How to Study in Nursing School: 10 Tips for Success

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It’s important to know how to study in nursing school before you begin the program. Some effective nursing student tips include setting up a distraction-free study space, using spaced repetition, using active studying techniques, reviewing material before each class and forming a study group.

student studying in library

Accelerated nursing school is certainly a challenge, but it’s a doable one. With a comprehensive curriculum and hands-on skills to learn, it’s no surprise that nursing students are some of the hardest-working students out there. If you’re on the path to becoming a nurse, you may be wondering how to be successful in nursing school. What are the tried-and-true nursing school tips for success?

Felician University’s 16-month Hybrid Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program and 18-month On-Ground ABSN program in New Jersey have guided countless students through the journey of earning a BSN. We are well-versed in helping students overcome hurdles and graduate ready to take on a nursing career.

We’ve compiled these top 10 nursing student tips that focus on how to study in nursing school so you can prepare for success. If you have a passion for patient care and a hearty amount of grit, you can achieve your goal of becoming an RN.

nurse with manikin

What is an accelerated nursing program? Read more to learn whether an accelerated nursing program is right for you.

1. Create a Distraction-Free Study Space

Before you start scribbling notes and creating study schedules, follow the first of these nursing student tips and take some time to create a productive study space. Every student’s study space can be a little different, reflecting their unique needs, preferences and aesthetic sense. However, they all need to have at least one thing in common: as few distractions as possible.

Your study space could be a corner in your bedroom, a home office or even a nook in an attic, as long as it’s a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted frequently. If space is limited and you must study in a heavily trafficked area of your home, try to orient yourself to face a wall and use noise-canceling headphones.

Your study space should also offer:

  • Comfort: Comfort isn’t the enemy of productivity. Use a comfortable chair and add touches that appeal to you, like a potted plant and framed pictures of your loved ones.
  • Good lighting: Natural light is best, but it’s likely you’ll also be burning the midnight oil as a busy nursing student. Ensure your space is well-lit to minimize eye strain.
  • Supplies: Keep all the supplies you need close at hand. These might include extra pens, highlighters, notepads and index cards.
Felician nurse holding laptop

2. Create a Schedule

The key to success is effective planning and organization. Specifically, create a schedule to stay on track with your work. Indicate when you’ll study and attend labs, clinicals, study groups and exams. Add your assignment deadlines to your schedule.

When planning your study time, form a consistent routine. Try to maintain the same wake-up time, bedtime and mealtimes each day. This consistency will help you settle into a healthy routine for managing school.

Some students use a digital calendar, some use a handwritten planner and others use a mix of both. Find a system that works for you. With an accelerated BSN program like ours, you’ll need to juggle your classwork, skills and simulation labs and clinical placements; keeping track of everything will take substantial organization.

Looking for more ways to get ready to succeed? Check out these 8 strategies for preparing for nursing school.

Felician ABSN student holding laptop

3. How to Study in Nursing School with Study Buddies

One of the most common strategies of successful accelerated nursing students is group studying. In an ABSN program, you will focus on independent learning with your online or on-ground coursework. However, many students find it helpful to collaborate with a group of like-minded students.

Find a few students in your cohort who are committed to working hard. Plan to meet in person or by video chat at predetermined times to review material, clarify questions and quiz each other.

Many students find that having a consistent study group helps them understand course material better and keeps them accountable when finishing assignments and preparing for exams.

Lastly, connecting with peers throughout the stress of nursing school can support your mental health. Your cohort members can relate to your unique situation, offering support and encouragement as you progress through the program.

4. Tailor Your Learning Strategies

Another one of the key nursing school tips for success is to optimize your learning methods. In an accelerated program, efficiency is vital. You have limited time and a lot to learn, so finding the best strategies for absorbing and retaining information will help you learn faster.

Below are a few ways you can improve your learning strategy:

  • Focus on active learning, not passive learning. For example, teaching a concept to a study session partner or answering practice questions are active strategies, whereas reading a textbook is passive.
  • Use spaced repetition to help with long-term retention. For example, after learning a concept, review it again one day later, then two days later, then four and so on, gradually increasing the time between reviews. Download the Anki flashcard app to create digital flashcards for spaced repetition.
  • Create outlines of the information you need to know for each exam.
  • Listen to relevant podcasts and tutorials while exercising, preparing meals or doing other passive activities.
Felician ABSN student sitting and using laptop

The main thing to remember is to keep your learning method fluid, especially at the beginning of nursing school. Try new strategies and tweak things along the way, paying attention to what works best for you. Cut out what doesn’t work and focus on what does. After a few months of refining your studying, you’ll settle on a plan that you can use throughout nursing school.

5. How to Be Successful in Nursing School by Asking Questions

As a nursing student, you will surely have countless questions. You might be unsure of how to put in an IV, how to recognize the symptoms of heart disease or how best to study for an upcoming exam, for example.

Know that your instructors at Felician are here to help. They look forward to talking with students and helping them succeed. After all, that’s why they chose to become educators.

Our ABSN students can access instructor support through video office hours, email and discussion posts. It’s always in your best interest to ask questions early. That’s because the nursing curriculum is cumulative, building upon everything you’ve learned before. Therefore, get your questions answered early to avoid gaps in your knowledge moving forward.

6. Give Your Brain Enough Quality Sleep

Getting enough sleep can be a struggle for busy nursing students, yet it’s one of the best ways to both protect your overall health and support your academic success. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, yet over half of college students get fewer than seven hours each night. Prioritizing sleep can support better:

  • Productivity
  • Concentration
  • Attention to detail
  • Memory retention
  • Stress management

If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep while working through an ABSN program, try these tips:

  • Follow a consistent sleep/wake schedule, regardless of whether it’s a school day or a weekend.
  • Get outdoors for some sunshine every day (it affects your circadian rhythm).
  • Follow a consistent “wind-down” routine before bedtime that doesn’t involve screen time.
  • Get regular exercise, but not too close to bedtime.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol.

7. Reserve Time for Breaks

Felician nursing student working with sim manikin in lab

While studying is essential for your nursing school success, taking time to decompress and process what you’ve learned is also important. Every day, set aside a little time for yourself. Prioritize the activities that mean the most to you, whether that’s playing with your kids, going for a bike ride, reading for fun or visiting a friend.

Making time for these activities will help you stay grounded. It will help you avoid excess stress when you feel like studying is consuming your life. It’s all about balance. Your brain has the ability to learn massive amounts of information, but even so, it needs time to process and organize that information. On top of that, you need the mental and emotional space to breathe between tough study sessions.

8. Take Care of Yourself

Along those lines, while it’s important to focus on how to be successful in nursing school through smart study habits, it’s also important to prioritize your overall health and wellness. The body and mind are closely linked. If your physical health suffers, you may find it more difficult to focus on your studying. Take care of yourself by:

  • Spending time outside every day
  • Eating healthy foods and following a well-balanced diet
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Exercising regularly
  • Staying current on preventive health and dental visits
  • Seeking mental health therapy as needed

9. Review Material Before and After Class

You may notice that tips on how to study in nursing school don’t generally recommend doing marathon study sessions. It’s actually more effective to study in shorter bursts (see the spaced repetition tip in point #4 above).

One way to work more “study bursts” into your daily schedule is to get into the habit of reviewing material before and after each class, whether you’re an on-ground or hybrid student.

About 15 to 20 minutes before each class begins, review your notes and other materials from the previous class. After each class, spend about the same amount of time going over the lesson plan from that class. This may help reinforce the concepts in your memory. Be sure to write down any questions as they occur to you so you can follow up with your instructors.

Felician nursing student standing by dry erase board

10. Use Study Guides and Supplemental Materials

Your instructors will provide you with much of what you need to know to pass your school exams and the NCLEX-RN. However, it can be useful to look beyond class materials.

There are loads of study guides and other supplemental materials available online — both free and for-fee. You can also find video and podcast tutorials and discussions of nursing concepts. When working on memorizing a concept, such as the signs of ketoacidosis, for example, consider looking for supplemental materials online to support your comprehension.

Begin Your Journey Toward Becoming a Nurse

As you can see from these nursing school tips for success, success in nursing school is definitely achievable if you’re willing to work hard. It’ll all be worth it in the end, as becoming a nurse can allow you to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people in your community.

Felician University’s accelerated BSN program offers both a 16-month hybrid ABSN with three start dates yearly and an 18-month on-ground ABSN with one start date per year. Either option will prepare you with the skills and knowledge to become a practice-ready nurse upon passing the NCLEX.

Through a combination of coursework, nursing labs and clinical placements, you’ll develop nursing skills in adaptable and interactive ways. To learn more about your eligibility for the ABSN program, contact our admissions counselors.