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Study habits


Ok, I am trying to get into the nursing program but I need some new study skills. What can you guys suggest doing that maybe has helped you become a better student?

queserasera, RN

Has 5 years experience.

So my finals are over, I got all A's and since I have some free time I'll be happy to lay some knowledge on you. Sit down, brew some tea, this is long, but I am so willing to share major knowledge on this subject because if someone hadn't told me I'd still have a sad gpa and feel overwhelmed, constantly.

First of all, Evaluate your study needs each term.

Evaluate how you've done in similar courses in previous years. List your classes from most challenging to easiest based on how you've done in those subjects in the past. For me math is always at the top of that list. I know I need to dedicate more time to that to do well in it. When you get your course syllabus make note of what is graded and the weight of those grades (is attendance and participation 50% of your grade? Or is your grade made of tests only?) You'll want to focus your attention to the highest weight, i.e. always speak up in class or study or ace all of the tests. Always know if supplemental instruction is offered for each course, what your instructors office hours are, and where that office is. Office hours are there for a reason and I have to say once I realized this, especially for chemistry, I used them often. My instructor enjoyed the company and was a HUGE aid to my successfulness in the course.

Find out how much studying you’re doing now

I know we’re at the end of the semester but think back and evaluate how many hours a week you studied, did you feel like it was enough? Write down how much you studied and if you think realistically if you could have been studying more or less is subjects. A good rule of thumb that I use is 2 hours a week for each credit hour. (3 hour lecture, study for 6 hours through out the week, but read on because I have a trick to sneak in studying.) Also figure out your “Time Suckers”, do you find yourself on facebook for hours or reading articles on Quora, measure this as if it were a study time so you can limit it in a later part of this little mini article I’m writing you!

Make a schedule based on your needs and what you want to do.

This is lengthy too but bear with me, this is the meat and 'taters of what I'm telling you. Take a schedule, (A sheet with 7 columns for days of the week, and rows for every hour that your typically awake. Say 9 am to 10pm) first write your classes and lab times down, these are #1. If you work, record your schedule. If you commute, record your travel time. Record meal times if you have regular ones. Record any regularly scheduled personal commitments, like dinner with mom on Sunday, book club or band practice. Record any special things you want to do through out the week.

Now stop and look over your schedule sheet, this is the time you now have available to study and take care of class assignments.

Here’s the actual study tricks

On this handy little schedule you’ve just made yourself you’ve got paper gold. A schedule of your life, now to add in the studying.


Before each class schedule a preview of 5-30 minutes. (If you have 3 classes in a row (class a, class b, class c) study In order c,b,a) During the preview your goal is to check the syllabus to see what’s going on in that class, review notes and textbook in accordance from the last class, and review your written assignments and problems. Make sure to proofread any assignments your turning in too as a last accuracy check (I can’t tell you how many last minute mistakes I find in stuff!)

2.) Lecture

Having done your “preview” you’re now ready for your lecture. Listen, make notes, ask questions, recite and discuss. Always get involved in your lecture if you can. Even if no one else is talking. The biggest growth I’ve had as a student is not caring what other people thought of me. I don’t care if I’m the “obnoxious girl that asks all the questions”. Fact is, at the end of a lecture I’m walking away with the pieces of the puzzle that I was missing. The other great thing about the preview is if there is an impromptu quiz, you’ll be ready


I know, I know, reviewing too? But I just previewed! But this is a “sneaking in study” trick. After every class I review what I went over in lecture. I will re write notes even, it seems a little extraneous at first, but by re-writing my notes, or going over everything that just happened I’m cementing it in my head. I edit/summarize everything that was just covered, It’s great too if you can do this with another student, I’ve found I get more out of two peoples summary than just mine. I also will plan my class assignments as to time, duration, and mode of learning while the details are still fresh in my head (i.e start outlining a paper).

4.) Study

Lastly, study! I study the night before each class. So if I have 2 lectures on a Monday I study for about an hour and a half just those two subjects. I use a study-reading method technique called SQ3R (The SQ3R Reading Method) that is awesome for reading through textbooks. I write down questions and personal reactions to the text for discussion in the next lecture.

The neat thing about doing it this way is, say you have a bio lecture 3x a week and a bio lab. By previewing, reviewing and studying you’re learning biology 16 times a week (4 previews, 4 lectures, 4 reviews, 4 study times) Instead of the traditional 8 times (4 lectures, 4 study periods). Cramming before a major test is replaced by previews and reviews. I also like to add in a weekly review of everything I learned the previous week on Friday nights, because I don’t have a life outside of school right now.

Extra Tip

Persist in managing your study time!

If you add/drop a class, change work hours, or develop a new hobby revise your schedule. Do get discouraged if you don’t make every preview/review, it’s inevitable that other commitments may get in the way, but monitor if they’re always getting In the way, they may be one of those time suckers I talked about. Whenever your grades go down, or you fall behind in your class assignments also re evaluate what you’re spending your time on.

I really hope this helps you and that it wasn't way too long. I swear by everything I wrote and have had tremendous success adapting this method. Good luck in your studies!

Chelsea13, thanks so much! I really appreciate the study tips. I loved your idea of making a plan on paper and writing down study times. I have heard this before but I have not done it. I will try this and thanks again!

I just finished this past semester of pre-reqs and currently hold a 4.0 GPA. I'm going into Spring semester with the mindset that I plan to keep my 4.0 intact, as I will be applying for my program next semester. Here is what I did and what works for me. Results may vary.

Read, read, and then read the book some more. Then, work the practice problems in the book, or the ones in the study guide, depending on the class.

Re-write all of my notes from class. Re-writing helped me solidify the information.

Read out loud. I read to my dog a lot, she looks at me goofy (lol) but reading out loud also helps.

Record your lectures, if allowed, and re-listen to them while in the car, laying in bed, jogging, whatever works for you. Sometimes re-hearing the information helps.

Break your studying into 'blocks'. Which means start studying a week ahead of time, not a day ahead of time, and study in small increments. One of my professor's told me this the first week of class. She said study for a couple hours, and then don't feel guilty about turning on some mind-numbing tv for an hour. I used to cram, meaning I'd study 5-6 hours at a time, only to struggle on some exams. Then I started studying for an hour or two at a time, then I'd watch some tv, then another hour or two, then I'd take the dog for a walk, then another hour or two, then I'd cook dinner. I'd do this daily for a week leading up to the test, studying for an hour or two, and then doing something else before going back to studying. Small increments. And I aced exams, because I retained the information much better as opposed to cramming, or forcing myself into intense and long study sessions.

Make flashcards if your class uses a lot of terms, such as the science classes. For me, flashcards are the greatest thing since Netflix, lol.

Color/draw/doodle, that's what I did for science classes in the past. I drew diagrams, colored them in, labeled them, whatever works.

I am a visual learner, but I try to employ all methods of learning, such as visual (drawing, labeling, coloring), and auditory (re-listening to lectures I record, or talking out loud).

Most importantly, hang out with your professor! And what I mean by that is, find out their office hours, and USE THEM. By mid-semester, I was on a first-name basis with a couple of my professors, and they pretty much knew like clock-work when I'd be stopping by. I always went to them with my notes from that week, and a list of questions that I needed a little explaining on after I had did all of my studying on my own. Don't go to them expecting them to do the work for you. Go to them after YOU do all of the work, and need clarification on anything specific. My professors seen that I busted butt in my classes, my grades reflected how hard I worked, and were eager and ready to help me anytime I showed up on their doorstep.

If your school has a tutoring lab, USE IT. I practically lived at mine.

Let no excuse stop you, and never find an excuse to use on why it can't be done. I've dealt with difficult professors, I have learning problems, things that were easy for students came at greater difficulty for me. Classmates who would spend all night hanging with friends (at their own admission) instead of studying would whine when they received D's and F's, while I earned A's. They would laugh and ask how did I manage that, oh it must be so easy for you, they'd say. What they didn't know is, I would get out of class at 3pm, only to go sit in the tutoring lab for another 3 hours everyday, and then go home to study some more.

A's are possible, they just take dedication and work to get there.

Thanks x_factor. You both have both gave good advice. I plan on spending time in my professors office next semester. I just dont know what things to ask because I feel like their going to be like didnt we cover this in lecture?

queserasera, RN

Has 5 years experience.

Thanks x_factor. You both have both gave good advice. I plan on spending time in my professors office next semester. I just dont know what things to ask because I feel like their going to be like didnt we cover this in lecture?

Well, of course they cover things in lecture, but have you ever used the cornell note taking system?


I use this system and I like it because I have all my questions in the cue column. This was I can not only fold my notes page over and quiz myself without making extra note cards, but I also have a list of professor ready questions to ask. In your lecture, if you're confused by something mark it with a special coloured questions highlighter and this way you have material ready to go over when you visit your prof!

Chelsea 13, I havent used that method of note taking. My teachers usually have us print out their lecture notes so we have notes there already in front of us. Should I put those aside and be taking my own notes on another notepad? And then use this method of note taking?


Specializes in None.

OP- Glad you created this thread! I, too could use some advice.

Chelsea 13- Your post helped me very much, I can't thank you enough. I also created a schedule as you mentioned & I feel that is going to help me starting in the spring. Thank you again for giving your input.

Edited by havehope

queserasera, RN

Has 5 years experience.

Havehope- glad I could help not only OP but other students looking for effective study habits! This method has been really great for me!

Havehope, Im glad it is not just me. Honestly I have got 3 C's and I have 2 classes left to take and I cant keep studying the way I have been because I need both A's in those two classes. Thanks everyone that has gave good advice!

One thing that I have learned in my studies is that it's good to organize your weekly studying in advance, usually on a Saturday or a Sunday. I try to keep Fridays as free days in my course schedule, although they're usually taken up by volunteer hours. Also, if you can, try to discern what times during the day you feel most comfortable studying. For instance, I used to believe that I studied best at night; I eventually learned that this was not the case and that I feel more confident about retaining information if I study during the afternoon.


Has 2 years experience.

I agree with Chelsea13, especially about making a schedule. Use a planner too and wriye out specific study hours. You are more likely to study if have times written out.

About how long do you guys study for? Like for Micro, what was your usual studying time?


Has 2 years experience.

I took micro this past spring. I was studying about 1.5 hours a day. It's less than I've studied for a & p, but it was still time consuming.

I took micro in the past, I studied for about an hour a day on it, over the course of many days. I always tried to stay well ahead on studying to avoid being forced to cram for any exams or quizzes.

Thanks for the awesome ideas. I will definitely use them in the future.


Has 2 years experience.

It was okay. Interesting but tedious. I enjoyed a & p a lot more because I find the human body more interesting.