When it comes to excelling in nursing school there are a number of tried and true strategies everyone can take to help them get good grades and pass their classes.
While it may not always be easy for students to find the time to study, take excellent notes and work with a tutor or study group on a regular basis it may be vital to your success as a nursing student.
In many cases we know what we need to do to succeed, but we don’t always feel like we have the time to do what is necessary, however when it comes to succeeding in nursing school those who are passionate about becoming a registered nurse may have to buckle up and make time for themselves so that they can achieve their goals and become the RN’s they want to be.
Some of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for success in the classroom includes learning how to study better, use your time wisely, take excellent notes from your lectures and classroom studies, join a study group, get a tutor and choose the teachers that match your personality and learning style.
Not all study methods are created equal and some study material is easier to learn and consume in different formats than others.
For example you may find it easier to study anatomy using a computer or tablet that allows you to manipulate the human body and study it in a 3D environment than if you were to study anatomy from a book or anatomical model.
Likewise you may be able to better retain information from interactive video lessons than relying on a textbook.
In many cases being able to have some type of direct interaction or feedback with the material you study can help you better identify, learn and study your material.
Each individual learns things in a different way, so it is important for you to determine whether you’re a visual, auditory, kinesthetic or combination learner and whether or not certain ways of learning a specific topic are easier than others for you.
In addition to text book material, lectures and audio lessons you can use video, flashcards, anatomical models, 3D models, interactive audio/video computer lessons, virtual tutors, science labs and a number of other study formats to maximize your ability to learn and master your material.
Once you identify your study style you may come to find out that the way you study your material is different than the way your teacher teaches the material.
If that is the case it becomes even more important that you set aside adequate study time to ensure that you can learn the material on your own and in a way that best suits your learning style.
Tip: Use your commute time to listen to audio notes you’ve created and/or class audio lectures. If you find yourself commuting 30 – 60 minutes a day or more then popping on some headphones while you take the bus/train or plugging your phone or audio player into your cars AUX while you drive and listening to your recordings could be highly beneficial.
Provide yourself with adequate study time
One of the biggest mistakes nursing students make when it comes to getting good grades is underestimating the amount of study time that is required to truly understand the class topics they need to learn.
Depending on the class you are participating in you may need to study several additional hours for every hour of class you attend.
Some instructors may recommend that you study four hours for every hour of classroom lecture time.
The amount of time you need to put aside will depend on what you are studying, how much you already know about the topic and what your teacher expects from you on your upcoming exam or classroom lecture.
The more classes you choose to take during your nursing program (ie: part-time or full-time schedule) the more time you will need to put aside to learn the material.
In nursing school how well you study will often determine how well you perform and a last minute study cram will not benefit you when a big exam comes up and you haven’t adequately prepared for it, so make sure you set aside an adequate amount of study time to learn and master your topic.
Also make sure you don’t waste hours studying material you already know as you’ll be wasting a lot of time when you should be studying the material you are struggling with or need to learn.
While it is definitely true that some nurses work full-time jobs while attending nursing school it is also true that studying is vital to success and cannot be ignored.
If you truly want to become a registered nurse than you have to understand that your current job is temporary and nursing is a long term career choice, so put the effort you need into doing well in school.
Learn to take good notes
Good note taking is essential for helping you perform well in class.
During lectures good note taking will help you identify the areas of study that your teacher wants you to learn and may give you hints as to what the teacher plans to have on your exams.
It also help you retain the information you are learning and forces your mind to pay attention to the information being presented to you.
If you’ve ever listened to a long conversation or lecture and can’t remember anything about it the moment it ends you’ll appreciate the importance of good note taking and how it not only helps you pay attention but also improve your ability to retain the information you’ve learned.
Good note taking makes it easier for you to study later on your own and remember answers that may be presented on your test.
Once you’ve written down your notes use them to make test questions and study flashcards in order to further improve your retention.
Join a study group
While this isn’t for everyone some students work well in groups and can use their collective knowledge to help each other study and learn.
If you decide to join a group make sure they are just as dedicated to studying as you are.
A good study group can help you see answers to problems that you may not have noticed, will use their collective knowledge to create better study notes and will bring their individual expertise to the group in order to improve everyone else’s learning experience.
If you are having difficulty with a particular topic that someone else in the group is a wiz at then being able to get constructive feedback and figuring out how they study for the topic may be highly beneficial.
The group can also help one another by quizzing each other and comparing notes.
On the other hand not everyone does well in a study group and the wrong type of study group may turn more into a social group than one that’s dedicated to learning and improving, so it is important to quickly determine whether or not the group you join is serious or not and just as quickly decide whether not you should be part of the group.
Get a tutor
If a study group isn’t for you or if you need additional one on one time then a tutor can be equally effective.
A good tutor will not only be able to help you study for class, but will also be able to teach you specific study and memorization strategies you can use to better retain and understand the topics you are studying.
A good tutor will be able to take a complex topic and break it down into easily understanding parts that you should have no trouble comprehending.
Most importantly a good tutor will provide you with direct feedback and is able to guide you in the right direction and identify where you are struggling in your education so that you can quickly improve yourself and your ability to perform well in school.
If your college or university offers free or discounted tutoring it may be well worth the effort to think about using a tutor.
Better yet if there is a tutor available that happened to do really well in the same class you’re taking with the same professor you may be able to use their knowledge to your advantage so that you can achieve the same grade level and/or experience they did when they took the class.
Choose your teachers wisely
It goes without saying that choosing your teacher wisely can make a big difference in how well you perform in class.
Different teachers use different strategies to teach, grade and help their students study and perform well in the classroom.
Finding a teacher that matches your personality and learning style can go a long way towards helping you succeed in nursing school.
If you have the ability to choose from more than one teacher than you should use it to your advantage.
Ask other students who have taken the class how the teachers training style is and what the teacher expects from their students.
Talk to your guidance counselor in order to find a teacher that works well with the way you learn and use the online resources available on your schools campus or website as well as other websites such as ratemyprofessor.com to find a teacher that suits your personality and style.
By matching your skills and study style with the right professors you can give yourself a good boost towards succeeding in nursing school.
Know what your teachers expect of you
When it comes to doing well in any class it’s important to know who your teachers are and what they expect of you.
You may be able to learn more about how your teacher wants you to present your papers and what they are looking for by asking them directly.
Talk to your teacher and ask them what they look for in their students work.
Identify how they want students to complete their projects and write their reports and ask the teacher what they look for when grading their papers.
If they have examples of their favorite report papers available ask them if you can look at the papers or study them.
Talk to prior students who performed extremely well in the class and ask them how they approached tackling the lessons their teacher gave them.
Some teachers prefer specific facts and references while others may be more compelled to study information that has an interesting narrative.
Other teachers may want to see your step by step approach for arriving at your answers or be given the specific formula you used to solve for X.
Every teacher has their own personality and the way they approach problem solving and expect their students to can be very different depending on who your teacher is.
Even if there are several teachers teaching the same course they may approach the course in different ways so make sure you understanding what your teacher wants and what his or her personality is.
Use summer and winter breaks wisely
I know this is probably not what you want to hear but it is up to you to take advantage of whatever choices you have in order to make sure that you succeed in nursing school.
This includes using your summer and winter breaks wisely.
During these breaks you can choose to take advantage of any additional training and study material your college or university offers.
You can also look at the classes you will be taking next semester and see if the teachers have any audio/video lectures, study guides, study notes and other material that they offer which you can use to study in advance so that you can take advantage of the time that you have.
Maybe you can find a tutor that has taken the class you will be taking next semester and he/she can help you prepare or at least find a study strategy that will make the semester easier for you once it begins.
As stated earlier you can use this time to look for a teacher that matches your learning style so that your transition into the class will be that much easier.
Lastly, use this time to help you retain what you’ve already learned as you may need to rely on last semesters training to help you with next semesters classwork.