How to Study in Nursing School

How to Study in Nursing School

If there’s one question that I frequently get asked by nursing students, it is how to properly study to pass nursing tests and exams and make it out of nursing school alive. During nursing school I tried different ways to study and it took trial and error for me to finally find what worked best for me. Here are my top study habits to help you get those A’s and tackle nursing school exams.

Best Study Habits:

1. What type of learner are you?

First and foremost, determine what your learning style is. It’s imperative that you’re honest with yourself about the type of learner you are to get the best results from studying. Learning styles typically fall into 3 categories: visual, auditory or tactile/kinesthetic learning. Each learning style retains and processes information differently. So before signing up to be a part of that study group session find out if it works for you. Some students are able to study in only quiet places while others can concentrate around loud noise. Here are two educational websites that offer free learning assessments to help you determine which learning style fits you the best: and

2. Be organized.

Before you begin studying collect all of your essential tools such as notecards, pens, highlighters, coffee, and wine (just kidding). There’s nothing worse than being in your groove when studying and you realize that you’ve forgotten your favorite pen or highlighter. Have a plan of what you want to study for each session and a realistic expectation of how long it will take to go over the material. Give yourself adequate time to review each subject and include break times for each study session. According to a study recently done by Microsoft the average adult has a concentration span of only 8 seconds. That is less than that of a goldfish! So studying straight for hours without any breaks will not help you retain the information more.

3. Set goals.

You had a goal to get into nursing school and you have a goal to graduate, so why not set goals when studying? If there is a particular topic that is a weak area for you take out your planner and set a goal for when you want to fully master that material. Create a study outline with exact dates, time and even the location for when you will study each material. This will help you avoid having to cram for exams. Your class syllabus should have dates for when exams and texts will take place so don’t wait until you’re two weeks into the class to begin setting your study goals.

4. Less is more.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when studying in nursing school is using too many books or resources at once. Determine which resources are necessary for each exam and study that content. Professors typically outline which books or resources are appropriate to use for each course so use that as a guide on what to use when studying. If not you may run the risk of studying information that contradicts what you were taught in the classroom. Seek guidance from your professor when choosing to use other resources aside from what is required.

Nursing school is probably one of the most stressful and rewarding things you’ll ever go through in life. Help make things easier for yourself with the four study tactics I listed above to help you prepare for every test and ace those exams. Always remain positive and remember to relax before an exam. You’ve got this!

Stay connected with other nurses just like you! Facebook: Fierce Expression and Instagram: @fierceexpression.

Get Help to Study Smarter

Get Help to Study Smarter

Some of the smartest nursing students are the ones who get help to study better than they can on their own. They might hire a tutor, visit the school’s academic resource center, ask for help from a professor or teaching assistant, or from another student. Whatever they do, the top students don’t just hope for the best.

Here are some ways you can get help and be the best nursing student possible.

Visit Your School’s Academic Resource Center

These centers are on campus to help students – it’s what they do all the time. They have loads of resources to help you. You can be paired up with a peer tutor, those who have successfully taken the class or subject you are struggling in, who can help explain the topic to you. But there are also people who can show you how to study more effectively and how to take better notes in class. Strengthening those skills alone can help eliminate a lot of academic troubles.

Visit Your Professor

Professors have office hours so students can come to them for help or guidance. Students need questions answered or they need extra help understanding a topic or a subject, so professors set aside specific time to help them out. Take advantage of your professors’ office hours to help you get a handle on your topic. The atmosphere is typically more laid back than in a classroom and you can delve deeply into the topic.

Ask the Class Teaching Assistant

TAs also are great resources for information or even for specific requirements that the professor wants. A TA can help you interpret the class requirements for a lab or a paper and get you moving in the right direction.

Ask Friends

If your roommate’s soccer teammate aced the class you are taking, it can’t hurt to ask if they can help you. They might not be trained at actual tutoring, so this isn’t as dependable as trained peer tutors, but it can’t hurt to ask.

Join or Start a Study Group

People study together for a reason – it helps them do better in class. Groups talk about issues, solve problems together, and introduce new approaches to a problem that you might not be familiar with. And studying with a regularly scheduled group is great if you are someone who procrastinates. A regular group holds you accountable – it means you are more likely to show up and get the work done. No study groups for your class? Invite people to meet and start one yourself!

Ask a Student Nursing Association for Help

Are you cramming for the NCLEX? Join others who are having the same panic about the test. You can find them through a local student nursing association or check the National Student Nurses’ Association. Check local chapters for seminars on NCLEX study- and test-taking tips.

Every student can learn from others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if you earn top grades, you might be amazed at how much you learn if you get help to study smarter.