Whether you are taking a few minutes to review your notes for an upcoming biology exam or sweating it out for days preparing for the NCLEX, practicing good study habits in nursing education can make all the difference in the world in how you perform in a test environment. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you pull that “all-nighter”:
- Set a finite amount of time for studying: Many nursing students do not set a limit on how much time they spend studying, which can lead to endlessly reviewing facts and concepts they already know. By setting a limit (1 to 2 hour chunks of time each day) you’re forced to focus on areas that you need to brush up on, rather than a seemingly endless loop of review.
- Minimize distractions: Reviewing your nursing programs notes while you listen to your roommate babble about her new tattoo is not an effective study habit for most people. Concentration is the name of the game and in order to do that you need to make a concerted effort to eliminate outside interference. Find a place that’s quiet with limited activity that allows you to focus.
- Take breaks: For every one hour of study, take 10 minutes of break time. Get up, move around, stretch, and get the blood flowing. This allows you to physically and mentally re-charge and keeps you fresh.
- Healthy snacks: Don’t starve yourself and don’t get dehydrated. Proper nutrition will go a long way towards making your study session effective. Drink lots of water – not sugary or highly caffeinated beverages, as these will make you edgy or fatigued when the sugar or caffeine wears off. Avoid candy bars and other types of junk food as well. Substitute high-protein foods like low fat cheese or nuts to keep your energy level high.
- Avoid the last minute “cram” session: If you’ve waited until 11:30pm the night before your 8am exam the next morning to review your notes, then it’s probably too late. Once the exam date has been established, plan a study schedule that allows you to spend 1-2 hours a day studying for the exam several days before it takes place. By creating a reasonable study schedule, you avoid unnecessary stress and prevent information overload heading into the exam
Testing events are always stressful while finishing your nursing education, but by practicing proper study habits you can eliminate some common mistakes that prevent many of us from performing to our full capability.