TIP #1: 1:3 Rule
No, this isn’t actually a “rule.” But it’s important to note that you need to study outside of class. I’ve heard it said many times by my teachers: for every 1 hour in class, expect to study 3 hours outside of class (a 3 credit class would be 9 hours of studying a week).
I personally found this difficult, so I would simply try to study for 1 hour each day (around 7 hours a week for my 3 credit classes).
TIP #2: Have a Plan
Most of you probably have a monthly planner to track your assignment due dates and test dates.
But do you have an hourly break-down of what needs to get done today?
I personally found it easier to manage the information when I planned myself down to the hour. I designated an hour time-slot to a specific subject or topic. Once the hour was over, I moved on to the next subject or topic.
The Complete Nursing School Planner allows you to schedule your days, weeks, and months! You can get the Hourly Study Schedule as an add-on to really dive deep into your day and keep it front and center.
Scheduling one subject or topic for each hour of the day keeps you looking at only one thing: the thing you need to memorize or understand. When you have an actual/realistic plan for how you’ll get through all the content, things get a lot less overwhelming. Even if you aren’t able to stick perfectly to it, THAT’S OKAY! Planning IS BETTER than being overrun by anxiety.
For example, my typical schedule looked like this:
2-3pm: group review (with my study group)
3-4pm: Medsurg (heart failure and diuretics)
4-4:15pm: break (walk, Facetime my friend, etc)
4:15-5pm: Medsurg (COPD)
5-6pm: dinner break
6-7pm: Pharmacology chapter 5 (antibiotics part 1)
7-8pm: Pharmacology chapter 6 (antibiotics part 2)
After each class, I found the most success in remembering class by synthesizing (combining into one place) my notes from the PowerPoint and the notes I wrote down from the lecture. I rewrote them in one organized document. Then, I would print out my notes and have them in my class binder for test review later on!
TIP #4: Mix it Up!
Mix up your study habits!
I found that a variety of different study methods helped me remember information because I wasn’t bored during my study times.
Write out your notes on a whiteboard
(This worked the best for me! I also would talk out loud the notes written on the whiteboard)
- Use flashcards
- Study in groups
- Do NCLEX questions
TIP #5: Take Breaks
It may sound strange to some, but stepping back and taking short breaks can help you focus better during the time you’re actually studying.
- Go for a run
- Walk your dog
- Bake your favorite cookies
- Go for a bike ride
- Clean / organize a closet or room
- FaceTime your mom…anything to take a mental break!
TIP #6: Stop the Noises
Buzzing, ringing, and notifications. Simply using the “do-not-disturb” mode on your phone doesn’t work. Notifications break your concentration and stop your focused study times. Sometimes you have to be forced to stop the noise.
SOLUTION: The app “Freedom” is a great way to schedule study times. You can set it up to not allow you to click on the websites you choose such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, shopping websites, etc.
TIP #7: Teach it... OUT LOUD!
Do you really know the content? Passively listening or passively reading the content usually does not produce the same benefits as actively speaking the material out loud. Don’t sit around listening to your friends or teachers talk through the material; actively engage with it.
SOLUTION: Teach the material OUT LOUD without your notes to yourself, your friends, your family, even your pet. When you can teach the content without hesitation, you really know the content. It’s a perfect test of how prepared you actually are for the next exam.