For me the toughest part was the pace and volume. Try to chunk out your reading and split it over several days. In some classes, it's impossible to get all the reading done. Focus on the lecture then supplement with the reading if you can't get thru it all. Two schools I have attended supply ATI books, that's the organization that does predictor tests for nclex. We ended up taking one or more predictor tests each semester. These ATI books are separate from our class texts but gave concise info that highlights the important stuff for each topic. You may have 30-80 page chapters on each topic in your text, but the ATI books will overview that info in a few pages. It won't exactly match your text but it will be closer to the material in your nclex exam.
Other tips...I found the more vocal students sometimes end up being disliked by instructors. Be careful not to irritate an instructor. It can haunt you as they often talk amongst themselves and which can multiply the problem.
I always wrote and rearranged my notes from class, powerpoints, and reading, into a Word document using bullets, tables, etc sometimes shading with color. This helped me recall as I could visualize better.
Learn ways to use association for memorizing, especially helpful in pharm. Silly meaningless labels, associations, mnemonics really help when it comes time to recall. "Red man in the van with a kidney" sticks with me for vancomycin, which can cause red man syndrome, and is rough on the kidneys.
On the critical thinking...some schools think either you have it or not, others think it can be taught, but it's difficult to teach. Use tools for prioritizing when answering test questions, like ABCs (airway breathing circulation often but not always are the priority), maslows hierarchy, safety, and knowing your pathophys, and reasoning through all the variables presented help you to arrive at the best answer. Eliminate the incorrect ones, then "go with what you know" on the remainders, being careful to not read into the questions or answers. Compare each answer to the question separately, not to each other. Treat the multiple choice like four true/ false questions paying attention to distractors and phrases like "patient needs more education if" or "patient demonstrates understanding when" phrases that can trip you up.
STAY AHEAD of the material. It's difficult to catch up if you get behind! Use nurse tutors, retention specialists if your school has them, and other students for assistance. You got this!