How are the people making A's or B's studying?


I took off the semester for medical issues. How are you all studying? Last semester I made barely passing grades. I am trying to get my GPA up next semester. What method did you use for note taking (highlighting, outlines, etc)? What organizational method are you using for binders? Any other organization methods you use to stay on track? Any extra tips at all? I'd greatly appreciate it. I want to go back in and making much better grades :)

NurseOnAMotorcycle, ASN, RN

1 Article; 1,066 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Emergency, CEN. Has 10 years experience.

They are studying by knowing what works for them.

Try going to your school and asking them to help you figure it out. They do it all the time, it shows them you really want to learn, and they can help you pinpoint if you learn best by hearing, doing, seeing (etc) the material and finding what kind of study environment you learn best in.

Good luck!!

pmabraham, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 2,560 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Palliative Care. Has 3 years experience.

Good day:


Actual study techniques vary per particular class. Generally, I try to set up a minimum of two hours per 1 credit with the exceptions of Basic Microbiology and A&P where I spend a lot more time.

For those professors that give out study guides, I take the time to expand the study guide by answering any questions (treat it like homework), creating tables, definitions, comparisons, etc. Then I use the expended study guide as the foundation for study and review; that expanded guide is then adjusted through the study time to add things missed or otherwise make more clear. For example, on a recent Basic Microbiology study guide, the one provided by the professor was two pages with 56 questions (not including sub questions); once expanded, it was thirteen pages.

For those classes that provide PowerPoint slides, I print those out, and use them for note taking. Any area that is unclear or otherwise looks like it might become a test point (i.e. exotoxins vs. endotoxins), typically involve me taking the time to do additional research on 3rd party sites. A related example with A&P is that I use multiple books including Netters Atlas.

For classes with a lab, I typically spend a minimum of two hours per week in the model room in addition to staying for the entire lab time (close to 3 hours per week).

In terms of combining techniques, I record (with permission) all lectures, and listen to the lectures over and over every chance I get with a focus on those classes that are most difficult (mainly micro and a&p).

I rewrite most of my notes, and I do create flash cards with

You do what works, but most of the time it does involve a lot of contact time.

Thank you.

Specializes in Med/surg, Onc.

I agree that it's what works for them. I know that the way I study does NOT work for everyone and people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them I don't read everything (think focused assessments!) I look at the syllabus and look at the requirements for each section and focus on those. No one is going to ask me basic A/P, so if I know it I can skip the review chapters on that. I have an awesome study group that works for all of us. Other people might hate the way our group talks with stream of consciousness of thoughts on each section but it works for us.

I found that once I started realizing what I could focus on it meant I didn't spend my ENTIRE life reading.


15 Posts

I registered my text book online and it gave me access to NCLEX questions and material that wasn't in the book. So, I usually do all the NCLEX in the book, then do all of the NCLEX online.

I always read all of the rationals and look up any answer I do not understand (even in it's the wrong answer, I wanna know what all the vocab is).

Making flash cards works for my classmates and is really cool if you have the free time to do it.


21 Posts

Like everyone else has mentioned, you have to do what works for you. For myself, I rewrite my notes and include definitions, examples and diagrams that help me understand the concept better. I also like explaining concepts to others. If I teach it to someone else and let them ask me questions and am able to answer correctly, it helps to reinforce the material for me. Good luck with your studying :)

Specializes in Hospitalist Medicine. Has 8 years experience.

You need to assess if you're a visual learner, an auditory learner, a kinesthetic learner, etc. By finding the style that works for you, you can narrow down the best study plan for your unique style. For example, I'm a combo auditory & kinesthetic learner. So, what works for me is to read out loud, "teach" the material (whether to a fellow student or even to a blank wall), discuss the material, actually do hands-on activities, etc. Simply studying and memorizing does not work for me. I find that if I can explain what I've learned to another person who knows nothing about nursing, I'm better able to answer critical thinking questions.

There are several websites that you can use to find out what your learning style is. Perhaps you're the type of learner that needs pictures & colors with flash cards. Or perhaps you need to watch everything demonstrated.

Best of luck to you and I hope you find what works for you. Once you do, it really helps to focus your studying so you have a purpose instead of just sheer volume! :)


27 Posts

Specializes in Long Term Care and Dementia / Alzheimers. Has 11 years experience.

I don't know if this will work for you, but I always always make flashcards of the important terms and concepts in pretty much all classes. Then I test myself of both sides, so I know the answer by word or by definition.


789 Posts

I took a college success class at my school. It teaches students how to study, and get the most out of study. It made a real difference in how I study and helped me to complete nursing school.


48 Posts

Learning how to answer critical thinking/application questions can be easy for some but a process for others. The trick is opening your mind to the format and structure of the questions to be able to pick "the best answer" among the options.

NCLEX study books give you sample questions that help considerably but those are tailored primarily to RN graduates who have to pull concepts from multiple semesters to approach answering those questions. That study material will help with format and logical thinking but might not be as semester specific as you'd like.

Some students in my class were able to find test bank questions from other school years or other schools altogether and, I must say after seeing them, those help a ton. They are semester specific and even chapter specific. However, I don't know the legality or ethical nature of this "study material." Some schools might consider this cheating or against their code of conduct.


1,163 Posts

Has 2 years experience.

I am in my first semester of my junior year in a BSN program & am taking 17 credits. When it comes it studying, I read the PowerPoint and put together the concepts. It's not memorization but truly understanding. I then spend a lot of time practicing NCLEX questions on the ATI website or in my test success workbooks. I always read the rationales too. It helps me get into a nurse mindset. I was able to get a B on my first couple NCLEX style exams this way.

I have a binder with dividers for each class. Every binder uses the dividers differently. For my two classes that are exam heavy, they are divided into sections by exams. For one of my theory classes that does not have exams, I divide the binder weekly (15 sections for 15 week semester) so I am still organized.

I also use a master list of assignments which shows everything that is due week by week for all of my classes. It is easier for me to see what is needed to be done that week and also less overwhelming.

I hope this helps!


77 Posts

I won't repeat earlier replies, they all have great advice about learning styles and study options. I would just add that you need to pay attention to the way the individual profs teach. Do they use the publisher test bank questions? Do they test out of the chapters, or off the PowerPoint? Do you need to pay special attention to what they say?

Knowing the particular profs testing style will help you study more efficiently.