These 11 nursing school study tips will help get you ahead in an accelerated nursing program. Study strategies include staying on track, studying with peers, outlining your notes, making flashcards, not jumping ahead, connecting with instructors, asking questions, staying organized, eliminating distractions, taking study breaks, and remembering a balanced life.
As you prepare for accelerated nursing school, you may be curious how you can succeed in such an intense program. After all, nursing is known for being difficult academically, and for good reason — you’ll be caring for people’s lives. Knowing that nursing school will take hard work, what nursing school study tips will help you succeed?
Northeastern University is committed to preparing our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) students to be leaders in the field. Our students complete a hybrid curriculum, consisting of online classes, skills and simulations labs, and clinical rotations.
In a rigorous ABSN program, having effective study strategies is key. These 11 nursing school study tips 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. One of the most important nursing school study tips is to create a schedule. Keeping a day planner up to date with important items such as exam dates, assignment due dates, appointments and special events assures 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.
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2. 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. Make a regular group study session with likeminded peers. Compare notes, study together, and practice together in the simulation lab.
Creating bonds with other students in nursing school will not only improve your experience but your performance as well.
3. Outline Your Notes
Each person has their own way of taking notes, but studies show 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 book. Instead, when studying for your online classes in the ABSN program, 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.
4. 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 apps like Anki that allow you to create online equivalents for studying on your mobile device.
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!
5. Don’t Work Ahead (Yet)
If you’re new to nursing school, we recommend tackling your lectures and assignments as they are due instead of 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.
6. 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.
7. Ask Questions
One of the most important nursing program study tips is to ask questions. Don’t hesitate to ask about any 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.
It’s important to ask your questions early, during online classes, labs, and clinicals. The nursing curriculum builds on itself, so asking questions as soon as they come up will help you be proactive and stay on track with the material.
8. Organize, Organize, Organize
Keep your materials like assignments, notes, study materials, and graded exams in a room or space that is 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 clinical supplies such as your stethoscope and penlight together in a bag or box so you don’t misplace or damage them.
Why is clinical experience important in nursing school? See how clinical rotations play a key role in your education.
9. Avoid 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 your attention to the lessons. Small coffee shops, libraries, book stores, quiet restaurants, and the outdoors can offer great study spaces.
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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 help you stay engaged and avoid back pain.
10. Take Study Breaks
A key contributor to your success during accelerated nursing school is focus. You’ll need to study hard for 16 months. There will be many long days of studying, and you’ll be best able to handle these intense times if you take breaks.
For example, studying eight hours straight is not ideal, as it can cause burnout. Rather, breaking up those eight hours into smaller sessions with a short break every hour or two will help you stay fresh. Even getting up to stretch your legs or prepare a snack can be a good way to reframe your mind and give you the mental break you need to jump back into studying. Therefore, build short breaks into your schedule, and incorporate them every day as part of your optimal study routine.
11. Live a Balanced Life
While studying will be your main focus during an accelerated BSN program, one of the study tips for nursing school that is often overlooked is remembering to prioritize your wellness. When you are physically, mentally, and emotionally well, you will do better in nursing school. Being healthy in all aspects of your life will reduce stress and help you remain in a learning frame of mind.
A few things you can do to promote a balanced life include:
- Eat a healthy diet: Focus on eating vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Get enough sleep: Aim for seven to eight hours per night. This will help you retain information and stay engaged in your studies.
- Stay connected: Schedule time to regularly talk with loved ones, such as family or friends. Your support system can help you manage stress and stay motivated during challenging times.
- Exercise: Regular exercise does wonders for your health and mental state. Schedule time to exercise a few times each week. If you can exercise outdoors, that’s even better, as getting time in the sunshine will give you much-needed vitamin D.
- See your provider: During school, make time to visit your regular providers: primary care physician, dentist, mental health therapist, etc. Your health comes first.
With all the hard work it takes to succeed, is nursing school worth it? See seven reasons an ABSN is worthwhile.
Get Started with Nursing at Northeastern
Now that you know these nursing school study tips, it’s time to take steps to start your degree. If you haven’t applied yet, the ABSN program at Northeastern will give you a high-quality education in as few as 16 months. We offer three start dates per year — in January, May, and September — at our locations near Boston, MA, and in Charlotte, NC. If you have at least 62 non-nursing college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible to apply to the ABSN program.
To learn more about how to earn your BSN at Northeastern, fill out our online form to get in touch with our admissions counselors. It’s time to make the move and start your new nursing career!