Nursing school is notoriously challenging, but for good reason. Nurses hold a significant amount of responsibility in caring for their patients and coordinating fellow health care team members. However, while you’re in nursing school, trying to juggle everything on your to-do list can be stressful, and knowing where to start with your studies can be overwhelming.
Nursing school will likely be distinct from your previous educational experiences and if you choose an accelerated nursing program, you may be in for a little more of a challenge. In an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, like the one offered at Misericordia University, you will experience fast-paced coursework that can be completed in as little as 16 months. The curriculum on Misericordia’s ABSN program consists of online nursing theory coursework, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations. Because this is such a different experience, you might need to reevaluate some of your study habits. But that’s okay! Through trial and error, you’ll figure out how to study in nursing school in a way that best suits your personal learning style. Read on for 8 tips to help you get started.
While nursing school will likely be different from your previous education, your experience doesn’t have to be confusing. See what your first semester as a nursing student might look like.
1. Consistency is Key
Any nursing student, past or present, will tell you that it’s impossible to study for nursing school exams by cramming the night before. This is especially true for a fast-paced program like Misericordia’s ABSN program. This is why consistency is the first tip on the list. Setting aside specific times for studying and completing assignments each day will ensure that stay on top of things. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours upon hours each day doing schoolwork, but it does mean breaking apart your work into manageable pieces. Doing this will also prevent tasks from piling up, which may also help you to manage stress.
2. Study Strategically
In addition to studying consistently, studying strategically is an important factor in the success of your sessions. It is important to remember that marathon study sessions usually aren’t the most effective. While you might pass the exam by doing this, you probably won’t retain much of the information long-term. This information is critical for you to help treat your patients once you graduate and become a nurse. So how can you study for nursing school in a strategic manner? There are several different study techniques you can practice to help ensure your success.
The Pomodoro Technique
One of the more popular methods of study is the Pomodoro Technique. This involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing on your work. Then, once your timer goes off, take a short five-minute break. Repeat this cycle for a total of four times and then take a longer 25–30-minute break. This technique is meant to help you stay focused while preventing mental fatigue. You could apply this technique during your online coursework at Misericordia. Because this section of our curriculum allows students to work at their own pace, some students may find that applying the Pomodoro Technique to online coursework helps them stay focused on the material for longer periods of time.
Learn more about Misericordia’s online nursing education.
Teach to Learn
Another useful strategy to use while you’re trying to learn a concept is to teach it to someone else. Whether it is a classmate or your cat, sharing the concept you are studying in your own words can help cement it into your mind. If you realize that you can’t explain something during your lesson, chances are you should study that material a little more closely. Once you can teach an entire concept in your own words, you will know that you have a good grasp of the material.
3. Quantity and Quality
While it may sound counterintuitive to say that you don’t need to study all day to study effectively, it’s true. Of course, it is important that you dedicate a good amount of time to your schoolwork. However, it is vital that the time you do spend studying is spent effectively. One of the most important factors in quality study time is the absence of distractions.
You can achieve this in several ways. First, silence your phone or other distracting devices. You can either do this by simply silencing your notifications, or you can take it a step further and download a focus app that helps you to put down the phone when it’s time to study.
Additionally, it is important that your study space is free of distractions. Try setting aside a quiet space in your home dedicated solely to studying to help you stay on task. Not only will this limit distractions while studying, but keeping all your schoolwork in one section of your home might even help you to relax more in your free time.
4. Make the Most of Meetings
When most people think of how to study for nursing school, they imagine studying outside of class. While this is inarguably important, making the most of your time while attending class online or meeting for labs and clinicals could have the potential to reduce the amount of time you need to spend studying outside of class. Effectively preparing, actively listening, and reviewing after completing online lessons and in-person labs or clinicals is necessary to really be successful with this.
To truly be able to make the most of the time you spend meeting with classmates and professors, virtually or in person, you must spend a little time preparing beforehand. Try skimming the material you will be going over beforehand. This will give you a chance to preview the information and begin to form questions ahead of time. Showing up with specific questions can help you to listen actively and stay focused.
During class times, it is important that you devote your full attention to your professors, classmates, and virtual tools. Actively participate in discussions and ask questions as they arise. You also should keep detailed notes, preferably handwritten. While typed notes offer a level of convenience, handwriting notes can prompt creativity and help you recall the information later, as writing requires your brain to make more connections than typing.
After your class or lab, it is important you set aside time later that day to review your notes and fill in any gaps. According to Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, you will forget a majority of what you learned within just one or two days. To keep the material fresh in your brain, reviewing it soon after you learn it (preferably later that day) and then regularly thereafter will help to prevent you from forgetting the information.
5. Count on Your Cohort
Study groups made up of peers in your cohort will also prove to be a great resource. In ABSN programs like Misericordia’s, students often come from many backgrounds. Drawing on the diversity in the life experience of your cohort members is a great way to broaden your perspective.
Additionally, forming study groups with your cohort will help you to strengthen relationships with your peers and build a support system during your time in nursing school. Having a study group will help make sure everyone stays on track and can help make studying more fun.
Aside from being a good study strategy, working with your cohort members will also build your teamwork skills. Throughout your career as a nurse, you will work as a part of a team to treat your patients, so learning how to collaborate with a diverse group of people will prove to be very valuable.
6. Lean into Your Learning Style
Everyone learns differently, whether they are auditory, visual, tactile, or reading and writing learners. You should tailor your study habits to suit how you learn. Here are some suggestions for each learning style:
- Auditory learners: Listen to recorded lectures, talk to yourself out loud as you study difficult concepts, or narrate what you are doing during skills labs.
- Visual learners: Watch videos that illustrate abstract concepts, and draw diagrams and flow charts.
- Tactile learners: Create models, use your own body as a “cheat sheet”, and act out scenarios.
- Reading/writing learners: Read and annotate textbooks, do outside research on challenging topics, and write out notes and study guides.
Many people learn through a combination of these styles, so don’t limit yourself to just one. Try out all of them and mix and match these techniques to figure out what works best for you.
7. Ask for Assistance
Asking questions is incredibly important. While it can be intimidating to admit to your professors and classmates that you are struggling to understand a concept, the chances are you aren’t the only one with questions. The faculty at Misericordia are always willing to answer students’ questions. Even with the hybrid model of learning, our students can access faculty members virtually or set up in-person meetings whenever they have questions about material.
Also, if you organize a study group, your peers can be a great resource for answering questions. Just as teaching a concept can benefit your learning, asking questions and letting your peers teach you is a great learning opportunity for both parties.
Additionally, here at Misericordia we offer a plethora of resources that our students can utilize. We are focused on promoting the success of our students, which is why we offer support such as academic success coaches, peer tutoring, and more.
8. Dedicate Downtime
While dedication to your studies is certainly and admirable trait, it is also important to remember to schedule downtime for yourself. It is okay to take breaks. In fact, it may even help you to study more effectively because you won’t be burnt out or tired while going over the material. Downtime can include spending time with family and friends, going to the gym, getting adequate sleep, and anything else that recharges your batteries. Learning how to maintain a healthy work–life balance while in school can help you to find that balance once you start your career as a nurse. Doing this will improve the quality of both your life and your work.
Ready to Put These Nursing School Study Habits to the Test?
With a better understanding of how to study for nursing school most effectively, it’s time to put these tips to work. If you are ready to get started on your journey to becoming a nurse, contact us today to speak to an admissions counselor.