answers, give both.
    Make an educated guess.
    Do not leave blanks.

    Math Item Tips

    Read questions/problems carefully
    Write down the givens, what you need to find, and formulas you will use
    Estimate the answer before you calculate so you will know if you are close or far off
    Write clearly
    Copy the information correctly
    Check unit of measurements
    If permitted, use a calculator
    Work the problem backwards
    If answers are given in multiple choice form and you have no clue, you can usually eliminate the highest and lowest answers given.

    Essay Tips
    Quickly list the facts,etc. that pop into your head beside the question.
    Time management. 50% outlining and 50% writing answer
    Underline key words in directions
    Organize your essay
    Spelling and grammar check if time permits
    If you run out of time, write, "I ran out of time. Please accept what I have given."

    Questionable/Confusing Item Tips
    Ask the instructor for clarification
    Don't let difficult items distract you.
    Move on to the next item
    Break complicated items into small parts
    If no answer seems correct, choose the most nearly correct answer.
    Give the answer the instructor wants. No criticizing!
    Always guess unless there is a penalty for doing so

    Before You Turn Your Test In
    Make sure your name is on the each sheet,etc.
    Reread directions
    Look at any questions you felt uneasy about.
    If you serioulsy believe an answer should be changed, change it, but no going back and forth.
    Fill in all the blanks
    Use all time available
    Do not give up

    The End!

    I hope this helps! This is a very good book! I highly recommend it~


  14. by   NurseLoveJoy88
    Try the 10-48-7 rule ! This is based on CDC not me. My instructor shared this with us.

    10- stands for 10 minutes
    Study for about 45 minutes take a 10 minute break, after the 10 minute break do some review questions
    48- After two days after the first reading, review the book and notes again.
    ( Remember to still incorporate the 10 minute break)
    7- Review the class readings and notes again.

    CDC also says to not study for more than 2 hours. Our brain can only hold a certain amount of info. at one time.
    Its also best to study in the morning and between 5-7pm in the evening.
    Good luck and happy studying !
    I have a exam tonight so wish me well guys !