Survival guide (study tips, hints and any other advice)

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I have noticed that there are many students on this board who are about to get ready to start the first semester of nursing school come January. So I thought maybe it would be a nice idea for those of us already in nursing school to share study tips, hints and other nursing school survival tips in order to help those who are preparing to start. Many of us can remember what it was like to first start nursing school and before we started we wondered what is it going to be like, how differently am I going to have to study for nursing school compared to pre-req's. Well everyone has their own way of doing things, and finding methods that work best for them and some people still experiement with methods of their own. So if you would like to help fellow students out you can give a few suggestions here:

My suggestions:

1) Don't stress over getting a 4.0 it is not worth the extra stress. Yes, don't get me wrong a 4.0 is what we ALL Want but sometimes it does not happen and sometimes we get B's or even C's but sometimes Some people who get B's or C's remember more than some of those who get 4.0's. Nursing school is REALLY hard.

2) Buy a good NCLEX review Book with Review and questions it will help you for nursing school tests. My personal favorites are 1) Mosby, 2) Lippincott, and 3) Saunders. But there are many to choose from.

I am not really good at giving study tips as I am still trying to find what works best for me but I will tell you this much. For me typing my notes out has helped me a great deal. It may seem like a waste of time but it has helped. Try it out a couple of times and then if you don't like it then don't use it. Some people like it and others have other methods.

Well, that is it from me. Just would like to say Good luck in your first semester and in nursing school.



1,037 Posts

Thanks.. :) I begin an ADN program in January... and of course any study tips, stress relievers are more than welcome....

I do thing that essarge idea of having one day for yourself with no studying is a good one.... Geesh, you can't be in a book 24-7 or you will drive yourself crazy... I plan on taking one day to myself and going shopping or cleaning house, being lazy whatever.. Just NO nursing :)

Bring on the tips :D :cool: :D :cool:


59 Posts

After being out of school for many, many years (other than taking a few internet pre-reqs to get into the program), it took me almost 3 weeks to get into the swing of things in the nursing program. My best advice to those who may not be up-to-date with studying techniques, etc. would be to ask your school for a list of reading that you could do before you start classes so that you can get a little head start on it. Don't assume that you will start in chapter one, because the books are not set up to always go according to your school's program. We jumped around so much I never knew where the heck I was supposed to be! We only stuck to our syllabus for the first month, and then things went wacky from there! :p

I have to agree with Peaceful with the whole 4.0 thing. It is totally acceptable to pass nursing with a C. I went into my program telling myself that I would not settle for anything but an A, but as I saw my family life suffering due to my schooling I decided to cut myself a break. Those of us who have families look at things differently than those who don't. I am sure you will hear from others on this board that you should shoot for that 4.0, but sometimes that's just not possible when you have children, husband, pets, etc.

Best wishes to all the newbies who start classes in January!!

jschut, BSN, RN

2,743 Posts

What works for me is to tape my lectures and write notes on them again as I am listening to it a second time. I have a little mini recorder, so I wear headphones, but it really works for me!

And... I make flashcards about my class objectives, and my husband "flashes" me. (The cards, that is...:eek: )

The best of luck to all of you!


Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

Peacful's idea of not stressing about the 4.0 is a very good one. And having a study-free day is also good. Also, I'm trying to find places other than home to study, because I get distracted by the laundry and the dust bunnies. They can't call out to me if I'm at the library.


105 Posts

The tips above are great!! Especially the nonstressing about the possibility

of less than a 4.0 I was actually told my an instructor...ABC=RN. This

was the first time I hadnt gotten the A and really felt low. You can be

an awesome nurse and not have a 4.0!!!

Other tips to share: Organization is a must. I put everything in a binder

before the course begins. I also have a seperate clinical binder.

Care plan books can be a great help, but you have to individualize for

each patient...we are like 2 are alike:)

Having an awesome study buddy or group is great, but realize

you are the one passing the tests/clinicals. You will be the only one

taking the NCLEX and no matter how much you want to lean on those

buddies they cant take it for you. (I learned this valuble lesson this past

semester, for almost for 4 yrs I was standing on my own two

feet I just needed the confidence to do so)

Make sure you get enough sleep.

If you dont know ASK. I guarantee someone else needed to

know the same thing...they just were afraid to ask.

Be realistic and keep your expectations high but not so high you cannot

meet them.

Good luck and best wishes!!!



216 Posts

i make flashcards to keep in the car. read them while waiting at stop lights, in waiting rooms, on break at work, whenever. i also type the notes on computer, print them and glue them to the cards--it makes them a lot neater and for me easier to remember. i read my lecture notes when i get home from school and often. luckily for first semester, our tests came from power point presentations (which we were given a copy of)--so basically just reading these frequentlyl kept me on top of everything.


1,250 Posts

I've gotten most of my books for the next semester already. I've started the computations book and the pharmacology book. Next week I start the micro book (instructor downloaded his notes onto a disk for me and I've already printed them up). Next semester is going to be a really tough one....but I've seen worse things so I'll be ok.

I'm still standing by taking one day off for ME (not hubby, kids etc., but ME). It worked well last semester and I know that I'll need it this semester coming up!

I've also started using potpurri (vanilla) and it seems to have a calming effect. I think my next "flavor" will be apple cinimon (still trying to lose that extra 20 I put on in the last year! LOL). My family knows that my room is off limits when I'm in school so I've got my little space...and housework????? Not unless I'm tripping over something. My family is old enough to pick up after themselves and if they don't it goes on their bed!! Dinner is usually cooked in the slow cooker or something like stoeffer's lasagna (really good by the way). Floors, guest bathroom, etc are taken care of by my boys as their chores (Iwash them though).

Hope these suggestions help and everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday/school break!!:D


310 Posts


Next semester is goingto be really tough for me too because all my prerequisites for next semester entail alot of writing. Yes! I am a very good writer but I know I will have to spend more time reading.

I have microbiology too and I am reading up on it just now and trying to do some self test exams. I know I will make it because of my determination to maintain a good GPA.

Please pray for me and thanks for your support.



18 Posts

what's THAT? I haven't seen a 4.0 in two semesters! I was devastated too... I've had nothing BUT straight A's until the nursing cirriculum part!

I have a theory that being TOO much of a brainiac can be detrimental to your nursing school experience -- for example -- this one girl in my class: made SURE everyone she knew was informed that "SHE WAS the class brain" and was in honors.... WELL as it turned out ---- she is quite possibly the most NO nurN-common sense person in our class!!! She is book smart - can read a text and has a photographic memory --- but as for critical thinking --- WHOOSH! IT'S ALL out the window!

I probably shouldn't be talking about her this way - I'm not jealous of her - I'm also in honors AND I'm the only person who's received an "A" yet since the nursing cirriculum began for us!

Some of my instructors have said that as well... some of the "smartest" students make the "suckiest" nurses....

I keep my grades mostly to myself - I only share w/ a very few friends - and only one person knows I'm in the honors program -- I would NOT want to be seen as someone like this other girl who is boastfull - and still doesn't know how to think on her feet. I would rather my classmates NOT see my GPA and see me ---

as for study groups -- I've really enjoyed the group I study w/ --- but I think reading the text is VERY important --- in order to study w/ others, I must be able to comprehend WHAT it is we're talking about first!

Good luck and see you in the hospitals!:p


7 Posts

Flash cards are a definate for me. They work well with nursing and micro. I just finished micro. Thank goodness. They are also compact to carry with you instead of your huge nursing looseleaf or a textbook.

Tape the lectures so you can absorb what the proffessor is saying and not have to concentrate on note taking. (It is also handy when one of your friends misses lecture you can give them a copy).

Buying a NYCLEX review book has also helped me, but make sure it is comprehensive. Meaning make sure it has outlines and rationales for the answers.

Set up a study schedule by subject. You can put you family life, your work hours, your study hours and your "you time" hours on it. this is what works for me. It is easier for me to see it all on one page. Don't forget to put down your commuting time as well, that takes up more time than you think.

Hope this is helpful, I am entering my last semester of an ADN program aromatherapy works well for focusing. I got into it after taking holistic health! Good Luck:)


96 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

Thanks for all the tips! Goodluck to all of us nursing students, especially those that already have families of their own. We really have to double our efforts.;)

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