If you’re looking to enter nursing school or are already in the middle of your nursing education, you know it can be an intensive, demanding academic process.
Balancing nursing school alongside your personal responsibilities can seem overwhelming. On this page, we provide some tips on how to study for nursing school to help make your educational experience more fulfilling and less stressful
Tips for Nursing School
You can pursue several pathways to become a registered nurse (RN): a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, an associate degree or a diploma from a nursing program.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most programs require courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, psychology and social and behavioral classes. A BSN degree usually takes up to four years to earn, whereas an associate in nursing or a diploma can take anywhere from two to three years.
After graduating from nursing school, you must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and complete any state-specific requirements before earning licensure to become an RN.
Whichever educational path you decide to take, learning good study habits can help make your course load more manageable.
Make a Schedule
Start your schedule by breaking down your weekly tasks and assignments. Don’t forget to add class schedules, study times, breaks and other personal or work-related commitments. Doing so will help you allocate your time between school and personal life.
Know Your Learning Style
Understanding your learning style can help you adjust how you study. In general, there are four main types of learners:
- Visual learners process information through visual aids, such as graphs, charts, maps and videos. They best learn when visuals are used to inform and compare ideas.
- Auditory learners intake information through auditory channels, both listening and speaking. Group discussions and presentations help these learners understand and retain information.
- Reading/writing learners learn best with information shared through the written word. Using textbooks and other reading supplements and taking notes can help these learners retain information.
- Kinesthetic learners understand best through hands-on activities. Learning that requires practice and replication of experiments will help these individuals understand and retain their studies.
That said, studies show that learning styles can also be specific to the material you are learning. For instance, if you are studying something like anatomy, you may learn best with visual aids.
Set Academic Goals
A helpful way to keep track of your academic progress in your nursing program is to set educational goals at the start of the semester or quarter.
Consider writing out long- and short-term goals for your academic journey. These goals should be attainable and trackable, with a clear idea of what it would look like to accomplish them. Keep this list close and check it periodically to track your progress.
Make a Study Group
Many studies have shown that studying in groups can benefit information intake and retention. Learning in groups can help with accountability and camaraderie. Group studying also helps create a structured schedule to help you and your classmates stay on track. Students learning in groups also teach each other concepts, which has been shown to help with comprehension and critical thinking.
The best way to start a study group is to do so early in the semester with a small group of three to seven classmates. Decide on a time and location to meet, plan what you will study during each session and hold each other accountable to stick to the plan.
Know When to Take a Break
As important as studying is, it is equally essential to understand when to take a break. Make sure to take time for breaks in between studying. Studies have shown that taking breaks can help with learning new skills. A break can be as simple as taking a walk, taking a 15-minute nap or stretching.
Remember Self Care
Even though acts of self care can seem deceivingly simple, these are essential steps to having a successful journey in nursing school.
When you are in the middle of a busy and stressful semester, taking care of your mental and physical health can seem like a low priority. However, exercising, drinking water, sleeping or making a healthy snack can help your body and mind to rest and recuperate.
Your mental, emotional and physical health should always be a priority, no matter how busy the semester is.
Spread Out Study Times
Research shows that the more you are able to spread out your study sessions, the better and longer you will retain information. For example, if you have 10 hours’ worth of studying to do, try to break up your studying into shorter sessions in the weeks leading up to the test, rather than cramming in 10 hours of studying at once.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Nursing School
How do I become an RN?
To become an RN, you must complete an associate, bachelor’s or diploma in nursing. In addition, you must also pass the NCLEX-RN and any state-specified requirements.
How long does it take to become an RN?
Depending on the program you choose, it can take anywhere from two to four years to complete your education in nursing.
How much does an RN make?
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for an RN is $77,600.
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