How to Study for Nursing School: 8 Tips to Follow

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Is nursing school hard? It can be challenging, but learning how to study for nursing school can help. First, establish a reasonable study schedule prioritizing shorter, more frequent study sessions. Use active techniques, join a study group, and start your NCLEX prep early.

open books sitting on table

Switching careers to nursing is one of the most impactful decisions you’ll make. As a future nurse, you will engage in high-level thinking and reasoning skills to provide complex care for patients. But before you can work starting IV lines and administering medications, you need to navigate nursing school.

Is nursing school hard? What are the best nursing school study tips? You’ll get those answers here. Check out this guide on how to study for nursing school as you prepare to take charge of your future.

Is Nursing School Hard?

Nursing school can be challenging, although every student will have a different experience, depending on their academic strengths and weaknesses. For instance, you might discover anatomy class is a breeze but need help in nursing simulation labs. Even if some nursing coursework and experiential learning labs are challenging, they’ll prepare you to tackle the everyday challenges nurses face.

The good news is that if you choose to attend Xavier University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, you’ll receive incredible student support services. Our nursing instructors go above and beyond to ensure your success through every step of the program. Plus, if you qualify for enrollment, you could graduate with your nursing degree in as few as 16 months.

Even with exceptional student support, one of the biggest challenges of nursing school is the schedule, particularly in an accelerated nursing program. You must practice good time management habits to complete your coursework, attend in-person learning components, and clock enough study time.

So, in short, is nursing school hard? Yes, it has challenges, but it’s also quite doable — even if you weren’t a straight-A student before. Earning your degree is even more possible if you know how to prepare for nursing school.

nurses standing around an IV

Ready to become a nurse? Learn how to make a career change to nursing in 5 steps.

How to Prepare for Nursing School

You can take a few steps to facilitate success in nursing school. First, it’s critical to treat school like a full-time job. Many nursing students will tell you they log more weekly hours on school-related activities than they would for a typical full-time job.

It’s wise to critically examine your current schedule before your start date. You’ll need to free up as much time as possible for classes, labs, clinical experiences, and study sessions. Talk to your loved ones about the next 16 months and enlist their help whenever possible. This is especially important if you have children; ask other adults in your family if they can help you with your non-school responsibilities.

A Look at How to Study for Nursing School

The following nursing school study tips can help you study smarter and achieve better results.

1. Establish a Reasonable Study Schedule

The key word here is “reasonable.” While it might be tempting to go full tilt ahead and study every spare minute of each day, this isn’t a sustainable pace, and you may find yourself experiencing symptoms of burnout.

xavier absn student reading course material

Scientific research demonstrates that shorter, spaced-out study sessions lead to better memory retention than marathon sessions. Instead of trying to study for eight hours straight on Saturday and again on Sunday, consider setting aside an hour each morning and night throughout the week (or a similar schedule).

Use a day planner to schedule all your classes, labs, and other time commitments. Then, pencil in designated time for study sessions throughout the week.

2. Create a Distraction-Free Study Space

Everyone learns differently, but it’s difficult for anyone to learn effectively in a distracting environment. Although you might take advantage of spare minutes here and there that involve studying in unusual places (e.g., on public transportation or while waiting in line at the bank), it’s best to do the bulk of your studying in a distraction-free space.

If you share your household with others, talk to them about your need for quiet during your designated study times. You might also invest in noise-canceling headphones. If you don’t have a home office and must study in a shared space, try to orient yourself to face a blank wall so you can focus on studying and not what other people are doing.

3. Review Class Material Daily

If you decide to enroll in Xavier’s ABSN program, you’ll complete your nursing coursework online. You may find online courses enhance the learning process because our e-learning platform allows you to:

  • Participate in interactive lessons
  • Review patient case studies
  • Watch informational videos
  • Participate in class discussion boards

In other words, there are various learning delivery methods to benefit from. Plus, you can go back and review older lessons as many times as you wish.

Reviewing class material daily is a good idea, even if you’re all caught up with your work. Repetition is helpful for memory retention.

xavier absn student in lab setting

4. Begin NCLEX-RN Prep Early

While discussing how to study for nursing school, it’s important to remember that earning your nursing degree is only the first step toward becoming a registered nurse (RN). You’ll also need to pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain state licensure and apply for your first nursing job.

The NCLEX is a rigorous, lengthy exam aimed at ensuring licensed nurses are fully prepared to deliver safe patient care. To pass the NCLEX on your first attempt, you should plan on beginning your NCLEX prep shortly after entering nursing school.

Passing the NCLEX requires more than just rote memorization. The exam was designed to test a candidate’s ability to apply nursing knowledge to clinical situations and develop an appropriate clinical response. In other words, it tests your clinical judgment and decision-making skills.

Because of this, one of the best ways to prep for the NCLEX is to answer practice questions related to your course material daily, and take full-length practice exams periodically. You can also work through NCLEX prep guides, video tutorials, and similar online resources.

Xavier ABSN student at desk using a laptop computer

Eager for more NCLEX prep tips? Check out this guide on how to prepare for the NCLEX.

5. Form a Study Group

Even if you prefer solitary studying, consider changing things up in nursing school and forming or joining a study group. A study group allows you to get to know other members of your nursing cohort and benefit from group camaraderie. Plus, study group members can help each other out. For example, another student may have a knack for explaining a concept you’re struggling with.

6. Use the Pomodoro Technique

Even the most motivated nursing students might need help with procrastination occasionally. If you’re having trouble being productive during a study session, consider using the Pomodoro Technique. This time management approach involves using a timer.

Set your timer for 25 minutes and work straight through without allowing yourself to be distracted. Then, take a five-minute break and repeat the process. After every four Pomodoro intervals, take a 15-to 30-minute break.

The Pomodoro Technique works to overcome procrastination by breaking tasks down into manageable chunks. Rather than focusing on the material you must work through, you’ll focus on working for a set amount of time. This can make your study materials seem more approachable.

7. Use Active Study Techniques

Active study techniques can enhance memory retention better than passive study techniques (e.g., passively reading a textbook). Here are a few examples of active studying:

  • Explain the material in your own words (pretend you’re teaching someone)
  • Write down the concept in your own words using simple language a child could understand
  • Write down questions as you read
  • Answer practice questions

8. Ask Your Instructors for Help When Needed

Although nursing school can be challenging, these nursing school study tips can help. Plus, you’re never alone when you enroll at Xavier. Here, we pride ourselves on ensuring each student is fully supported throughout their academic journey. Although you’ll complete nursing coursework online, you can contact your instructors for extra help whenever and as often as needed.

nurses with durags and masks looking at clipboard

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Prepare for Your Nursing Career at Xavier University!

Xavier invites future nurses to prepare for a meaningful career with our ABSN program. With three convenient ABSN Learning Centers in Ohio and three start dates per year, nursing education is more accessible than you might think.

Contact our friendly admission counselors today to learn more about admission requirements and next steps.