How I Study in Nursing School

Hello and welcome, or welcome back. Today I am going to talk about how I study to get A’s in nursing school. This post has been requested by a couple of readers, and I know it’s helpful to see how others are studying to pick up new tips and tricks. It’s been a little while since I’ve posted any nursing school-related posts, and it’s because I was enjoying my first month off on summer break! I am going to start posting some of the nursing school-related content that has been requested, or that I think will be helpful to other incoming nursing students.

For some background, if you’re new here, I am in an ADN (2-year) nursing program at a community college. I just completed my first year and am set to graduate in June 2022. After that, I plan on attending the RN to BSN program at a university while working. Due to COVID, I didn’t get to go to clinical until this last spring quarter. Up until then, it was virtual simulations for clinical. Every quarter so far I’ve posted a recap of how it went, which you can check out below:

Other pre-nursing and nursing school posts that are up on my blog can also be found below:

Ok, let’s get into how I study!

How I Study in Nursing School

Disclaimer: I am a visual-auditory learner, so if you have a different learning style what works for me might not work for you. Also, I know I mentioned above studying for A’s, however, I don’t think that is the priority in nursing school. Bedside manner and safety are the most important things and tests are not going to measure your interaction with patients. Also, you can know the information very well, but depending on the professor and their testing style, you can completely bomb it. My point is that if you don’t get an A, it isn’t the end of the world. Your employer isn’t going to see that and your patients aren’t going to know.

1. Notecards

I know a lot of people tell you not to use notecards to study in nursing school. I totally disagree! Notecards are what keep me afloat. It helps me retain the information by rewriting my important notes and I use active recall while going through the cards. It’s time-consuming to write them, but you don’t have to have a notecard for every little detail. For example, if you’re learning fluid and electrolytes, that’s a great topic to write notecards on. However, you don’t need to write notecards of every other little detail from your professor’s slides or things that you already know. If you’re short on time, carry them with you and squeeze a couple in while you’re on your commute, waiting in line, or any other free time.

2. Registered Nursing RN Videos

If Sarah with Registered Nursing RN on Youtube has a video about a topic, it’s most likely going to help you much more than your lecture on the same topic! The textbook honestly doesn’t help me that much. Sarah usually covers everything that you need to know on a topic in the same depth as your textbook. If I am preparing for a test, I will watch her videos while I’m cooking dinner or getting ready in the morning. Sometimes I will even make notecards on the information from her videos. I highly recommend it, especially if you are an auditory learner. When you’re done with the video, if you want to test your knowledge, she has NCLEX questions related to the topic that you can find on her website.

3. Practice NCLEX Questions

Doing practice NCLEX questions can help your active recall. Where I find the questions really depends on the module that is being covered and the quarter that I am in. One that I have used in the past is the Saunders NCLEX Review book (my school required me to buy it, but if yours didn’t and you want to buy it you can find it linked here). Other resources I’ve used for practice questions are nurselabs.com, the Med-Surg Capriotti Study Guide my school required I buy, and Quizlet. If you’re looking for a relevant Quizlet you can Google “Quizlet NCLEX Questions [Topic/Chapter]” and different sets of questions should pop up in the results. On nurselabs.com if you’re looking for questions, use the search bar to find your topic.

4. Study Groups

Study groups can either be very helpful, or very disorganized and chatty. I personally like doing practice questions and sometimes notecards in groups. I had never previously done a study group in pre-nursing (aside from biology and chemistry when I attended a university instead of a community college). Just reviewing everything that the professor expects you to know for a test or things that they said you need to remember during lecture but you may have forgotten can get you an extra few questions right on the test.

Other Tips:

Learn how to Decipher NCLEX Questions

If you’re just starting nursing school, or still are uncomfortable with NCLEX style questions, I recommend learning a bit about how to answer them. NCLEX questions can be hard because you have to select the most right answer. That means that in a question every answer can be right, however, you have to select the answer that best fits. The Saunders book that I linked above gives helpful rationales that include how to break down the specific style NCLEX questions. Sarah with Registered Nursing RN also has this video that breaks down NCLEX style questions that would be helpful if you’re just starting nursing school! These resources will give you tips like eliminating similar answers, treating select all questions like true or false, and prioritizing through ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation).

Time Management

You are going to go crazy if you spend every waking minute studying! Take study breaks, don’t study during every second you have free, and remember to take care of yourself. In the end, when you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and keeping your stress levels down, you are going to do better on the exams.

Cut out the Distractions

This is where I struggle! I can become so distracted, especially by Youtube or Instagram. If you are struggling to stay focused, try taking a break and go for a walk, or eliminate the distractions if possible. If you know your home is going to be somewhere that is very distracting, you can always go to the library or a coffee shop, or somewhere with fewer distractions.

I hope these study tips and how I study in nursing school have been helpful to you! I always love to hear how other people study, so if you have any tips or study in a way different from me then let me know in the comments! As always, you can find me on Instagram @maddie_deer here, or can follow me on my Facebook page to be alerted of any new posts here. I have a lot more nursing school-related posts ready to be posted, so be on the lookout for those!

Good luck studying 🙂

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