10 Nursing School Study Tips

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Nursing school is notoriously challenging, so how do you increase your chances of success? This is an excellent question. Being proactive about your education route will benefit you. We will share a few proven nursing school study tips to set you on the right path.

nursing student sitting and reading

Especially in an accelerated nursing program like Pacific Lutheran University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, understanding how to study for nursing school will greatly help you. So, here are 10 nursing school study tips you can incorporate to optimize your study routine.

1. Ask Questions Openly

Nursing school will stretch you out of your comfort zone, and you will not always know the answers. You will have to learn the complex field of health care, which will take time and effort. Realize that it is natural to have questions and need clarification. Have no shame about this, and be humble as a learner. Be sure to ask your instructors or peers questions whenever they arise. By clarifying these questions early, you will be able to move forward confidently with a clear mind.

nurse with stethoscope helping child patient

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2. Collaborate with Peers

Many nursing students say they succeeded in nursing school primarily because of their peer study groups. While group studying is not for everyone, it is valuable for many learners. Try forming a study group with a few like-minded peers in your cohort.

You can gather weekly and spend time reviewing material, asking questions and quizzing each other. Also, use this group to stay on track with deadlines. Check in with each other and ensure each person is staying up to date with their assignments and learning. Employing the buddy system can make nursing school more manageable, not to mention more enjoyable.

3. Experiment with Study Strategies

Another key nursing school study tip is to try several different study methods to see what works best for you. Experiment with strategies such as outlining your notes, completing daily practice questions or making flashcards. After trying each strategy, determine which resonated most with you, and stick with those in the future.

nurse in scrubs working with IV

Because accelerated nursing school is so rigorous, you will need to refine and optimize your studying to be as efficient and effective as possible. Try to choose strategies that align well with your natural learning style (visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinesthetic).

4. Focus on Active Learning

In addition to choosing learning methods that align with your learning style, another nursing school study tip is to incorporate active study strategies as much as possible. Active studying can include the following:

  • Completing practice questions.
  • Working through flashcards with a partner.
  • Making an outline while you read.

On the other hand, passive learning methods like reading or listening tend not to be as effective for long-term retention. Thus, add an active component whenever possible, such as taking notes while reading or watching a video.

5. Make a Daily Study Schedule

One of the most important nursing school study tips you should employ is creating a schedule. During the accelerated nursing program, you will have numerous responsibilities, from completing assignments and studying for exams to attending labs and clinicals. Remembering all your required activities can be difficult, so making a schedule can take some of that off your plate. By recording your daily responsibilities, you can focus more on your studies.

Additionally, successful students find it helpful to add individual and group study time, study breaks, assignment deadlines and even exercise to their daily schedule. Compiling these activities into one place helps keep you accountable and organized daily, increasing your studying efficiency.

smiling nurse with backpack walking up stairs

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6. Stay Ahead

Because you can complete the ABSN program at PLU in as few as 16 months, information will come to you fast. You will be responsible for learning a lot every week, so prioritize staying up to date on the material. Falling behind will only make the next week more challenging.

Staying on track is easier when you have good systems in place, including a comprehensive schedule and a consistent daily study routine. You can even try finding a classmate who can be your accountability buddy. Check in with each other weekly about how you are progressing.

7. Optimize Your Downtime

During nursing school, most of your studying will take place during your designated study times. However, you can increase your efficiency by studying whenever you have a few spare minutes. For example, bring your flashcards or outlines with you wherever you go, and if you have to wait in line for a few minutes or wait for an appointment, you can use that time to study. Additionally, use your time in the car to listen to relevant podcasts or audio material that will supplement what you are learning in school.

8. Make Connections to Experiential Learning

Accelerated nursing school is not composed only of online coursework but also of nursing labs and clinical rotations. What you learn in your coursework directly connects to your lab and clinical experiences. One way to cement your knowledge and skills is by tying the content you learn in your coursework to what you see in the lab and clinic.

Pacific Lutheran University nursing student working with lab equipment

For example, caring for a patient with COPD during your clinical rotations will help you better remember the symptoms and treatment plan for COPD when preparing you for exams. Similarly, practicing responding to a heart attack during a simulation lab will make it easier to remember how to approach relevant exam questions.

9. Take Study Breaks

Even the most focused students should add regular study breaks into their schedules. Using breaks to refresh during long study sessions is one of the most overlooked study tips for nursing students. Taking short breaks keeps you motivated and at the top of your game.

Try varying intervals to see what works best for you, whether that is 15 minutes every two hours, five minutes every hour or something else. Give yourself enough time to go for a brief walk, get a snack or listen to music. Take that break to reset your mind and prepare for the next study session.

10. Prioritize Your Health and Wellness

During the accelerated nursing program, you will most need to focus on school. Every day will center around your studies, but remember to take care of yourself. You cannot be a great nurse if you are not physically and emotionally well, so prioritize your wellness.

Wellness may mean exercising a few times each week, meeting your friend weekly for coffee, meeting with your counselor regularly and so on. Carve out a little time to ensure you stay well and feel fulfilled outside nursing school.

Additionally, prioritizing your health includes keeping nutritious food in your home, drinking plenty of water and attending regular appointments with your doctor.

Earn Your BSN at Pacific Lutheran!

Now that you know the best study tips for nursing school, you have confidence that it is possible to excel in PLU’s ABSN program and earn a nursing degree in as few as 16 months. Plus, our faculty will be with you every step of the way, answering questions, offering guidance and encouraging you.

Pacific Lutheran University ABSN students looking at hospital equipment

Follow these steps to become a nurse, starting with earning your BSN.

The ABSN program, based near Seattle, Washington, offers three yearly start dates, meaning you can start and finish sooner. If you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible to enroll.

Reach out to an admission counselor today to see if PLU is the place for you to start your path to a nursing career.