What ACTUALLY works in nursing school


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Before nursing school, I was the memorization queen! As we all know, I learned quickly that wouldn't work. So I began with trying to read every page like a book. Wrong! And then writing almost everything I THOUGHT was relevant, wrong again! I looked over the Web and through many different outlets, I came up with my own method. Here's what I've learned thus far and has helped:

Textbooks are full of Technical information and should be read that way. Look at the main chapter highlights, what is the author going to cover. That's what he wants his audience to really know. Look at the terms before reading them so you can be familiar already. ALWAYS read anything in boxes, lists or bolded etc. It is put there for a reason. Don't read the entire chapter, thats a waste because again, its not a novel. Its a technical document. For instance my med surg book has info for both Adult 1 and Adult 2. Im not in adult 2 yet, so I asked my professor what conditions, illness, etc we'd be going over specially. I jumped to those parts only.

I read the section first before writing anything. Its a lot like when you're in class and the teacher is speaking while you're writing notes, you're going to miss something. So read the section fist, close the book or cover the page, and speak it out loud in a summary like you're a youtube instructor teaching a complete idiot. Do that a few more times. Keep reading and repeat. After that, write it down. Write down as much as you can remember. Once you get through everything you planned on studying that day. It's time to revise it. (also adding in lecture notes, powerpoints etc)

Rewrite your final draft notes, if you will, from your draft sloppy thinking notes. ( I do this so I can always reference information in the future. Like a nice booklet) Once you're down reading. Answer some questions. The Lewis med-surg book as EAQ questions at a basic level that will ask you chapter specific questions. (For the parts you didn't cover just skip) That re-enforced what I read. Then I'd answer HESI questions, NCLEX questions etc.

To really test myself for situations when people ask you questions on the spot (1st few times I looked like a deer in headlights) I found a blank care plan template on Pinterest. (Pinterest by the way is great for study stuff and charts related to nursing topics) I printed that template out and laminated it - In the middle you'd put the condition/disorder etc and then go from there. Trying to fill in everything you know from memory. Saves a lot of paper! (Personally when I write notes, I like to used colored pens as opposed to highlighting the book. I can open my notes and see directly what important etc.) If your book is rented and you can't highlight in it, use mini sticky notes over the area you want to remember and write something like KNOW!, MAIN CONCEPT, etc.

When you get tired of sitting down and need a break or just simply not by your desk, I would listen to youtube lectures in the car or working out.

Iphone has a great iCloud flashcard app that you can input information into a mac computer (idk if you can on windows) and then pull it up on your iPhone anywhere you're at. (say you're at the doctors office and can't play a youtube video with even headphones) You literally have a virtual flashcard set and take 1/2 the time to complete (save your back and hand!). You can edit the colors layout etc. I use is FlashCard Hero.

Last but not least, I might even look at quizlet and see what other people came up with for their flashcards. Make sure to skim it first to ensure that the questions/answers are correct and contains what you're looking to challenge yourself with.

Try teaching people etc pretend you're the expert. I really works! Hope that helps for anyone!

Specializes in Post Acute, Med/Surg, ED, Nurse Manager. Has 8 years experience.

I liked your method. The only big difference is I always read the whole chapter. I find it gives me a better understaning. But we also have an instructor that seems to through some random tidbit on tests. If I read I have a better chance.


5 Posts

Bullet Jounal style notes. Take the days lecture and rephrase it into your words! Make a notebook for each subject such as lab values and electrolyte deficiencies, GI, Endocrinology...etc. Use these specific notebooks to have a review of each system by the end of nursing school which can really focus you into areas you are deficient in.


27 Posts

Recording the lectures and listening quite a few times while taking notes from those recordings works best for me. The semester I did best on, this was my study method. I just graduated my RN program last week! :)


14 Posts

Stick with my own learning style. I always knew I cannot study with others, so I declined all the study group offers. Read the textbook and underlined before the seminars. Before the exam, I made notes based on what I underlined. So I ended up reading the textbook twice before the test.