how to study



I am in my last semester in school. I shall be finishing in March 08. I usually get good grades but, i now find myself falling downhill. i am trying to find the most effective way to obtain as much information as possible to study. We (class) will be taking our finals in med-surg first week of march. I would rewrite my notes from lecture and read the chapters over again as i rewrite. then, I would do questions at the end of the chapter finally, do nclex questions. I know this is time consuming but, crunch time is at hand. Does anyone have any suggestions?


38 Posts

I do "flash cards" for every test. It helps me alot to retain the information because it singles everything out on each card. Just a suggestion. I don't really know if it will help you with all of that information. Have you thought of just focusing on the major parts of your notes?

gaajr1, RN

148 Posts

Specializes in med-surg. Has 1 years experience.

I will be starting in Fall and so can't answer specific questions but this is how I would go about.

1. Because you were doing well and started "falling downhill", I would first identify the weak areas. Question your reasons for not doing as well as before. Once you do that, work on it to improve.

2. If there is something you need to discuss with your instructors, don't hesitate. Set up an appointment with them and go from there.

3. Each has their own way of studying and if the way you are doing has brought results, that's all that matters.

You have come this far and you just have one semester to go. Don't loose heart, YOU CAN DO IT! Good luck!

Specializes in Med/Surg/Bariatrics. Has 3 years experience.

The first thing I do when I get home is take my notes and make flash cards over the important/test info. Sometimes that means 25-40 cards a day but I do it. Then I put all my notes away. Before bed I will take the cards and go over them one time, placing the ones I know in a pile and then the ones I dont in another pile. When I get up I take the pile I didn't know and go over them.

Everyday that I come home with new notes I sit down and make the flash cards, mix them with the ones I already have and start doing them. I find if I take the time to do this daily it's less stressful and less work overall.

A few days before the test I will do like you and answer the questions in the back of the chapters, and continue my flash cards. My first test I had 115 flash cards and knew every single one of them by test day, then scored a 91 on my first test.

I just make sure to do the cards daily and anytime I have extra time I break out the cards and do them, sometimes once a day, sometimes 5 times a day. It's easier than books and notebooks and I retain the info, just works for me. I also draw diagrams on flash cards too, highlight what I need to know and work on them, I find that helps too.

Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.

studying is a skill that sometimes takes a lot of trial and error to master. check out the links on this sticky thread:


84 Posts

Good day to everyone:

I have found Daytonite's message very helpful as I rewrite my notes for each body system and their respective diseases. I follow her outline as stated. There is a website on line (I do not have it though, you will have to do a search)that one can get an idea of what type of learner you are.

My learning style is hearing it and actual hands on. So, I find myself verbalizing the concept (just like you are teaching someone else) and for clinicals actually doing the procedure,etc. I am on a break right now from nursing school and plan on returning either fall 08 or spring 09.

My most previous semester was not my best.....b/c I was approaching my study strategies contrary to my learning style. Like Daytonite said, finding what works for you is by trial and error. As I am preparing to return to school, I am studying by reading and verbally repeating the concept,etc to myself. My last time in school I tried flashcards, charts, mindmapping... and as a result was my worst semester. These methods may be fine for someone who is a strong vision learner.

I have 2 questions though, about studying. I seem to not find in my textbooks or on-line how a symptom proceeds from mild to serious (fatal).

And the other question I have been using the nursing process as I study pharmacology nursing interventions and the rationale for each intervention.

Oh!.... are making comparisons between each disease in a body system difference in their pathophysiologies, difference in interventions,etc.

been a successful study strategy for anyone out their...kind of like comparing SIADH to Diabetes Insipidus.

Please advise..and thank you for reading this thread too.


Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.

this web site has a self-test you can take to determine what kind of modality you learn best with.

  • - how do you learn best? this site has information on strategies to help you study better based on whether you are a visual, aural, read/write, kinesthetic or multimodal studier. you click on the modality that best describes you to get study advice. if you are not sure which best suits you, take the questionnaire to find out. click on "questionnaire".


20 Posts

Hi everyone,

I want to thank everyone for responsing to my message because, it can help us all. I know what needs to be done but, i do feel overwhelmed because i am at the end of NS. It just it is crunch time and i am limited with time to study. It seems we have an exam every week. I was trying to figure out if i should just read the book and highlight important information and then review the nclex questions to cut time short. what do you think?:mad:

Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.

studying is a skill that we each learn over time. what works for me or someone else may not work for you. you are the only one who knows what has worked best for you. you should have reviewed your previous wrong answers on tests to determine where you made errors in your studying to help you correct your study methods. that i can't help you with--it's an evaluation you have to do on your own. as a broad answer i would tell you to follow the objectives that are being covered by each exam and be able to respond to the information they require you to know.

for nclex style questions. . .you must:

  • know and consider the normal anatomy and physiology
  • know and consider abnormal anatomy for the disease in question
  • know and consider the resulting signs and symptoms when the disease occurs and how they proceed from mild to fatal - each sign and symptom can be related back to the pathophysiology of the disease
  • know and consider how the doctor diagnoses and treats the disease in question
  • know nursing interventions for the signs and symptoms you are being asked about
  • know the steps of the nursing process and what goes on in each of the steps and consider how they are affecting the question you are being asked
  • know and consider the principles behind the actions being done - there are many kinds of principles: principles of nursing, principles of biology, principles of chemistry, principles of physics, etc.
  • read the stem of the question carefully and answer that because the test makers try to trip you up by distracting you with conflicting information they give you in the answer choices that sounds good but has no relationship to what the question is asking for
  • ask yourself "why" a patient is experiencing some sign or symptoms to get at the underlying problem. nursing like other disciplines treats the problem/signs and symptoms.

this sticky thread has information on test taking:


1,714 Posts

This is advice from one of my instructors - it's not exactly what I do, but it's based on her extensive experience. She recommends reading each chapter, focusing on the boxes and tables. Don't waste your time taking meticulous notes on each one, or reading and rereading. Go to every class, and record the lectures. Take good notes, on the powerpoints if you have them. Consider playing your lectures again if you missed anything, have a long commute, or are an audio learner. She was really against all this writing and rewriting of notes, and said that most people who are doing really badly are still trying to do that or to make flashcards (doesn't mean that won't work for some people, this is what we were told in my NCLEX strategies class last week). Then work questions. Work 50 questions every single day, at a minimum. Work more as your exams approach. Don't try to study for each test in the few days before it, rather study as you go, and keep doing questions. Those of us who consistently work several hundred questions before each exam are the ones who consistently get As. Your exact method should definitely vary based on how you learn best, but working NCLEX questions should be the main focus of your study time. Good luck!


11 Posts

When do these NCLEX type questions begin in nursing school? Where do you find 50 of them to work every day? And Ive heard that nursing school goes system by system- can you find these questions that relate system by system? Im starting march 31st and I am terrified of these types of questions!!!


1,714 Posts

Go to amazon and type in NCLEX-RN. You'll get a ton of results. Ours began with our first exam, but since I'd already been on this site for awhile, I sort of knew what to expect. They all test application of material, not knowledge of facts. I caught on pretty quickly, probably because I started practicing them first semester, but some of my classmates are still struggling a little with them in semester 3. If your previous college education consisted primarily of memorization of facts, you might struggle. If you've taken classes where you had to apply knowledge, you might catch on a little easier. You just need to get used to the style, then it's not so bad. There just isn't often one clear cut "right" answer.

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