How to Prepare for Nursing School: Nursing School Study Tips for Success (2023)

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.

Table of Contents

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

  • Apply for a degree in nursing at NEIT!


How to Prepare for Nursing School: Nursing School Study Tips for Success (1)

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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(Video) My Tips For Nursing School Success

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

How to Prepare for Nursing School: Nursing School Study Tips for Success (2)

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

How to Prepare for Nursing School: Nursing School Study Tips for Success (3)

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.


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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?

(Video) How I Went From Failing To Straight A's In Nursing School | Legit Study Method That *ACTUALLY WORKS*

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.


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

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!

How do I prepare for my first year of nursing school? ›

How to Prepare for Nursing School
  1. Establish an At-Home Study Space.
  2. Stay Organized to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed.
  3. Employ Self Care Rituals.
  4. Be Prepared to Read a Lot.
  5. Focus on Comprehension Instead of Grades.
  6. Join a Study Group.
  7. Find a Balance Between School and Life.
Jan 10, 2022

What's the hardest class in nursing school? ›

Hardest Nursing School Classes
  • Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
  • Pharmacology. ...
  • Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
  • Evidence-Based Practice.

Which semester of nursing school is the hardest? ›

Health Assessment: the hardest semester of nursing school

Many students struggle with the hands-on nature of this course, given that it is so different from many other typical college courses.

How do you get straight A's in nursing school? ›

10 Study Tips That Will Make Nursing School Easier
  1. Follow the nursing exam study guide. ...
  2. Focus on the material covered in class. ...
  3. Think in terms of action, not facts. ...
  4. Form a study group. ...
  5. Skim-read first. ...
  6. Use outside sources. ...
  7. Know your learning style. ...
  8. Use downtime as study time.

What every nursing student should know? ›

Top 10 skills nursing students need to succeed
  • Confidence. ...
  • Ability to connect the dots. ...
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Relation-based care. ...
  • Leadership. ...
  • Lifelong learning. ...
  • Think like a nurse. ...
  • Work well with colleagues.

How do I not fail nursing school? ›

But, one thing that keeps many people from pursuing a career in nursing is nursing school—because they have heard it is hard.
  1. Time Management. ...
  2. Get Organized. ...
  3. Use Mnemonics. ...
  4. Study Everyday. ...
  5. Complete Practice Questions. ...
  6. Participate in a Study Group.

How hard is it to pass nursing school? ›

But nursing school is notoriously difficult. Most nursing programs require high GPAs and impressive scores in math, chemistry, biology, psychology, and other demanding subjects. It's also extremely fulfilling.

How many hours of sleep do nursing students get? ›

On average, students in nursing school get 5.69 hours per night. That's probably because they're busy studying enough to get through their four-year degree program for a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN), an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a relevant diploma from an approved program.

How hard is nursing school while working full-time? ›

All of this alone equals up to 40+ hours in a week and working at a job full-time while trying to pass your nursing classes is very, very difficult. Many people who start out working full-time in the nursing program either cut down their hours at work or flunk out of the program.

Is the first year of nursing the hardest? ›

If you become a nurse, your first year on the job is often the hardest. Being in a new environment, suddenly having to use new skills, and the new responsibility of being a nurse hit you all at once. It can be overwhelming.

How do I survive my first year of nursing? ›

Here are a few tips to help you survive and thrive during your first year as a nurse:
  1. Ask questions. One of the best ways to learn as a new nurse is to ask lots of questions. ...
  2. Get to know your coworkers. ...
  3. Take time to relax. ...
  4. Learn how to prioritize. ...
  5. Set realistic goals. ...
  6. Stay positive.
Sep 7, 2017

What is the easiest class in nursing school? ›

The Easiest Classes in Nursing School
  • Social Sciences (Intro Psychology, Sociology, etc.)
  • Humanities.
  • Intro to Speech (or Communication)
  • English Composition.
  • History.
  • Using Information Technology.

Which state is the hardest to become a nurse? ›

  • MAINE. ...
  • ALASKA. ...
  • Georgia. ...
  • Alabama. ...
  • Hawaii. ...
  • South Carolina. ...
  • Kentucky. ...
  • Summary. There are a few cases when temporary licenses can be obtained through the state board of nursing.
Nov 14, 2022

What is a good nursing school GPA? ›

Most programs require at least a 2.5 GPA or higher. Some set their limit at a 3.0 GPA. This is important to find out during the research phase of your accelerated nursing program search.

What is the first thing you learn in nursing school? ›

One of the first things you will learn in nursing school is to ask questions. You will see that asking questions or reaching out for clarification and support is a common theme in nursing school. Remember, you are not alone in the journey, and once you graduate, you will be starting a gratifying career.

Is nursing school harder than actual nursing? ›

Being a Nurse is better than being in Nursing School

In nursing school, it's about 90% theory and lectures, and 10% skills and application. In the nursing profession, it's flipped: its 90% application and 10% theory and learning. In fact, you apply theory and think critically as you're working.

What is expected of a first year nursing student? ›

have a 'give-it-a-go' attitude to new skills but remember the aim of the first placement is to develop your basic skills, such as making conversation with patients, observations, assisting with personal hygiene and bed changing.

How can I increase my chances of getting into nursing school? ›

8 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting into Nursing School
  1. Write Down Your “Why” for Nursing. ...
  2. Choose a Nursing School with Multiple Start Dates. ...
  3. Ensure You Meet Admissions Requirements. ...
  4. Create a Professional Resume. ...
  5. Connect with Your Admissions Counselor. ...
  6. Start Your Prerequisites Early. ...
  7. Spend Time with Patients.
Aug 26, 2022

Do grades really matter in nursing school? ›

Grades Do Matter, but They Aren't Everything

The most important thing is that you are able to graduate through the program and pass NCLEX. However, I would encourage nursing students to work hard to keep their grades as high as possible, as there are also many benefits to maintaining a high GPA.

How do you know if nursing is not for you? ›

So, ask yourself how caring are you of other individuals and their needs. In order to be a good nurse, you have to deeply care about people. If you are one of those types of people who just worry about themselves and do not really concentrate on how to help others, then nursing really is not for you.

How can I stand out in nursing school? ›

  1. Start off prepared. ...
  2. Ask questions. ...
  3. Stay on top of assignments. ...
  4. Get outside help when you need it. ...
  5. Help fellow students study. ...
  6. Put feedback into action. ...
  7. Take responsibility. ...
  8. Go above and beyond.

What is the most important class in nursing school? ›

The health assessment nursing class is one of the most important courses that students take in nursing school. Nurses have many responsibilities, including assessing the needs of their patients. Nurses must make observations and use assessment tools to determine the course of treatment for each of their patients.

Do a lot of people fail nursing school? ›

According to a National League for Nursing study, the national dropout rate for nursing programs was 20 percent. While the attrition rate is higher for some bachelor's degree nursing programs, most people in school to become registered nurses (RNs) stayed in school and pushed through.

Is nursing school just memorization? ›

As we've already established, nursing school requires lots of memorization, client care, reading, and practical skills.

Why do people get rejected from nursing school? ›

You may not have been accepted into a nursing program if you haven't finished your prerequisite classes for nursing school. Most programs have general prerequisite classes, but some programs may have specific classes they expect students to complete before acceptance.

What should I study before nursing school? ›

Topics to review before nursing school starts
  • Fluids, fluids and more fluids. ...
  • Cardiovascular System. ...
  • Pulmonary System. ...
  • Renal System. ...
  • Acid/Base Balance. ...
  • Electrolytes. ...
  • Endocrine System and Feedback Loops. ...
  • Dimensional Analysis.
Jul 27, 2017

Is nursing the hardest degree? ›

There's a rumor circulating on the internet that The Guinness Book of Work Records has declared a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing to be the toughest of all bachelor's degrees to obtain. There's no truth to this claim.

How hard is the first year of nursing school? ›

The first year of nursing school is hard because you're starting a new venture. Not only are you learning new information specific to your industry, but you'll also be putting that education into action. Learning facts is much different than practicing them, so stretching yourself in this new way can be demanding.

How many breaks do student nurses get? ›

During a long day an adequate rest period of at least 60 minutes (may be split into two 30 minute breaks) should normally be taken.

What major is the most sleep deprived? ›

Even the choice of major makes a difference when it comes to slumber. Anthropology majors get the most sleep, whereas architecture and computer science students get the least.

How many shifts is full time nursing? ›

That said, the majority of nurses work on either 8, 10, or 12-hour shifts for 3, 4, or 5 days per week. Most full-time nurses will work for around 35-48 hours per week, depending on your unique workplace.

Should you work while studying nursing? ›

Cracking a job offer while studying nursing education is a terrific method for aspiring nurses to gain valuable experience that can help them later in their job search. Before you graduate, get your feet wet with part-time jobs for nursing students to gain vital experience.

Is it okay to work while studying nursing? ›

Many students need to work during school, whether to pay for classes, support their family members, or continue to support themselves – they have responsibilities that persist throughout the duration of the program. It's estimated that around 25% of all nursing students in the U.S. continue to work in some capacity.

Should you work while in nursing school? ›

Nursing school requires a jam-packed schedule already, so you should avoid full-time jobs or jobs that require too many hours. It's best to go with a PRN position or a part-time position where you won't be pressured into working more hours than you can handle.

What do new nurses struggle with the most? ›

All these new nurse struggles I have listed – exhaustion, anxiety, and feeling like nursing is too hard – are common to the nursing profession. You might even say that they are nothing more than the “signs and symptoms” of being a new nurse. The key is to never let these feelings defeat you.

Can you fail the NCLEX? ›

If you didn't pass the exam, you'll receive a NCLEX Candidate Performance Report (CPR). The CPR is an individualized document that shows how a candidate performed in each of the test plan content areas. Candidates who fail the exam can use the CPR as a guide to prepare them to retake the exam.

What happens if I fail the TEAS test? ›

What Happens if You Fail the TEAS Exam? Failing scores can vary between schools. You must check with your school to determine what their failing score is. However, you can always retake the exam if you want to try and achieve a higher score.

How many hours a week should a nursing student study? ›

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!

How can a nursing student survive? ›

10 Tips on How to Survive Nursing School
  1. Get to know your professors early in the semester. ...
  2. Review every single test you get back. ...
  4. Get your assignments done early. ...
  5. Get organized!!!! ...
  6. Find good study habits. ...
  7. Study during your breaks. ...
  8. Self-care is so important for nursing students.
Jan 14, 2020

How many nurses quit after first year? ›

Over 50% of nurses quit within the first five years.

More specifically, over 17% quit within the first year, and a whopping 56% quit after the first two years. This issue has also been exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, as 95% of nurses have reported feeling burnt out within the past three years.

How do you get A's in nursing school? ›

8 Nursing School Tips for Success
  1. Find Effective Study Habits. ...
  2. Get Organized. ...
  3. Ask Questions. ...
  4. Set Goals. ...
  5. Treat Nursing School Like a Full-Time Job. ...
  6. Establish Support Systems. ...
  7. Take it One Day at a Time. ...
  8. Maintain a Healthy Balance Between School and Life.
Oct 7, 2022

How do you survive in nursing school? ›

10 Tips on How to Survive Nursing School
  1. Get to know your professors early in the semester. ...
  2. Review every single test you get back. ...
  4. Get your assignments done early. ...
  5. Get organized!!!! ...
  6. Find good study habits. ...
  7. Study during your breaks. ...
  8. Self-care is so important for nursing students.
Jan 14, 2020

What are the 4 A's in nursing? ›

As a systematic process for change, this article offers the AACN's Model to Rise Above Moral Distress, describing four A's: ask, affirm, assess, and act. To help critical care nurses working to address moral distress, the article identifies 11 action steps they can take to develop an ethical practice environment.

What is a good GPA in nursing? ›

Most programs require at least a 2.5 GPA or higher. Some set their limit at a 3.0 GPA. This is important to find out during the research phase of your accelerated nursing program search. So, what if you already have a bachelor's degree or non-nursing college credits, but your GPA isn't high enough?

Is it normal to struggle in nursing school? ›

Almost everyone finds nursing school to be stressful and hard. If you don't find it stressful or ever considering dropping out of it, you are a genius. My point to you is that it is NORMAL to experience stress and struggle in nursing school and remember that everyone else around you is going through the same ordeal.

Does nursing school ever get easier? ›

Nursing school will have semesters that are easier than others. The good news is that the longer you are in nursing school, the easier it gets. The coursework may remain about the same, but it will get easier due to: The fact that you'll be used to it after a semester or two and you'll know what it takes to succeed.

What is the 80 20 rule studying? ›

Simply put, 20% or less of the studying you are doing is leading to the majority of your results. Furthermore, 20% or less of your course content comprises the majority of the content on your exams. Remember, professors (whether they know it or not) are applying the 80-20 rule to their exams.

What is the 7 3 2 1 study method? ›

What is the 7–3–2–1 method? It simply means 7 days, 3 days, 2 days, and today. Let's say you learned something you want to remember in the long-run. Now, what you should do is read it today (1), tomorrow (2), the day after tomorrow (3), and then on the 7th day from your first reading (7).


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