10 Nursing School Study Tips

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Nursing school requires a significant amount of studying to be able to apply the concepts and theory you are learning to nursing practice. To help make study time more productive, try incorporating some nursing school study tips, such as study groups and not cramming for an exam, into your routine.

nurse on laptop

Nursing school is a unique, hands-on experience that challenges you to stretch your comfort zone and push yourself. Nursing school is demanding and will require significant time studying to stay on top of assignments and pass exams. Earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BS in Nursing) is not easy, but you can incorporate many nursing school study tips into your routine to be successful.

In the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, you will have the support of our dedicated faculty to help you navigate nursing school and find success. Through our comprehensive curriculum, nursing skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations, you can earn your BS in Nursing in as few as 16 months and be prepared to confidently take the NCLEX and earn your registered nurse (RN) license.

Passing nursing school requires you to understand the material rather than memorize facts. While this makes nursing school more challenging, with preparation, you can meet these challenges. Below are 10 nursing school study tips to help you form productive study habits and pass nursing school.

two ABSN students working in sim lab

Are you interested in nursing with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field? Read more to learn how an accelerated nursing program works to determine if it’s right for you.

1. Know Your Learning Style

A learning style refers to how you intake, process, and interpret information. There are many ways of interpreting learning styles, but when it comes to studying, one of the most helpful is VARK (Visual, Aural, Reading/writing, Kinesthetic). These modalities can influence how you process information. You may already have an idea of which methods you prefer.

For example, visual learners prefer processing information through methods such as flowcharts or watching a demonstration. When you understand which styles you prefer, you can construct more productive study sessions. Through the VARK Questionnaire, you can identify your preferred learning styles and gather ideas for new, supportive studying methods.

2. Set a Studying Schedule

In nursing school, studying isn’t limited to preparing for assessments. You must consistently review material to prepare for simulation labs, clinical rotations, and, eventually, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This is why scheduling your study time is one of the most essential nursing school study tips.

Consider your school and personal schedules to find windows of time you can dedicate to studying. Committing to a study schedule holds you accountable, ensuring you remain organized and meet nursing school’s demands.

3. Don’t Cram for Exams

It’s only natural to feel as if you need to cram before exams; after all, nursing school is a fast-paced environment. However, cramming before an exam can have the opposite effect. If you stay up late studying before an exam, you can cause additional stress and affect your sleep, making it difficult to recall information. Instead, plan study sessions ahead of time so you can calmly review information in a relaxed setting, and then be sure to get a full night’s rest before the exam.

4. Get Ahead on Course Material

Take advantage of any opportunity to get ahead on your course material. Nursing school moves fast, especially in an accelerated program, and getting ahead when possible is the best way to keep up with the pace. Review the syllabus for each course to determine where you can work ahead and block out time in your schedule.

student nurse studying

Reading assignments are generally easy to get ahead on since they require less focus and time to complete. You should also consider due dates for writing assignments and other projects. Try to start these as soon as possible so you can dedicate shorter work sessions rather than sitting down for hours at a time as the deadline nears.

5. Review Notes Before Class

Reviewing your notes before class is one of the simplest and lowest-stress nursing school study tips. Nursing school presents the building blocks for nursing theory and concepts, so by reviewing notes before class, you are strengthening your knowledge and preparing to absorb new information. Take a few minutes before each class to review the previous day’s notes to refresh and improve retention.

6. Experiment with Study Formats

Nursing school is challenging, so you may need to experiment with different study formats to make your sessions more productive. Studying for nursing school is more than memorizing definitions and facts; you must fully understand the concepts to apply them to nursing practice.

Experimenting with different study formats will help you identify the best ways to improve your understanding of nursing theory and concepts. Try creating study guides, quizzes, and flow charts to test your understanding of the information and how each concept relates.

Flashcards and mnemonic devices can help you remember specific terms. Lastly, try teaching someone else what you have learned to gauge your understanding of the subject matter.

7. Remain Organized

Organization is one of the simpler nursing school study tips. Being organized makes it easier to access older notes and exams for smoother study sessions. Keep your old exams in a folder to review problem areas and assess your progress.

Student with class notes working on computer

Organization also applies to scheduling. Keep assignment due dates and exam dates in a day planner or a calendar app so you don’t lose track of your commitments. This is especially helpful in the fight against burnout. When you remain organized and plan your weeks ahead, you will feel less overwhelmed and can strategize how to stay on top of your commitments and improve your study habits.

Organization is, perhaps, the most critical of the NCLEX study tips. The NCLEX will cover all you have learned in nursing school, testing how well you can apply these concepts to patient care. To properly prepare for the NCLEX, you should review previous class notes, assignments, and other course materials and take practice tests.

8. Form a Study Group

Study groups are a great way to hold yourself accountable while making studying feel less like a chore. When you study in groups, you can bounce ideas off each other and gain a deeper understanding of the material.

Study groups can be as formal or informal as you’d like. You can meet in student centers, libraries, or wherever is most convenient. It may help to designate someone as the coordinator to ensure everyone meets for sessions. Establishing chapters or subjects to review before each session may also be beneficial so everyone arrives prepared. You can even time sessions for exams, simulation labs, or clinical rotations.

9. Reward Yourself

student nurses talking

Rewarding yourself when you meet certain milestones—whether completing a study goal, passing a test, or completing a project—can incentivize you to keep going. A “reward” can be anything from watching TV, buying yourself a treat, or going out with friends. Rewarding yourself can diminish burnout and lighten the stress of nursing school.

10. Take Breaks When You Need Them

Taking breaks is one of the best ways to defeat burnout. It is important to rest your mind so you can return to your schoolwork feeling refreshed and ready to work. Schedule breaks when possible to ensure you have time to relax. Remember that taking breaks is just as important as the work itself. Breaks will benefit you in the long run, improving your mental stamina.

Nursing School Advice

Nursing school is challenging but not impossible. In addition to nursing school study tips, you can prioritize other actions for how to pass nursing school.

Practice Self-Care

Nursing school will be stressful, so you should not ignore self-care. Incorporate into your routine self-care practices that help you feel grounded. Stress-reducing practices like yoga and meditation will help you manage your responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed.

Exercise is another way to take care of yourself so you can return to your studies feeling energized. Think about which activities help center you and schedule them. Prioritize what matters without ignoring your nursing school commitments.

Other elements of self-care include good nutrition and sleep, which are often ignored when juggling assignments and classes. Try meal prepping to take the stress out of cooking every night so you can have quick and reliable meals ready. Also, schedule naps when needed and prioritize getting a full night’s rest. All of this will help you feel motivated throughout the day.

Connect with Your Instructors

Your nursing instructors are a wealth of information. Connecting with your nursing instructors throughout nursing school gives you access to their experience and ultimately makes you a better nurse in your career.

CMSV nursing students in lab

Ask lots of questions and seek advice when you can. When you build a relationship with your instructors, you become a stronger and more proactive student. Your instructors may even be able to provide you with letters of recommendation or internship opportunities, so taking the time to connect with them is worthwhile.

Set Academic Goals

Setting academic goals gives you direction as you progress through nursing school. Consider your goals and use the S.M.A.R.T. goal method to provide a clear plan. S.M.A.R.T. stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.” Make your goals measurable and include a clear course of action to meet them.

For example, if your goal is to pass a class, set a specific objective, such as “passing the class with a B or higher.” Now, consider how you can measure your progress toward the goal. Using the example, take note of all graded assignments. Then, create a realistic plan with a clear pathway toward achieving your goal.

It’s important to remember that your goals must be attainable. Your education can be unpredictable, so be prepared to adjust your goals as needed. Sometimes, earning an A is not possible, but a B certainly is. The most important part of a S.M.A.R.T. goal is to include a reasonable and actionable plan to help you pass nursing school.

nurses talking together while standing at hospital desk

Are you ready for nursing school? Read more to learn 10 tips to help you prepare for nursing school.

Earn Your BS in Nursing with Mount Saint Vincent

Mount Saint Vincent is dedicated to facilitating your success and preparing you for a rewarding and successful nursing career, supporting you from the admission process to graduation. While you will be challenged throughout nursing school, remaining proactive in your studies will set you on a path to successfully earning your BS in Nursing. With the help of these nursing school study tips and advice, you can meet the challenges, pass nursing school, and become a confident nurse.

Reach out to the admission counselors at Mount Saint Vincent today to learn more about our ABSN and how we can help you meet your goal of becoming an RN.