Though Northeastern is wrapping up its first week of classes in Boston, there’s no end date on improving your study skills! These 9 habits will deliver positive results all the way to graduation.
1. Stay on track.
Sticking to a schedule in nursing school is easier said than done. But with effort and a little time to map out your schedule, you’ll save a lot more time in the long run. Keeping a day planner up to date with important items such as exam dates, assignment due dates, appointments and special events assures that you never miss an important task and helps you track your time.
On that note, don’t overbook yourself! Time management is a significant indicator of success in nursing school, so take the time to plan your time.
2. Outline your notes.
Each person has his or her own way of taking notes, but studies show that the most helpful notes follow an outline structure. The key to a good outline is not to worry about writing down each and every word from your instructor or in your book. Instead, focus on listening or reading and then writing down the main topics covered. You can follow up with sub-notes relating to each topic with key points. Make sure your notes are clear and concise so they’re easy to read later on.
After the lesson, while the information is still processing in your brain, summarize your findings in writing, the same way you would explain it to a friend. When you can verbalize or write down what you’ve learned, you’re more likely to retain it.
3. Create flashcards.
The visual cues on flashcards have been proven to increase memory retention while studying, so give it a try when you’re preparing for your next exam. Flashcards can be created by hand or on websites like FlashcardMachine.com that allow you to create online equivalents for printing or studying on the web.
To save time and increase retention, create flashcards after each lesson and study as you go instead of waiting until right before the exam. Flashcards are also a great and fun way to study with classmates!
4. Don’t work ahead (yet).
If you’re new to nursing school, we recommend tackling your lectures and assignments as they are due instead jumping ahead when you find some extra time. Focus on the now and make sure you completely understand each concept in the current lesson before you try getting ahead. Once you’ve established a rhythm, then you can evaluate the benefit of completing a lesson early versus tending to another area of your life.
5. Connect with your instructors.
Maintaining communication with your instructors is important from the first day of class to graduation day. It’s easier to learn from someone you understand, so take the time to introduce yourself, reach out during office hours with questions and feedback and use email and phone communication to stay in touch over the semester.
6. Ask questions.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions about concepts you don’t understand. Whether it’s emailing your instructor or comparing notes with those in your cohort, make sure all your questions get answered. Engage in discussions when possible.
7. Collaborate with your classmates.
A cohort that works together, grows together! Going through nursing school isn’t an easy feat, but you’re not doing it alone. Engage with other members in your cohort! Compare notes, study together and practice in the simulation lab.
Creating bonds with other students in nursing school will not only improve your experience but your performance as well!
8. Organize, Organize, Organize.
Keep your materials like assignments, notes, study materials and graded exams in a room or space that solely reserved for school. To save time, keep materials in order by date and label them with the corresponding lesson or chapter. Separate materials into folders or files and categorize the contents in an order that makes sense to you. Also, keep your supplies such as your stethoscope and penlight together in a bag or box so you don’t misplace or damage them.
9. Get away from distractions.
When it comes to completing assignments or studying for an exam, the right environment can make all the difference. For example, studying on the couch in your living room with the TV on or in your bed where the pillows are calling your name are NOT productive studying environments. Choose somewhere relatively quiet, preferably outside of the home, for really important study sessions, so you can devote all of your attention to the lessons. Small coffee shops, libraries, book stores, quiet restaurants and the outdoors can offer great study spaces.
When working at home, avoid distractions (i.e., don’t sit at the kitchen table if it puts you in view of a sink full of dirty dishes. Choose a room that’s comfortable to you with minimal distractions. When it comes to posture, sit straight up straight when reading or studying to avoid back pain. Take small five- to fifteen-minute breaks every thirty to forty-five minutes.
For more information on Northeastern’s Boston nursing programs, contact us today.