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: https://www.how-to-study.com/learning-style-assessment/ and http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml
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!
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If the thought of your nursing school final exam schedule has you harried and anxious, it’s time to take a step back and figure out some tricks to help you get through this very stressful time.
If you don’t understand some of the material you know will be on the final exam, schedule an appointment with your professor or a tutor before your exam presses down on you. Studying for finals is about reviewing the information (and a lot of it!). This isn’t the time to try to learn information on your own that you are assumed to know. Don’t wait until the last minute.
2. Assess What You Need to Do
Don’t panic over things you can’t control. Start your exam preparation by getting organized. Figure out what your exam schedule is, what needs to be done so you can get ready, and what time you have available for studying. Make task lists for each class so you don’t forget anything. If you know what it all looks like, you’ll be more in control.
3. Gather Your Equipment
Equipment isn’t necessarily pens and paper. You need all that (index cards to make flash cards, gum for stress, and a little bit of chocolate!), but take a look at the bigger picture, too. Decide what you need to study best. Can your professor recommend any additional materials to help you study for the specific subject? Do you need any books ordered from the library to help you out? What about online resources you can access to boost your studying?
4. Take Care of Yourself
Pulling an all nighter isn’t going to make things better. It’s going to make you a cranky student who is more prone to falling asleep and forgetting important points. Eat well to keep your energy up, exercise to blow off steam, take the time to relax so you can recharge, and get enough rest. If you stay up too late one night, try to fit in a short nap the next day.
5. Study With Others
Try to meet up with a study group or at least one other student for each class. Just talking about the subject, writing down notes, and revisiting tough points or applications can help you remember the information better. Someone else might have some excellent study tips or resources you might find helpful as well.
6. Get to Work
Don’t jump from subject to subject. Block out several hours and devote that time to one specific class. But don’t study for five hours without a break. That will set you up for overload. Plan a certain amount of study time, fit in a 10-minute break, and then get back to studying. Remove all the things that might normally distract you. Put your phone away, and turn off the TV and radio if they interrupt you. Try not to think of all you have to do. Just start working and checking tasks off your list.
With a little organization and a lot of dedication, studying for finals will be manageable. Good luck!
No, not that ab crunch you did at the gym – we’re talking the holiday crunch. The “I have to study, shop, socialize, and by the way get some sleep, too,” holiday squeeze. As a nursing student, you’re used to juggling a lot at once. But if you’re wondering how to make sure your study time doesn’t suffer during the holiday rush, use the next few weeks to study smarter, not harder.
How? Studying smarter, not harder means using every single second of your time to get the most results, and that doesn’t mean logging more hours.
1. Pace Yourself
When you have too much to do and a limited amount of time, make a plan. You should think about a couple of logistics like prioritizing your tasks and deciding how much time you need to complete them (and then add an hour or two!). But you also need to figure out when you should study to be at your best (not past midnight if you’re an early bird) and where you can go to have the quiet you need. Planning it all means you’re less likely to get tripped up by something unexpected.
2. Make the Time
The holiday season might seem magical, but the one thing you can use – extra hours in a day – just won’t happen. Take the hours you do have and make the most of them. Finding time to study when finals are bearing down and holiday commitments are building isn’t easy, but it can be done. Use every extra minute in your day – no matter what your day looks like. Sitting at the laundomat? Rough out a paper, take notes on a lab while it’s fresh, catch up on the ever-present reading you need to do for the week. Same goes for running errands – stash flash cards in your bag and go through them if you’re waiting in a long line.
3. Write It, Don’t Just Read It
Study experts say the very act of writing down information (like taking notes or making flashcards) is more effective than just reading. While you’re reading, take notes on the important points in a notebook. Write flashcards for important terms or practices. If you’re struggling with specific terms or ideas, write them down 30 times just like a grade school spelling test. Writing helps you remember more information, and then you have some study notes that can be easily carried and pulled out when you have a couple of free minutes.
4. Practice Your Speech
Hate proofreading your own papers? If you can swap papers with a friend for a once over, do it. It’s a great way to catch errors and make your writing even stronger. But in a pinch, reading your paper out loud is a tool journalists use all the time. Find a quiet place (the car is a great spot) and read out loud at a slow and steady pace. You’ll be amazed at the spelling and grammatical errors you missed by reading alone.
5. Take Breaks
Spending too much time cramming for an exam can actually make things worse. You just can’t do a 10-hour marathon without taking a couple of breaks, but you can’t get distracted either. Plan when you will stop your work so you can get up, stretch, walk around a little, and chat with a friend. When your planned time is up, stop and get back to studying. You’ll be refreshed without losing your focus.
Hopefully your holidays will give you plenty of time for both work and fun. On the days when things seem really hectic, take a deep breath, use every minute wisely, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish! Good luck!
Millions of nursing students began their spring semester last week. For some, it marked their first week in nursing school, while others are continuing their nursing journey. Whatever the circumstance, effective study habits are needed in order to be successful in nursing school.
Everyone has their own way of learning and studying, but developing good study habits early will help you get your semester off to a great start.
Make a study plan. Write out a study plan detailing what you will study and when. Your study plan can change depending on if it is general study between exams or studying for an actual upcoming exam. Write your study times down on your calendar to stay on track.
Find a quiet and comfortable place to study. Your study environment is an important factor of your study plan. Find a place to study that minimizes distractions (extreme temperatures, noise, people, etc.)
Disconnect. Turn off the TV and turn your phone off to minimize distractions. If you can’t live without your phone for a few hours try to place it out of reaching distance so you won’t be distracted by constantly checking status updates.
Read and summarize. Read your class handouts and assigned reading and then summarize the information into your own notes. Your notes should be produced in the form that aids your learning the best; flashcards, outline format, diagram, audio recording, or a combination of all of the above.
Review and update. Review and update your notes with new information frequently. You should do this after each class so the material is fresh. Old material is reiterated when new information is added. Reviewing and updating keeps information fresh in your head so you won’t have the need to cram before a big exam.
Take breaks. Studying is mentally taxing and you need to take breaks to stay alert. Study in 30-45 minute blocks and then take a well-deserved break to mentally refresh yourself.
What study habits have aided your learning? Share them with us!
In addition to working as a RN, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at http://renursing.wordpress.com.
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