How to Succeed in Nursing School: 10 Proven Tips

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Whether you’re a current or future nursing student, it’s helpful to think about how to succeed in nursing school. Some of the top nursing school tips for success include getting organized, joining a reliable study group, personalizing your study plan, reviewing material before each class and using supplemental resources.

nursing students studying in common area

Making a career transition to healthcare can be one of the most meaningful and rewarding decisions you’ll make. It offers an opportunity for a new beginning, yet it’s not without its challenges. Nursing school is rigorous, with good reason, and it’s helpful to know how to succeed in nursing school before your program begins.

One of the most important nursing school tips for success is to ensure you choose the right program. If you decide to attend Northeastern University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, for example, you’ll have plenty of student support resources you can tap into, plus dedicated instructors who genuinely want you to succeed.

To that end, we’ve compiled the top 10 tips on how to be successful in nursing school.

closeup of nurse hands writing on clipboard at desk

Do you have what it takes to be successful in nursing school? Check out these top 10 nursing characteristics and skills.

1. How to Succeed in Nursing School by Staying Organized

It’s tough to get organized midway through the program; it’s far more effective if you implement an organizational system that works for you right from the start.

This is particularly important if you’re working through the nursing curriculum at an accelerated pace. With Northeastern’s ABSN program, for example, you can graduate in 16 months if you have prior non-nursing education. However, the rapid pace means it’s crucial to stay on top of everything right from the start.

Here are a few nursing student tips for getting and staying organized:

  • Maintain digital notes organized with files and subfolders for different classes and specific topic areas. Compared to written notes, typed notes allow for later expansion. Plus, you won’t have to worry about illegible handwriting.
  • Use a planner or planner app that contains all the items on your schedule for each day, as well as upcoming deadlines and miscellaneous reminders.
  • Establish a consistent routine that you can follow on at least most days of the week.
  • Set reminders on your phone so you won’t forget a study session or important deadline.
  • Each morning, double-check your bag for everything you’ll need for that day and plan your wardrobe accordingly. For instance, if you have clinicals after a lab, make sure you bring your scrubs and avoid wearing sandals.
nursing student writing on clipboard

2. Join a Reliable Study Group

You'll complete online coursework and onsite nursing labs with members of your nursing cohort. Onsite labs offer opportunities to get to know your cohort and to form a study groups. Study groups can be very effective, which is why they’re one of the top nursing school tips for success.

However, not all study groups are created equally. If your first study group has members who often don’t show up or contribute much to the discussion, don’t feel guilty about looking for a new group or dedicated study buddy.

3. Prepare Before Every Class

Spaced repetition is helpful for memory formation and learning retention. One way to increase the number of times you review certain material is to get into the habit of reviewing your notes and course material before each class.

Sit down at least 10 to 15 minutes before each class to review notes. If time allows, you might also consider using the same strategy after each class to review the material that was just discussed.

What is nursing school like, exactly? Check out this blog to get an inside look at what you can expect.

student nurses working in sim lab

4. Regularly Assess Your Knowledge and Comprehension

The fourth of these nursing school tips for success is checking your progress at regular intervals. After all, it’s hard to know if you’re achieving your goals if you aren’t quite sure where you’re at. Consider taking a full-length practice NCLEX test at least once during each semester of nursing school. This can help you get a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

5. Nursing Student Tips: Personalize Your Study Plan

You can use the results of your practice NCLEX tests to personalize your study plan. Plan to spend more time reviewing content areas that you struggle with, although you should still dedicate some time to your stronger areas.

Another way to personalize your study plan is to adapt it to your unique schedule. Everyone’s lives are a little different, even when a group of people are all going through the same classes together.

Stay flexible. On some weeks, you might be able to devote more time to studying, while other weeks may be busier with other commitments. Do what works best for you and try to make the best use of the time you have.

6. Prioritize Coursework Materials

The bulk of your focus will be on your coursework materials. As you work through the materials, it’s important to be aware of how the nursing theories and concepts apply to real-life situations.

The NCLEX doesn’t just test rote memorization; there is actually a much greater emphasis on your ability to make appropriate clinical judgments based on various patient situations.

At Northeastern, our online coursework materials consist of:

  • Audiovisual and written lecture materials
  • 3D graphical representations of concepts
  • Simulated learning activities
  • Discussion forums
  • Chat sessions with instructors

You can read or watch lectures and complete learning activities as many times as you need to master the material.

northeastern student studying on laptop

7. Seek Out Supplemental Resources

Although the coursework material will command much of your focus, it can also be a wise idea to look for supplemental resources elsewhere. For example, if you find yourself struggling — either with a content area or with something more fundamental, like time management and study habits — you can schedule an appointment with faculty to discuss some tips.

You can find other supplemental resources online. The Internet is full of video tutorials, podcasts, practice nursing questions, nursing-related apps and study guides. These supplemental resources can help you learn how to succeed in nursing school.

8. Maintain Healthy Habits

You became a nursing student to help other people care for their health, but it’s also important to care for your own health. It wouldn’t do to sacrifice your wellness in pursuit of your career aims. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that “healthy students are better learners,” and this holds true regardless of age.

Nurture your overall health — body and mind — by prioritizing healthy habits such as:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Making healthy food choices
  • Exercising regularly (Try HIIT circuits for less time-consuming yet impactful workouts.)
  • Limiting your intake of caffeine and limiting or avoiding alcohol
  • Practicing good stress management
Northeastern nursing student in sim lab

9. Set Aside Time for Decompressing

Nursing school is tough, even when you follow these nursing student tips. It’s important to set aside some time for mentally decompressing.

Schedule some short “me time” each day to do something you love, such as reading a novel or talking to a friend. Once per week, set aside a larger chunk of time on a less hectic day to do something fun. Scheduling time for decompressing can help you reduce the risk of nursing school burnout.

10. Remember Why You’re in Nursing School

Lastly, when times get tough, it can be helpful to remember why you decided to enroll in nursing school. Chances are, you wanted to become a nurse to help other people, and perhaps the strong job prospects and salary potential were attractive, as well. Stay motivated by remembering your end goal.

Northeastern nursing writing on whiteboard

Nursing school isn’t the only challenge you’ll face. Get our top 8 NCLEX tips here.

How to Be Successful in Nursing School at Northeastern

The secret to success lies in the philosophy of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. We believe that hands-on experiences are an integral part of the learning process, which means our nursing students graduate fully prepared to tackle modern challenges in healthcare.

Ready to be successful at Northeastern? Contact admissions counselors today and discover if you’re eligible to graduate with a BSN in as few as 16 months.

Get Your Free ABSN Program Guide

Our ABSN program guide includes everything you need to know about the accelerated path to nursing.

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