Study Tips for Nurses
As a nursing student, the hardest thing to form is a solid study habit. Ideally, we know how important it is to study for school and to do our best to succeed, but what’s the right way to study? How can we study to succeed in nursing school?
First and foremost, there is no right way to study. In school, we have been conditioned to learn about things like our learning styles to isolate what methods work best for us to study. However, modern pedagogy shows that there are hundreds of learning types and styles and that students can learn in so many diverse ways, even in ways contrary to their supposed learning type.
However, there are some tried and true methods that can help even the busiest of students learn and understand the information provided. Check them out below:
1. Pre-testing: When students practice answering questions, even incorrectly, before learning the content, their future learning is enhanced. Take time to pre-test yourself on some material to see your current level of understanding as it can help target areas of needed improvement.
2. Spaced practice: Spacing out study sessions—focusing on a topic for a short period on different days—has been shown to improve retention and recall more than massed practice. This can involve things like reviewing flashcards or outlines. One of the best methods of spaced practice includes reviewing flashcards then separating them into things that were difficult to remember, things that were answered incorrectly, and things that were answered correctly. Then each day, review one of the different sets of flashcards to improve understanding and retention.
3. Quizzing/Question Review: As future nurses, one of the major goals is to learn how to answer NCLEX style questions. That is where self quizzing comes into play. After reviewing concepts in your notes, it's also important to review questions so that you can learn how to translate concepts into understanding. For example, we learn about "prioritization" but NCLEX style questions where you are meant to pick the highest priority or least priority patient helps to translate the concept into reality. Utilize NCLEX questions associated with your course text or purchase an NCLEX style review book (attempt for one separated by topic so you can focus on the topics relevant to your test) to help implement this practice.
4. Paraphrasing: Oftentimes, we have read a few paragraphs in the nursing textbook only to realize that we didn’t retain a single concept or key point in those paragraphs. One tip to help with understanding the information is to paraphrase it in words that you can comprehend. For me, this is done by utilizing acronyms or mnemonics to help me retain information in ways that relate to me or my personal life.
5. Pomodoro Method: This is a great technique in our new age online learning world, especially for procrastinators! The Pomodoro technique works by employing "pomodoros" – focused work sessions – with frequent short breaks to promote sustained concentration and stave off mental fatigue. The steps include:
Get a to-do list and a timer.
Set your timer for 25 minutes, and focus on a single task until the timer rings.
When your session ends, mark off one pomodoro and record what you completed.
Then enjoy a five-minute break.
After four pomodoros, take a longer, more restorative 15-30 minute break.
It's a great technique to try especially since it makes studying topics a little less daunting!
Hope these tips help the pre-nursing and graduate nursing fam as the semester starts!