Study/note-taking tips

Nursing Students Student Assist


Hello! I am officially a nursing student (actually on 9/4/12) and looking for some study and note-taking tips. I have read a lot of great information on these boards over the years and you all have given some great advice : ) I'm just wondering if anyone has any tried and true methods that work especially well? I will not be working while in school so I will have more time than some. I have a very supportive and helpful husband and three young daughters, so advice from parents would also be helpful. Thanks everyone : )

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

well, no sense in writing down what you already know. The key I believe is reading your assignments then picking out of the lecture the part that makes sense to study. Who can predict that?

For me, flash cards were a waste of time. By the time I was done writing them it was time to take the exam. I don't make drug cards either for the same reason. There's just no time for that kind of stuff! So what I do after we have our lecture or sometimes before is go through the power points while doing ALL of the assigned reading and add any information right there on the paper. That way you have one source to study, you know it's accurate information, and it's right there easy to access.

i've posted this before but i believe is is applicable.

i would call myself a fairly organized person with some ocd tendencies. i think the organizational strategy to use depends on your classes.; however, there are some guidelines every person should use including:

- binders with some sort of divider (use colors if you like)... use the tab dividers to divide up the chapters/systems (i.e. sensory, neurological, cardiac, respiratory, or renal). this is particularly useful when using ppts (note that some ppts in some school have notes written on the bottom of the screen when you open powerpoint and they are usually pretty useful so just look into it!).

- post it notes are good for jotting down quick notes and ideas. i do this all the time for projects and when i have ideas for them and when a teacher asks something in class i did not understand or forgot to ask... i write it down and use for reference later.

- i use binder clips alot (those big black ones) to hold together my files as when i go to school i usually have my file folder, textbook, and maybe a small notebook for some notes (but i usually write directly on my ppts).

- ***one organizational method i found particularly useful is writing in different colors. whatever the teacher says in class i jot down in red pen... notes i write from my textbook and elsewhere is written in blue. sometimes i use green specifically for diagnostic information. you will find that each subject has some time of organization like my medical surgical book: pathophysiology, diagnostic values, treatments, and nursing collaborative care. all subjects will divided up somehow... use that to your advantage.

- highlighters are a given honestly... buy a couple but know that i usually only use yellow and pink for easy visibility while some other colors are a little difficult to see through.

- other than that the rest of your supplies should be textbooks and supplements.

- some people in my class have elected to tape record lectures (of course with teacher permission) and re-listen to them later.

- my clinicals i bought a clipboard for that can hold a couple papers inside (usually sbars, blank care plans, and evaluation drafts) and that is sufficient for my clinical site. some supplementary things to bring to clinical include the clinical companion books that often accompany many textbooks. some things like vital sign ranges, standard/air/droplet/contact precaution facts are useful. i also usually carry some supplies from the hospital itself to my patient's room such as alcohol wipes, gauzes, and my penlight.

that is all i can think of for now. i have more supplies for when i am archiving the class's notes when i finish with them such as including sheet protectors and such but that is for another post.

i've been in my program for a year now and i think that many schools need a little revision on how to prepare students for nursing school.

- you will probably not go out and it will be hard to work. end of story.

- know how to manage your time because there are seriously not enough hours in a day.

- find as many resources as you can for your nursing career (textbooks, online help, online resources, etc) because everything will be useful in one way or another. in this case, also use your teachers to your advantage and students ahead of you in the program (i'm a tutor at my school and we have a plethora of nursing resources that many people do not know even exist).

- know how to be organized in the sense that everything your teacher gives you whether they are ppts or worksheets... i would keep them and organize them in a binder or whatever organizational strategy you use.

- my favorite piece of advice is to try to make your world full of nursing. if i wanted to watch tv i would watch something like grey's anatomy (i would spend half the show looking up stuff and let me tell you it has become useful in class when combining watching with research) and adding nursing news to my reading everyday.

- another important piece of advice is to "choose your friends". even though i may sound a little unorthodox for saying that but you learn best when you're with people of your same level. i've learned this the hard way. it is very difficult to study in groups.

- paying particular attention to class lecture (more or less) is what can make or break your exam grades (since there is so much to cover the teachers tend to tell you what you should focus on).

- another piece of advice i learned the hard way: nursing exams are quintessentially different from any other exam you may have taken in any other college. the goal is application of information. don't just read... know how to apply to real life. remember, when you take the nclex board, you are essentially being tested on how you would act as a nurse in a given setting. the board would not want to pick someone who always chooses to "call the physician" as the answer choice.

Thank you all so much for your advice and tips. I will take them with me to my first day of class : ) I just want to have as many tips as possible going into it and I will filter through and use what works best from there. Thanks!

Specializes in ER, progressive care.

I'm big on writing in different colors and highlighting...I always had a bunch of highlighter colors and "color-coded" my notes by highlighting different sections. I guess I kind of have OCD tendencies as well ;)

It kind of sucks, but rewriting my notes always helped me retain information. Flashcards are useful for certain things (such as learning lab values or for making drug cards) but I would just stick with rewriting notes.

i bring a laptop to class and type everything. we hand write at 30 words a min. i am sure you can type faster than that. lots of people use voice recorders, but i never have time to listen to them. I have some class mates that use a voice recorder and a highighter. they don't take any notes in class. after the class they will listen to the voice recorder and type what was said. \\\

when I take notes I can high light sections, and use different colors. it helps to have an outline already done, so you can listen more than just type. you make friends quickly if you make study guides for your class or share your typed notes.

for pharm, put your drugs onto a spread sheet. class, how it works, side effects, contraindications, nursing teaching. split the work up with your class mates. its really nice to have all of your antibotics on a spread sheet so you can look at the big picture. which does what.

This works for me but I'm not sure if it'll work for everyone....I record my lectures. That way instead of trying to get everything written down, I can really listen. I take notes during the lecture, jotting down little bits of info and then I go home and listen to the lecture again. The second time I listen, I use a different color pen and take more detailed notes. That way I am exposed to the lecture and power points twice. It does take more time but this way really helped me especially in Physiology, Anatomy, and my first level clinical classes. I made A's in pre-reqs and B's in clinical classes. Hope this helps.

Specializes in CCRN, ED, Unit Manager.

not working? kick back and watch some TV. you got it made!

I took a tough graduate-level course with a newborn breastfeeding in class. I recorded the whole lectures. I didn't take much in the way of notes at the time, but I did copy down any diagrams the prof put up on the screen. Then in the evening when the baby's father made his token parenting effort by giving the baby a bath and dressing her for bed, I transcribed the entire lecture (typewriter, pre-computer days), stopping prn to sketch in the diagrams with the applicable text.

At the end of the semester I had a fabulous notebook of the whole course, and despite the fact that my brains continued to flow out of my nipples I got a respectable grade.

For what it's worth, your brain retains what you write with a pen better than what you type on a keyboard. Go figure.

Specializes in ER, progressive care.
i bring a laptop to class and type everything. we hand write at 30 words a min. i am sure you can type faster than that. lots of people use voice recorders, but i never have time to listen to them.

My classes strictly prohibited the use of laptop computers during class. Be sure to check your program's policy. I also find laptops to be very distracting. I used to bring a laptop to class during my pre-req courses but I found that by typing notes, I didn't retain the information as well compared to writing them *and* I spent more time playing around on my computer instead of listening to lecture. :nono:

Voice recorders are a nice thing but again, be sure to check with your program's policy. Some instructors don't care if you record their lectures...others will. I had a professor who threatened to sue if we recorded any of her lectures...I guess she had some problems with that in the past.

GrnTea]At the end of the semester I had a fabulous notebook of the whole course, and despite the fact that my brains continued to flow out of my nipples I got a respectable grade.


I sooo wish we could do that, but recording our lectures is banned at my school :(

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