Study Skills


It’s no secret that nursing school requires lots, and I do mean LOTS of study time. During nursing school, you’ll learn about various health topics, including anatomy and physiology, pharmaceuticals, pathophysiology, and advanced nursing concepts. All this learning will prepare you for your nursing career and help you pass various tests and exams, including the NCLEX. But do you know how to study effectively? Have you developed a system that effectively uses your study time and delivers the best results? Whether you have a tried-and-true study method or are still navigating how to study in school, take a moment and read further to learn how to identify your learning styles and apply practical tools to enhance your study skills. 

If you are interested in additional tips, tricks, and methods for developing successful study skills, check out NurseHub’s study skills course.

    What are study skills?

    Study skills are the techniques and abilities to learn and study new skills effectively. Study skills are transferable, meaning you can carry these skills into new learning situations and across your professional career. Study skills can be used in any discipline, regardless of age, the degree you are obtaining, or if you are a part-time or full-time student. These skills can be used to better prepare for exams, complete assignments, and efficiently study new concepts needed in your studies. Developing your study skills requires patience, dedication, self-awareness, and much practice. Once you develop the skills and methods that work best for your learning style, spend dedicated time practicing these skills, creating the proper environment, and evaluating and modifying how the skills work for you. 

    Having proper study skills can provide the following benefits:

    • Increased confidence
    • Enhanced focus and concentration
    • Improved time management 
    • Increased organization 


    Understanding Your Learning Style

    Identifying learning styles and understanding how to study are vital skills that can help nursing students, not only while in school but also once they become nurses. Understanding how you best learn will allow you to develop optimal study habits in school and beyond. Once you graduate, you’ll continue to learn practical skills throughout your career, and understanding your learning style will facilitate how you know the intricacies of each role you pursue. Remember, nurses are lifelong learners, so understanding our learning styles and applying great study habits can accelerate our professional growth and development! 

    I’ve taken the learning style assessment provided by NurseHub’s Study Skills course and learned I’m a visual learner. It explains why in my nursing career, I’ve learned better by seeing pictures, reading, and having organized notes that included lots of highlighting. 

    Typically, when discussing learning styles, there are three main types. These are the manners in which individuals most effectively learn. These styles include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile. 

    • Visual Learners: Visual learners learn better when they watch or visualize topics. They tend to remember written things and can quickly memorize and recall information. The strengths of visual learners are that they are also typically good at spelling and grammar, comprehend charts rapidly, and can translate complex ideas into a visually appealing format. 

    Several strategies for visual learners to have successful study habits include:

    • Highlighting and color-coding concepts in your study notes
    • Create pictures, graphs, and charts using your notes
    • Ask for demonstrations since visual learners do better when they see how something is done. 
    • Create your own practice tests 

    • Auditory Learners: Auditory learning involves listening as the primary method of learning new skills. Auditory learners tend to hold on to information best when it is spoken or heard. They typically favor being directed on how to complete a specific task, with the primary objectives being spoken out loud to help them memorize. Additionally, those who identify as auditory learners are also known for being able to follow verbal directions, can be influential team members in a study group and are excellent at working through complicated tasks by talking out loud. 

    Several strategies for auditory learners to have successful study skills include:

    • Recording class lectures. 
    • Record and listen to yourself saying key terms and definitions
    • Sit close to the front of the classroom
    • Listen to music while studying
    • Read notes and textbooks out loud


    • Tactile/Kinesthetic Learners: Kinesthetic, or tactile learners, learn best by being physically engaged during the teaching and learning. Typically, kinesthetic learners are known to have high energy levels, have excellent hand-eye coordination, and can physically duplicate a task after doing it once. These learners work best when they have the task or learning experience demonstrated to them instead of verbally explained. Another strength of this learning style is that these individuals like to learn new material with a hands-on approach and prefer working in groups. 


    Several strategies for tactile/kinesthetic learners to have successful study skills include:

    • Be physically active while learning a new topic. For example, these learners could read study notes while riding an exercise bike. 
    • Take frequent study breaks
    • Do more studying while standing up instead of sitting down
    • Use creative tools such as blocks and figurines to demonstrate a particular concept or topic. 


    How to Retain Information 

    So now that you understand why it’s essential to build proper study habits and you’ve identified your learning style let’s discuss the most effective methods for retaining study information. There are several ways you can successfully use the information you’ll learn in school.  These methods include studying a small amount each day, reading nursing school topics, and reflecting on the effectiveness of your study strategies. 

    • Study small amounts each day: To create study times, it’s crucial to identify the optimal times of day where you learn best. Some people are focused early in the morning after a cup of coffee, while others consider themselves night owls, opting to study later in the evening and late at night.  Set aside dedicated time each day that you can devote to studying. Developing a study routine will not only allow you to commit dedicated time each day to your studies but will reduce stress about “squeezing” studying into your busy practice. Apps such as the Pomodoro Timer, Evernote, and Time Tune focus on creating schedules and can help boost productivity and time management. Most of these apps offer basic services for free, with a charge for premium features. Also, If you’re interested in learning more about time management, check out NurseHub’s Time Management course
    • Reading in nursing school: It’s no secret that nursing school requires lots of reading. Reading words in your textbook without any proper study skills will not provide any active engagement in your study materials. It’s possible to forget portions of what we read if we just read the words and don’t apply and study the reading material. One effective form of reading is to skim read. Skim reading helps determine what information is essential. Review the headings, terms, summary highlights, and subheadings when skim reading. Practice active engagement, which can allow you to construct meaningful information from the text. 
    • Reflecting on your strategy: Once you’ve developed study strategies, it’s important to take some time to reflect and review if these strategies are practical for you. One way to ensure your systems are effective is by applying what you’ve learned to real-life scenarios and during test taking. If you realize your selected strategies are less than ideal, now is the time to review and revise your strategy and develop new methods that will be beneficial. 

    Choosing the Right Setting

    In addition to understanding how to study and retain information, choosing the right setting for a study session is crucial. Make sure to select a consistent study setting, utilizing the same space at the same time every day. Choose an area that is peaceful and free of distractions and noise and allows you to focus. Ensure proper lighting, the right temperature, and easy access to your study materials. Study materials include your computer, textbooks, pens/highlighters, snacks, and notebooks. Depending on your learning style, you may need wordless music, a standing desk, flashcards, or a fidget device near you. 

    Once you’ve identified your ideal learning method, created an environment for studying, and begun studying your nursing materials, make sure you take plenty of breaks. It can also be beneficial to start or join a study group. Study groups are a great way to share study tips, helpful insight into nursing concepts, and a way to provide confidence and moral support for each other. Also, consider using sources such as peer-reviewed articles and professional and government websites like the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. 

    Study Skills Wrap-Up

    So there you have it! You’ve learned why study skills are essential for academic and professional success, how to identify your learning style and the best ways to maximize your study time. Remember, developing the right study skills will take practice, dedication, and even trial and error. But rest assured, once you develop the skills and habits that will work best for your learning style and lifestyle, you’ll be on your way to being an avid learner! 

    If you’d like to join a group specifically for nursing students with access to more tips, motivation, and student support, be sure to join our Nursing 101 group

    Remember to follow NurseHub on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Pinterest for even more tips! 


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