How to Prepare for Nursing School

September 2, 2020

Anyone who has ever encountered a nursing student can understand just how hard nursing school is. Long hours, challenging courses and sleepless nights are all but standard, and burnout is a sensation many come to experience. Fortunately, there are ways to tackle the workload.

In this article, we’ll explore different ways to help you manage the workload. Our study tips are designed to help you succeed, no matter how stressful the moment may be. We’ll also look into what you can do to prepare for the journey before your arrival.

Preparing for Nursing School

nursing school study tips

There are a few different things you can do to begin preparing for nursing school. Check out the list below for suggestions on how to set yourself up for success.

Enroll in a Pre-Nursing Program

Some nursing schools require students to complete a pre nursing program before pursuing a more advanced degree. These programs are a great way to get familiar with the responsibilities expected from nursing professionals.

They also provide an important clinical experience where nursing school students will have the opportunity to test their skills, ask questions and adjust to school life. These programs typically last a year or two.

Take All The Necessary Exams

There are a number of tests nurses must take throughout the nursing school journey. Check with your college and see what their degree program requires. You’ll most likely need to complete the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), which assesses your skills in reading, math, science, English language and usage.

Students will also have to complete additional exams upon graduation.

The NCLEX, which stands for National Council Licensure Examination, refers to one of the two standardized tests nurses need to pass in order to become either a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse.

You can check with your university to learn more about NCLEX requirements.


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Think About How You Digest Information

Staring at words on a page may work for some, but many nursing students will find that alternative preparation methods will more effectively help them retain information. Experiment with a few different mediums to see what sticks. Practice exams can be useful for some while video or audio instruction may be more helpful to others.

Make Sure You’re Up-to-Date with Immunizations

That’s right, patients are the only ones who need their shots! Check with your admissions counselor to see which immunizations your nursing school requires. If you want to play it safe as a nursing student, make sure you’re up to date with the following:

  • Tetanus
  • Rubella
  • Rubeola
  • Mumps
  • Meningitis
  • Pertussis
  • Chickenpox
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis B

Nursing School Study Tips

Now that you know how to prepare for nursing school, it’s time to discuss what you can do to get through the program.

Studying for nursing school exams is no easy task, but some organizations can provide a huge amount of help in the long run, no matter what your learning style may be. Check out the list below for important information on helping you get through the hardest parts of nursing school.

Use All Available Resources

Preparing for Nursing School

Nursing students are expected to do a lot on their own, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any resources around to help. Go through the syllabuses and see what areas you are least comfortable with. You can also turn to external guides.

The NCLEX licensure exam offers tutorials and practice exams for students to complete leading up to their assessment. Go through them a few times and see how you perform. Tailor your study guide based on this experience.

Form a Study Group

Sometimes, it helps to hear information explained from another perspective, especially if it pertains to school material you may be struggling with. People excel in different areas, so pooling that knowledge together will only help strengthen everyone’s understanding of the subject at hand. Compare notes within your study group, make sure you get filled in on anything you may have missed.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to coursework the entire time. Remember that this time is also an excuse to be social with friends and classmates throughout the week.

Do a Little Every Day

Cramming for exams is stressful. It’s also proven to be somewhat ineffective. Avoid the rush by doing some prep work every day. You’ll retain more information throughout the course and won’t be tempted to participate in behaviors known to reduce performance like skipping meals and staying up late. When it comes to nursing school, time management is key.

Prep Before Class

Part of your everyday nursing school routine might include squeezing in some time to review materials before the bell rings. This will put you into the academic mindset before a lecture and help prime your ears for important information that may be covered.

Focus on What The Teacher Reviews

Nursing students are assigned an enormous amount of reading and research throughout their programs. Manage your study time by determining what subjects you need to master and what subjects you don’t.

It’s a good idea to follow your professor’s lead here. Pay attention to what they review in class. The subjects they choose to introduce should probably be prioritized over course material that is not discussed.

Mix Up Your Study Materials

Certain professors will favor certain resources, but it’s important to remember that there is a wide net of materials out there. Though eLearning media remain both convenient and portable, physical materials can also come in handy.

In fact, recent polls suggest that a sizable percentage of students prefer to have some kind of hard copy over a digital device when it comes to class materials. While interactive elements of digital preparation like scrolling and clicking can help enhance the academic experience, some argue that printed material helps students retain information more effectively.

Go Over Material With A Tutor of Mentor

It’s important to remember that your professors are not only there to educate you, but support you as well. If you find yourself struggling with a certain subject, or even if you simply want to review materials you are already comfortable with, don’t hesitate to reach out to them.

Office hours are designed for one-on-one time with students. Take advantage of this policy.

If you need more assistance than what their office hours afford, think about getting in touch with a tutor. It never hurts to have another set of eyes on how you approach your coursework. See what kinds of resources your nursing school provides. Oftentimes, students can access tutors free of charge.

Make Good Use of Your Downtime

We all need to indulge in some downtime, but there are ways to pepper in some productivity while lounging around. Consider getting some easy study preparations out of the way while listening to music or watching TV.

Make flash cards for a future study session. Jot down a few ideas on sticky notes and place them somewhere you’re sure to see. Of course, you’ll want to review once you’re back in study mode to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes during the creation process.

You can also take advantage of your “easy weeks.” Just because you’re experiencing a light workload doesn’t mean you won’t be slammed in the next. Strike a balance and get ahead of the game while you can.

Take Breaks

Nursing School Study Tips

Mental fatigue is real. Though you may feel guilty stepping away from your study materials, it’s important to take breaks throughout the day. Without them, you’ll likely lose focus.

Though you may be looking at your notes, you might not be retaining the information they provide.

Go for a walk, get some exercise and think about calling a friend to break things up. Tiny rewards can go a long way in helping you refocus.

Learn from Past Performances

Exams for nursing students can cause a lot of stress, especially if their performance doesn’t match up to their expectations. Try not to let a poor performance in the past discourage you in the future.

Learn from the experience and think of ways you can prevent it from happening again. What can you do differently? How is time management a factor? What resources do you have access to that can help you improve performance?

Try Not To Work Where You Sleep

Nursing school isn’t exactly known for its lavish housing facilities. College and university students are often squeezed into tight dormitories, typically with a roommate present. Of course, this doesn’t exactly cater to a productive work space.

Try to find a designated area for your school work. It could be a common room, library or café. Removing yourself from more familiar settings helps eliminate distractions and makes it easier to retain new material.

Find the Right Noise Environment for You

Not all students are built alike. While some may excel in a quiet environment, others might require some noise to remain focused. Find out what works for you.

Some students may do better with some music in the background. Others might find that saying certain concepts and ideas out loud helps them stick. Figure out what helps you most and proceed accordingly.

Stay Off Social Media

You don’t want to introduce any distractions to your exam preparation period. While we like to think we can do it all, the reality is that we can’t. Your research shouldn’t be punctuated by glancing at your phone every few minutes. Instead, put the phone on silent and out of sight. You can reward yourself by peaking at Instagram once you finish a chapter, or two.

Stick to Brain Food

Convincing a nursing student they should stay away from sugar could be a hard sell. After all, many might feel as though they are entitled to a treat. Of course, you can indulge every once in and awhile, but try not to make it a dietary staple.

Nutritious foods such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries have been proven to help memory and concentration. Consuming a lot of sugar will inevitably lead to a crash, leaving you fatigued and unable to properly prepare for the week ahead.


Earn your degree in Nursing from NEIT and begin your new career path today!




Nursing School FAQ

How do I prepare myself for nursing school?

The best way to prepare for nursing school is by connecting with those who have been through the process. Try shadowing a nurse before your program begins. You should also browse around online for helpful resources and study guides.

How many hours a day should I study for nursing school?

Everyone is different, but in general, it is recommended that nursing school students study anywhere from 2-4 hours a day. Committing class material to memory is essential to becoming a registered nurse, so the more time studying, the better!

What should I know before starting nursing school?

Before starting the semester, it’s important to recognize that nursing schools are a lot of work. Figure out ways to decompress throughout the week and know that progress is best measured through comprehension, not grades.

Is nursing school hard to pass?

Nursing school programs are notoriously difficult. They require high GPAs and a solid understanding of math, chemistry, biology, psychology and other demanding subjects. That said, if nursing school students should have no problem successfully completing their programs so long as they remain disciplined and driven.

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