Tips for Studying in Nursing School

by | Feb 26, 2023 | Nursing Student | 0 comments

Articles contain affiliate links. For more information on affiliate links, click here.

You know that a nursing career is very stressful, and nursing school is also challenging. The only way to achieve success in a nursing program is to learn how to study as effectively as possible with time management. Let’s look at some tips for studying in nursing school and pass those nursing school exams.

Because they have a lot of responsibilities like homework, clinical hours, working, and taking care of their families. So how can you manage your time to get the most effective studying done? Well, don’t worry. Today, I will share a few steps and tips with you that you can use to get A+ results.

Articles contain affiliate links. For more information on affiliate links, click here

Tips for Studying in Nursing School

Pre-Game For Your Nursing School Studying

Before sharing the tips with you, I want you to do something before. If you’re going to get better at studying, I want you to be organized, focused, and deliberate. Because this way you would be able to get better control of your time and studying habits.

Get Organized

At the beginning of every semester, make sure to take a look at the syllabi from your teacher. Then, put all of the deadlines on your calendar. It can be on a mobile, laptop, or a physical calendar – just something that you physically look at daily.

This way, you can see the calendar and schedule your study time appropriately. The benefit of this is that it gives you a bird’s-eye view of what is due and it will help you avoid last-minute cramming and stress. You won’t have to worry about a surprise deadline or rely on the professor to remind you about due dates.

Organize your digital and physical study materials so that when it’s time to sit down and study, you’re not wasting time searching for it.

Get Your Game Face On

Next, I want you to focus. When I say focus, I mean eliminate all the distractions. Close TikTok, HBO Max, and YouTube. Study for 20 minutes, then give yourself a break. These short but highly-focused sessions are much more effective than reading on autopilot for 4 hours. Study sessions don’t have to be very long to be effective, but they must be focused.

Also, be deliberate with your time. This means that you should have a plan while studying. When you sit down to study, you should know specifically what class, what topic, or exam, and have the material ready to go. The first 15 minutes of studying shouldn’t be deciding what to study and gathering materials.

5 Specific Nursing School Study Techniques

Study Techniques

Now that the scene is set and you’re in the right mind set, let’s talk about specific ways to actually get the information into your brain.

Technique 1: Pre-Study

Pre Study
  • Look up the content before the lecture and prime your brain for the material
  • Listen well during class and write down tough questions that come up while listening
    • Why is this important? How does this relate to what I already know?
    • Write them in your notes to form connections
  • After class, summarize what you know into your notes
  • Brain map topics on blank sheets of paper in a way that makes sense to you
  • Study the page to commit to memory

Technique 2: Whiteboard & Quizlet

  • Write down key points from lecture and curious questions about the material in your notes
  • You may want to make these notes directly on the professor’s PowerPoint during class
  • Make a document of your notes, add in any key points or study guides provided by the professor
  • Get a whiteboard and some dry erase pens
  • Taking a section at a time, write down high level points on the whiteboard
    • Level 1 = writing out terms that you need to know, then filling in definitions from memory
    • Level 2 = writing down terms and definitions from memory
  • Erase and repeat 2-3x, attempting to do as much from memory as possible
    •  If you don’t want to buy a whiteboard, you could write it on paper and just get rid of the paper, or you can use a blank Word or Google document (however physically writing it down does help with memorization)
  • Open Quizlet and create flashcards with the terms
  • Make sure the sorting option is on and focus on the terms you’re still learning
  • If you purchase Picmonic’s, use their interactive, mnemonic version of flashcards. comes with over 400 Picmonics as well, if you have both a and Picmonic account.

Technique 3: Blurting

  • If it’s a large test, break it up into units/topics
  • Take notes of important concepts in lecture and from any additional resources; create a master note sheet
  • Read through your master notes
  • Put away those notes, and then grab a blank sheet of paper (and idk maybe some fun pens) and blurt (write) on the page whatever you can remember from the topic (no time limit)
  • Once you write out as much as you can think of, grab your notes again and see what you missed. Highlight, underline, and add in what you missed
  • Repeat the process until you’ve got it down

Technique 4: Teach the Gap

Teach the Gap
  • Pick your topic
  • Without looking at your textbook, pretend you are going to teach the topic to someone else (make sure you are actually saying it out loud!)
  • Write down the gaps you identify in attempting to explain
  • Write in the missing information
  • Re-attempt to teach while looking at your paper
  • Repeat until you can do it from memory

Technique 5: Study Group

Study Group
  • Find a group of students that have skill sets that complement each other
  • Divide study topics between each of you
  • Independently, develop a study resource about the topic like a checklist, diagram, or quick guide (you can even purchase these on Etsy in a pinch)
  • Come together before a test and share the guides with each other and teach the topic
  • You can also do group flashcards and have a contest for who can say the answers first
  • A word of caution: Make sure the people you’re with actually want to study and work through the material and it’s not just a hangout session every time

Don’t Forget About Formal Help

Part of your college tuition likely includes tutoring and your professor’s office hours. You are paying for these benefits, so don’t feel bad about using them! Some things just don’t make sense, and that’s okay. Let’s go through the different options for students who are struggling to understand the material.


Many colleges offer free or low-cost tutoring services to help students improve their understanding of course material. Tutors may be fellow students, graduate students, or professional tutors.

Office Hours

Professors and teaching assistants typically hold regular office hours, during which students can ask questions and receive extra help with the course material.

Office hours pro-tip: Go to office hours with very specific questions you need clarification and help on. Be respectful of their time and focused with the needs you have.

Supplemental Instruction

Some colleges offer supplemental instruction programs, which are designed to help students who are struggling with specific courses. These programs may include additional lectures, study groups, or other resources.

Academic Coaching

Some colleges offer academic coaching programs, which are designed to help students develop study skills, time management strategies, and other tools for academic success.

Disability Services

Colleges are required by law to provide accommodations to students with disabilities, such as extra time on exams, note-taking assistance, or alternative formats for course materials.

Online Resources

Many colleges offer online resources such as video tutorials, online practice quizzes, and interactive study guides. These are likely on your college library’s website. Your librarians are a wonderful help, so you could always ask them for more information on how to utilize these resources. Remember: You are paying for college and therefore for access to this! By doing so, you can increase your chances of academic success and achieve your educational goals.

Paid Supplemental Nursing School Resources

Today, there are also many options for online support specifically for nursing students. If I were to start nursing school all over again, I would purchase one of these to help make sense of the more complex topics. This will save you time, help you understand things faster, and consolidate your study materials. I love all of these:

You can’t go wrong. I love all three!

Tip for Studying in Nursing School (Video)


How do you memorize in nursing school?

Check out the above 5 study techniques I mentioned earlier in this post. Mnemonics are also extremely helpful, especially when you’re trying to recall information mid-nursing school exam. Here’s a database of nursing school mnemonics.

What should I do if I am struggling in nursing school?

If you are struggling in nursing school, it is essential to seek help as soon as possible. Don’t try to fake it til you make it. See if you can identify specifically what you’re struggling with, as people are more likely to be able to help you make academic gains if they can clearly see the problem. So, if you feel extremely overwhelmed, try to reflect on why.

  • Test anxiety
  • Unable to understand concepts
  • Fearful of messing up in clinical
  • Unable to remember information
  • Know you need to study, but don’t even know where to start
  • So many deadlines that you can’t keep up

Write down the specific struggles and seek help. You can chat with professors directly, tutors, or someone else at your college to help you be successful. Don’t feel like you’re being a burden or a bother, they want you to do well but are not aware you are struggling unless you reach out.

How do I prepare for exams in nursing school?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as each student has a different learning style. Develop a nursing school study routine based off of the advice in this post, and tweak it as needed.

What should a first-year nursing student expect?

As a first-year nursing student, you can expect to focus on the foundational knowledge and skills necessary for the nursing profession. Here are some things you may experience during your first year of nursing school:

Challenging Coursework

Anatomy and physiology, nursing fundamentals, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and more.

Clinical Rotations

Clinical rotations: Depending on the program, you may start clinical rotations in a healthcare setting such as a hospital or clinic. This will give you hands-on experience in patient care.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Nursing is a collaborative profession, and you will learn how to work effectively with other healthcare professionals. This might be in group work, at clinical with each other, or with the health care team.

Time Management and Organization

Nursing school can be very demanding, as you juggle many deadlines and clinical requirements. You will need to learn how to manage your time effectively to balance your academic work with your personal life.


You will learn about the expectations and responsibilities of the nursing profession, including ethical and legal considerations. Having a professional nursing license means reporting to a state board of nursing / professional board of regulation, and being a nurse will require a new level of professionalism that is different than the general public.

Overall, the first year of nursing school can be challenging, but also rewarding as you begin to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become a nurse. It is important to stay focused, seek support when needed, and take advantage of the resources available to you.

Getting ready for nursing school clinicals, but feeling unprepared?

Skills Refresh 3 1

Nursing Skills Refresh from FreshRN is a self-paced video course for both new and experienced nurses. Whether you’re preparing for your first clinical experience, or need to brush up on your nursing skills, this course is for you. Each lesson walks you through the basic tasks and concepts you will experience in the clinical setting. Once completed, you’ll feel comfortable in a hospital setting, understand the basics of what the bedside experience will feel like, and know insider tips and tricks that will make you feel confident and in control.

More Resources for Nursing Students

Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.