How to Study for Nursing School

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How do you study for nursing school? What do you need to study for nursing school? What are the requirements to study nursing?

These are all questions a lot of nursing students ask.

When you first starting nursing school, it can be scary. Nursing school is hard. Studying for nursing school is unlike any other program in college. Nursing school requires hours of patience, study and hard work to be successful.

Along with the important things to know when studying for nursing school, you need the must-have accessories. In addition, having the best laptop for success is vital.

Why Should You Go to Nursing School?

I’m sure that you always hear about how hard nursing school is. So, why does anyone want to do it? Well, there are several reasons why someone would want to attend nursing school!

  • You will most likely always have a job
  • Nursing is one of the more mentally rewarding professions (and mentally draining)
  • Nurses have the potential to make over $200,000 per year
  • There are about 5,000 different avenues you can go with a BSN, nursing degree
  • You will meet some of the best people in the entire world
  • Nurses are known for compassion
  • You will be saving lives

What Classes Will You Take for Nursing School?

Depending on your school’s program, everyone will take different classes for nursing school. However, there are basic classes that every nursing student must take to fulfill each state’s Board of Nursing.

Most prerequisite classes for nursing school are:

  • Literature or English Composition
  • History or World Culture
  • Anatomy and Physiology 1
  • Anatomy and Physiology 2
  • General, Organic, and Biochemistry 1
  • General, Organic, and Biochemistry 2
  • Nutrition
  • Public Speaking or Speech
  • Intro to Nursing

Most classes you will take in nursing school are:

  • Nursing Basics or Fundamentals 1
  • Nursing Basics or Fundamentals 2
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pediatrics
  • Ethics
  • Critical Care or Complex Situations
  • Emergency Care
  • Med-Surg (medical-surgical), Care of Adults or Older Adults

What Are the Requirements to Study Nursing?

In addition to the required classes mentioned above, you will also need to complete certain requirements for your state’s Board of Nursing.

For example, to be admitted into a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program you will most likely need a 2.75+ GPA in prerequisite classes and an overall 3.0+ GPA. Also, you will most likely have to maintain a certain GPA or grade minimum in all nursing curriculum classes.

Additionally, you will have to complete x amount of clinical hours depending on your state’s Board of Nursing requirements.


How Many Years Do You Study Nursing?

How long is nursing school? Well, depending on which nursing program you’re accepted in it can be different lengths.

BSN programs are typically 4-year programs, but more recently have been stretched to 5-year programs. ADN/LPN programs are typically anywhere from 1.5-years to 3-years. Accelerated nursing programs will greatly vary in length depending on which University you attend. They can be anywhere from 1.5 years to 3.5 years for a Bachelor’s degree.

Studying for Nursing School Prerequisites

How do you study for nursing school prerequisites? The answer is simpler than you might think. Some of the basic general-education (gen-ed) classes that you have to take will require minimal studying. They will typically require you to attend all classes, but won’t have many homework assignments or difficult exams.

Moreover, the more advanced prerequisite nursing classes will be more difficult. These include anatomy and physiology and chemistry. Because these classes are more difficult, they require more attention and studying. Firstly, for anatomy and physiology, I would recommend actually going to class, making notecards, creating a study group and taking colored notes. Going to class will not only help you retain information, but it helps keep you focused on the information.

Study groups are especially helpful for anatomy because of the range of the information. Additionally, notecards are useful due to the range of information as well. Taking color notes really helped me organize the information in respect to different body systems, types of anatomy and depth of physiology.

Chemistry classes are different from anatomy and physiology. Because anatomy and physiology are a lot of memorization, it can make it difficult to transition to a chemistry class. While chemistry has a memorization component, it requires a lot more practice problems similar to math. Creating a study group can be helpful to work through problems and solve them together. In addition, actually doing the practice problems is vital in ensuring success in chemistry classes.

I would recommend to pre-study chemistry or anatomy if you haven’t had past experiences with them. There are some practice books that really help you fine tune your chemistry and anatomy study skills.

How to Organize and Study for Nursing School?


What to study for nursing school? How to study for nursing school fundamentals? Truthfully most nursing students will have to re-learn how to study and revise their studying methods. I’m sure everyone has seen the memes or references to how hard nursing school can be to study for. But, with the right study methods and tips, it can be a lot easier.

Study More and Better

The first step to studying for nursing school is to increase the amount of hours that you study. A simple way to figure out how many hours to study for nursing school is to take the amount of credits you are taking and multiply that by 1. Whatever that comes to is the amount of hours you should be studying.

Most students should be studying anywhere from 20-30 hours a week for nursing school. Although, this might change based on your personal course load. In addition to increasing the amount you are studying, you should increase the quality of your studying.

I can promise you that when nursing finals come around, you will be scrambling to memorize everything you can. Almost every nursing student will experience this feeling at least once. If you are studying the information throughout the semester in a quality amount, you will retain more and have an easier time.

Study After Class

Another incredible tip I received from one of my professors is to study after class. This might not be possible for every person or for every class, but I can guarantee that it is one of the best ways to study for nursing school.

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After a lecture you will have a lot of fresh information in your brain. Taking this information to the library or a quiet study place will help you process and retain the information. Even if it is just for an hour or two, it can drastically improve your study habits while in nursing school.

Get Yourself Organized and Color Coded


Getting organized and color coded can drastically improve your study habits for nursing school. Color coding can help you stay focused on a specific class or subject. Organizing can help you feel empowered and in control of your studying.

Getting a planner can help you keep everything organized. Mixing up due dates is something you don’t want to do. This is my favorite planner my favorite planner. In addition, if you don’t want a physical planner use Google Calendar or the Calendar app on your smart phone. 

My absolute favorite to use are felt tipped pens, which I find amazing to write with and generally don’t bleed through. Color coding by subject helps tremendously when organizing information. These are the specific 5-Star binders that I use and 5-Star folders I use. And finally, some highlighters that I love!

Nursing School Study Tips

What are some good study tips for nursing school? There are some general tips to studying for nursing school that might help improve your habits and test grades.

Turn Your Phone Off

This is overlooked by most nursing students. But, is one of the most simple and powerful ways to improve your studying. Turning off your phone screen can help to decrease distractions. In addition, it can increase your focus on the material in front of you. I highly recommend turning off your phone and putting it away while studying.

Go to Class and Write Things Down

Going to class won’t drastically improve your ability to studying for nursing school. But, you can see results by writing information down. Working with information while it’s being presented to you can help increase retention. Additionally, some professors might give out test hints that you will want to know!

Make Flashcards and use Talkback

Teaching yourself how to study for nursing school is difficult. Using talkback to study along with Quizlet or hand-made flashcards is beneficial for studying. Flashcards were one of my best ways to study as a nursing student because they were simple. Making flashcards that have simple definitions and information can help you to learn the base information faster.

In addition, using talkback to a friend or your pet or yourself can really help improve retention. Creating a study group that goes through the information while using talkback or teaching is very beneficial.

Read the Book

“Read the Book” is quite self-explanatory, but will help you study for nursing classes. Honestly, there is a lot of classes that you don’t need the book for. A lot of classes will strictly use the PowerPoint presentations as study material. But, there are some classes that do require you to read the book. If that’s the case, go to a quiet place, grab a highlighter and get to work!

Listen to Music or Watch Movies

So you need help studying for nursing school? Watch a movie while studying! How does that work? This is one of my favorite study methods. I would watch movies that I was very familiar with (more listen than watch). Knowing all of the words, I didn’t have to even look at the screen and it really helped me with studying.

Additionally, listening to music without lyrics can also help nursing students study. Unfamiliar music is great to help you concentrate and separate yourself from things going on around you. It sounds strange, but it does help you recall information for exams.

Wear Uncomfortable Clothes

What is the best way to study for nursing school? This is it. A lot of nursing students think that wearing comfortable clothes while studying is fine. But, I am here to tell you differently!

Wearing uncomfortable clothes while studying helps your body and mind differentiate between studying and relaxing. If you’re wearing comfortable clothes your body and mind will be ready for relaxing, not studying. In addition, combining a different environment with uncomfortable clothes can help you study all night without distraction.

Some Other Quick Study Tips for Nursing Students

  • Take study breaks
  • Remember to eat and drink
  • Keep the lights on
  • Get adequate, quality sleep
  • Study at the library (or a quiet place you can concentrate)

What Should You Study for Nursing School?

Organizing and studying for nursing school is useless without the right information to study. The right information will be different for everyone. Although it depends on your nursing program, most nursing students should focus on NCLEX style questions.

With the exception of pathophysiology and pharmacology, most nursing classes will be testing with NCLEX style questions. Although pathophysiology and pharmacology might have some NCLEX-like questions on the exams, most questions will be about memorization.

Nursing School Test Questions

Learning how to answer nursing school exam questions can be just as difficult as knowing the information. One of the easiest ways to think about nursing exam questions is to ask yourself, “if I had to walk in the patient’s room and do one action, what would I do?”.

For example if the question reads:

You walk into a patient’s room and you notice they are coughing and struggling to breathe. What would your priority action be?

  1. Call the physician.
  2. Ask them if they need a drink of water.
  3. Place the head of the bed at 45 degrees.
  4. Give them 2L O2 through nasal cannula.

There are at least 3 correct answers here, but have to determine which is the most correct answer. In addition, you should consider which action would you complete and then walk out of the room. For me, I would choose 3 or 4 because I don’t know why they are struggling.

Final Thoughts

So, hopefully the next time you ask, how do I study for nursing school, you’ll have at least some answers!

Studying for nursing school is difficult and scary. But, it doesn’t have to be. Nursing students can be very successful in their studies. Figure out what study method works for you and use it.

Full Time Nurse

Striving to help nurses and nursing students succeed.

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