11 Study Tips for Nursing Students

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Do you have questions about how to study for nursing school? It is possible to form helpful and sustainable study habits throughout your time in NDMU’s ABSN program. Here are some study tips for nursing students to help you succeed in your classes and beyond.

nursing student studying

The Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Notre Dame of Maryland University is rigorous and requires strong study habits. Many students are taken aback by the amount of studying needed for an accelerated nursing program, as the intensive curriculum differs from anything they have experienced in a traditional academic setting. If you are wondering how to study for nursing school, don’t worry. At NDMU, we prioritize your success as a student enrolled in our program. Here are some study tips for nursing students to help form the positive and sustainable study habits needed to succeed.

1. Know Your Learning Style

Everyone learns differently, and to study in a way that doesn’t work for you is simply counterproductive. If you are a visual learner, find ways to study using visuals such as diagrams, photos, and videos of nursing scenarios. If you are auditory, listen to the lecture again and take notes. If you are a tactile learner, try writing out medical terms and their definitions by hand. Find what methods work best for you and develop a routine using those methods.

The ABSN program coursework is specifically designed to accommodate different learning styles. The online modality allows students of all types to learn effectively through visual representation, recorded lectures, and applying this knowledge in a practical setting during labs and clinicals.

2. Read the Syllabus

A common mistake many nursing students make is disregarding the syllabus as useless information. This could not be further from the truth. Your course syllabus will help you plan, prioritize exams, and pace yourself throughout the semester. For example, you may have an important exam several weeks out, but you are stressed about small quizzes that fall over the next week. Reading the syllabus will help you plan and study for the appropriate time and pace yourself as the exam approaches.

NDMU nursing student taking notes from computer

3. Build Community with Your Cohort

Your cohort will be one of the best resources you can utilize in the nursing program. You will take the same classes and graduate together, completing sim labs and clinical rotations as a team. Take advantage of this great resource and start building relationships with people in your cohort. This is a great way to form study groups and keep each other accountable. Cohorts are important to your success and will develop your teamwork skills for the future.

4. Keep a Study Schedule

During nursing school, you will need to study quite a lot. You will not only commit information to memory for exams but for the rest of your career. Choose how many hours per day you want to study and commit to that. Create a plan for your semester based on your exam schedule so you can pace yourself. Start studying early to store the information in your long-term memory and avoid stress when recalling it for the test.

Nurse in blue scrubs holding clipboard

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5. Repetition is Key

While different study techniques work for different people, the spacing repetition study technique has been shown to improve the effectiveness of study time across the board. This involves repeatedly studying the same information and spreading the repetitions over time. This will help solidify the information in your memory and make it easier to recall later. Just make sure not to overdo it. Study until you feel comfortable with the material.

6. Use Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are methods of putting things to memory that might be difficult to remember otherwise. Studies have shown that mnemonic devices can help with memory and information retention in students. In nursing, mnemonic devices are used quite frequently in the form of acronyms. An example is MOAN, which is used to remember the treatment process for a heart attack. MOAN breaks down into morphine, oxygen, aspirin, and nitrates. This is one of numerous examples. Seek these mnemonics out and make your own while studying. They might help you with a tricky test question or even during your clinicals.

7. Use Your Study Guides

In your classes, you will often receive study guides for your exams. This will vary depending on the instructor, but use them if they are provided. Professors often model study guide question styles from the test or use similar questions. This way, you can become comfortable with the test format and focus on answering the questions. Make sure not to depend entirely on the study guides, though. They are a helpful tool but not meant to be used as your only study technique. Give equal attention to the information not found in the study guide.

Nursing student sitting at desk working on computer

8. Avoid Cramming

It is not a secret that cramming is a highly ineffective way to study, but it is still something that many nursing students may habitually fall into. Cramming may have worked for you in the past, but it likely just helped you pass the tests. In this case, cramming is still oriented toward the test rather than retaining the knowledge you can apply to your clinical experiences and career as a nurse. Studying ahead of time will improve your performance and transfer to your nursing practice.

9. Don’t Forget Your Basics

As the nursing program progresses, you will learn more and more specific material. This is important to know for your career as a nurse, but equally important is getting back to basics. When it’s time to study for the NCLEX-RN®, you must recall information from your earlier semesters. Everything you learn in nursing school is built on a foundation, so make sure your foundational knowledge is solid.

10. Stay Positive

Studying is hard. There is no way around it. But with a positive outlook, it doesn’t have to drag you down. While 15 months is a comparatively short time for nursing school, it is too long to go without positivity. As you are studying, keep your goals in mind. Remind yourself why you are working so hard, and celebrate your achievements as you go. This will help you stay motivated and make your study time more sustainable throughout the program.

NDMU nursing student wearing stethoscope

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11. Remember to Rest

It can be easy to overwork yourself, especially during finals week when academic pressure is at an all-time high. Studying too much can harm your chances of success since it often means sacrificing sleep, nutrition, and social time. Don’t forget that you need to rest. Taking incremental breaks can help you study longer and retain information more effectively. Try going on a walk to give your eyes a rest. Make yourself a nutritious snack to help your brain and body stay fueled. Don’t forget that to succeed in nursing school, you must keep your own mind healthy.

How Notre Dame of Maryland University Can Help

At NDMU, you will have support every step of the way. Whether this means providing direction during admission or helping with these nursing school study tips for your time in the program, you will be championed until you graduate from our 15-month ABSN program.

Now that you know more about study tips for nursing students, it’s time to take the plunge. Contact our admissions team today to learn more.