Tips for New Nursing Students: How to be Successful in Nursing School

Tips for New Nursing Students: How to be Successful in Nursing School

Nursing school success tips

Nursing school can be very exciting and overwhelming at the same time. The only way to understand the difficulty of the nursing program is truly to experience it.

Nursing students will be required to learn so many concepts and health issues and diseases in a very short period of time.

In fact, what makes nursing school harder than other program is the difficult materials that will be thrown at you throughout the entire program.

The clinical placement, adds to everything.

Back in my nursing school days,I had a job while attending school and I also had to show up to my clinical placements too.

It was difficult, however, If I made it through nursing school, I trust that you can make it too by following the list of tips for nursing school success that I have put together.

Study Everyday

tips for nursing school success

To be successful in nursing school, It is important to study every single day.

Study at least 3 hours every day at a specific time and stick to it. Getting behind in a class in nursing school can be a disaster.

Your class material can quickly become overwhelming if you do not study everyday because assignments will start to pile up.

Know your Best Study Time of the Day

Do you get work done in the morning? or are you a person that gets a lot done at night? or maybe the middle of the day is your best study time? Everyone has a specific time of the day when they get the most work done.

Personally, I am a morning person. Hence, in nursing school, I was more productive in the morning and so I usually got a lot of work done at this time of the day than at any other time.

In some cases, it may take a few trial and error periods to figure out your best study time. So if you are unsure about when you most productive time of the day is, just give it a bit more time and you will figure it out soon enough.

Know Your Learning style

Nursing student study tips

Most people learn differently. Some people are visual, others are auditory. In most cases, people are a combination of different learning styles.

For example a person who is 53% auditory and 34% visual means that the individual is mostly auditory but can also use some visual method to complement their learning.

It is essential, to understand your Learning style because this will help you study more effectively and hence you will be successful in nursing school.

If you are unsure what Your Learning style is, there are numerous free learning style quizzes that can be found online. Take the quiz to find out what your learning style is.

Form a Small Study Group

Advice for new nursing students

Find a group of people (preferably 3-4 people) who you are focused and are motivated to get work done and form a study group with them.

Choose a group where every individual contributes to the group either by explaining concepts or asking thought provoking questions. Your study group sessions should be a great opportunity for members to exchange or compare study notes, bounce idea and practice for an upcoming test or exam.

Ask Questions

Tips for nursing school success

Always ask questions when in doubt. There is no such thing as a stupid question. If you have a question just ask.

Close your eyes for a brief second, take a deep breath, raise up your hand and ask, I assure you that there were probably so many others who wanted to ask the exact same question.

If you have an assignment or a project and are not sure about what you are supposed to do, ask the professor to clarify the assignment/project.

It is better to understand the assignment so that you will do a good job than to assume wrongly and get a low mark on it.

Stay on top of Your Work

A great way to prevent being overwhelmed in nursing school is to stay on top of your readings and assignments.

Get a planner to organize your schedule and important dates during the first week of the semester.

Do the assigned readings and assignments each day as you get them, do not wait for them to pile up as this will affect your productivity later.

If you are all caught up on all your reading for that week, get a head start on the readings for the upcoming week.

Similarly, review classwork ahead of time. Read through text before you get to class, doing this will help you stay on track.

Set SMART Goals

Nursing tips for success

When setting goals, keep it real. Ask yourself, is this goal specific, achievable, time-bound and measurable.

If the answer is yes, then you will be much more successful in reaching your goals. Of course, it is so easy to say that you will study for ten hours over the weekend, but is that attainable for you? Can you aim for a shorter study session still make it happen?

The key is to set smart goals based on what you know that you are capable of and is realistic.

Find a Mentor

Nursing school tips success

To be successful in nursing school you need to find a senior nursing student in your program to be your mentor.

Your mentor will provide you with tips and advice about the program and ways that you can be successful

Manage Your Time Effectively

Nursing school success tips

Get a calendar or a planner. Write down class times, important dates, assignment due dates, test dates, placements, study time, and even family time.

This way you will be sure to know what you need to be doing and when you need to be doing it. Plan ahead and spend enough time every day to study.

Manage your time effectively by doing all your work at the scheduled time. Do not procrastinate, being prepared for class and lectures. You will do well in nursing school if you manage your time properly.

Study Smart not Hard

Tips for new nursing students

The hard way to study for a test is cramming. Some people have gotten away with cramming for a test the day before.

Unfortunately, you will fail miserably if you try to do this in nursing. In nursing school, the test questions are based on real-life scenarios and you will need to understand the material in order to answer the question and so cramming does not work.

Here are some additional tips to make your study time work more effectively for you:

  • Do a focused Study: Study smarter by focusing on the task at hand rather than on your smartphone or TV set. When you study go to a quiet area and focus on studying the material for that period of time without using your devices or multitasking. You will get so much done this way.
  • Take breaks: When studying, break up your studying into sections with a break, For example, study for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break. When you study for 40 minutes take a 10-minute break. Do not study for long hours at a time without a break.
  • Avoid Distractions: Switch off all cell phones and mobile devices during the study period. To minimize distractions. Use your cellphone only during study breaks.
  • Take notes effectively: Always take detailed notes of what your professor says in class because often times these concepts usually appear on the test. Consider recording the lecture, if you are not a fast note taker. But be sure to ask for permission from your professor before recording the lecture, not every professor will be okay with you recording the lecture without asking.
  • Practice: When you finish studying a particular section, do a quick summary of what you have just learned and also do some practice test questions to test your knowledge. Check to see if you can answer them without your notes.

Get the Required Text

Tips for nursing school success

In nursing school, you will be required to buy some pretty expensive and huge textbooks.

Ensure that you have the required text. If you do not have the text, you can borrow it from your local library.

To be successful in a particular course, it is important to have the required text, but you can also use other similar textbooks to supplement your reading, as needed.

Create a Good Study Space

Nursing student study tips

Having a good study space at home is important in nursing school because there will be times when you will have to study at home.

Have a study desk and comfortable seat for your study space.

This is a tricky one because you want your study space to be comfortable, but not too comfortable so that you fall asleep while studying.

Try to avoid studying on top of your bed. Your mind will associate your bed with rest and so when you lay on the bed to study, you will end up dozing off.

Make sure that your workspace is neat as an uncluttered and tidy workspace will enable you to get stuff done quicker.

Find a Balance

When I first started nursing school, studying took up so much of my time and I barely had any social life.

I was able to have a healthy work-life by spending time with my family and friends on the weekends and taking part in extracurricular activities in school.

By the end of my first year, I had a healthy work-life balance.

I am not suggesting that you go to the extreme with any of these things.

For instance, spending so much time with your friends and family so that you do not get any work done. Or only studying and ignoring your loved ones.

But rather, try to find a healthy balance.

It is good to have a good work-life balance because it will help prevent you from burning -out.

Studies even show that students who have a healthy work-life balance have a tendency of performing better in school than students who do not.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle

nursing student study tips

Eat healthy and go to the gym. Take some time to take care of yourself. Living a healthy lifestyle, decreases your chances of falling sick.

A healthy lifestyle boosts your immune system and fuels your body, giving you the energy to make it through the tough situations.

Get Some Quality Clinical Equipments

Advice for new nursing students

As a nursing student, you will be required to have some essential tools that you will help you prepare for your future career.

The major equipment that you want to have is a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. Other tools that may be useful include penlight, retractable ID card holder, nursing kits e.t.c.

Be sure to get good quality equipment that will last you through the entire process. Check out this article on the best stethoscopes for nursing students

Get Enough Sleep

Tips for nursing school success

Getting enough sleep every night will help you do well in nursing school. In fact, studies show that good sleep can significantly affect your memory, ability to be productive, and your performance on exams.

Also, not getting enough sleep can decrease your immunity and increase your chances of falling sick. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Make sleep a priority and you will do great in nursing school.

Do NCLEX Practice Questions

The NCLEX is the final exam that Nursing graduates have to write to become license. Start practicing for this exam as early as possible.

Practice topics that you are currently learning as this will give you a chance to test your knowledge and practice what you already know.

Additional Tips for Commuters

Nursing school tips for success

When I was in nursing school, I had to commute for 2 hours daily to get to school, for a period of 4 years and so I quickly learned how to cope and utilize my travel time to get work done.

Study on the Bus

Some people can find this distracting, while it works for others. Studying on the bus is a great way to go in nursing school, especially because you have so much material to cover and so little time.

Create colourful flashcards that you can study on the bus, this is perfect for visual learners. By studying on the bus you save yourself the time that could have been wasted.

Do this with caution though, so that you do not miss your stop.

Record Your Voice

Another trick I have tried is to record my voice while studying at home and then listen to my recorded notes on the bus or on my drive home.

This works very well if you are an auditory, you will be learning on the go.

Bring Extra Food or Snacks

It is hard to get much work done when you are hungry. When I was in nursing school, I sometimes had to stay back to get a group project done or finish an assignment.

So be sure to bring extra snacks with you just in case you have to stay back in school to get some work done. Having additional food or snack goes a long way.


tips for new nursing students

Essentially, these great tips for nursing school success provided in this article will not only help you survive nursing school but will also ensure that you are successful in your nursing journey.

Always keep in mind the big picture, which is for you to eventually become a licensed nurse. In the end, all your hard work will pay off and you will be a nurse.

If you have any comments, feedback or questions. I would like to hear from you.

kindly share them in the comment section below.

Thank you for reading!


Pam is the founder and author of InfoWatchNurse and ThinkStethoscopes. Pam is an award-winning leader. In 2017, She pioneered the first ever peer tutoring program for nursing students at York University. She was also a Peer Tutor and Mentor for nursing students. Today, Pam creates posts and articles on health topics to give back to the nursing community.  She blogs about nursing, health, nursing skills and other health related topics on her websites. You can connect with Pam on Linkedin and Instagram.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Pam excellent post. I am a licensed nurse myself and can relate to your post. It is very important as you mentioned to know one’s learning style even while selecting study group, ensure they are group that have similar goals and learning style. In nursing practice, practice is very importance. I can not emphasize enough the importance of hands on practice. Flashcards are excellent for studying drug class, effects and side effects and even medical terminologies. Excellent post, keep it up and thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience.

    1. Hi Gina,

      Thank you for your comment

      Have a great day!



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