Tests are part and parcel of school, and are especially important in higher education; whether it’s midterms and finals in college, language exams or massive paid exams required for certifications, tests are used to demonstrate each student’s knowledge of the material and determine whether or not they’ll pass.
Studying for an adequate amount of time before taking the NCLEX is vital (ignore the nursing pun), as it has a direct impact on your final test score. However, simply setting aside a large amount of study time won’t guarantee high test scores; the effectiveness of studying is just as important as the amount of time is spent on the material. To aid the study process, here are ten common study mistakes nursing students make, and how to avoid them.
#1. Studying Too Much
Studying for longer tends to produce higher test scores, but there comes a point where study length begins to have an adverse effect on grades. This is especially true for nursing students, as so much of your time is tied up in working. Also, since being a nurse tends to be more stressful than, say, an accountant, the effect of too much time spent studying may exacerbate things even more. Prepping for longer than 9 hours can cause a loss in focus, failure to retain the information, and fatigue from cutting into time better spent sleeping—since sleep is a commodity in the nursing world, try to get as much as possible!
#2. Studying Too Soon
It’s not a good idea to study a few hours before the NCLEX, even if students believe this means the information will be fresh in their minds. Studies have shown that relational memory is directly related to sleep, so the most ideal time to study is at least 24 hours before the test so you can sleep on the information.
#3. Studying in One Place
While students may have an ideal study location, such as a library, your bedroom, or a hospital bed that’s not taken, it’s far better to study in a few different locations. Frequent changes in environment will lead to a stronger memory of the study material, as environmental context reinforces memory.
#4. Studying All Night
As previously mentioned, sleep plays a vital role in your memory. All-nighters are okay every so often, but nursing students need a decent amount of sleep after study sessions in order to retain the information they stored. If you’re too pressed for time to get a good night’s sleep, try to get a power nap in at the very least.
#5. Studying Only One Way
It’s important to take the material students are studying and apply it in different ways. It’s important for students to read different sections out loud, transcribe notes onto paper with a pen, and quiz themselves with flashcards. If they simply memorize the study guide, instead of gaining any practical knowledge, they’ll just be able to regurgitate the study guide on a blank sheet of paper.
#6. Studying on an Empty Stomach
To study better, your brain needs to have the proper nutrients. Most nursing students already know of the benefits caffeine has on focus, but there are some other foods that will improve your memory and concentration, such as avocados, fish and dark chocolate. Also, find a nutritionist at your hospital and get them to give you a basic meal plan—this should be somewhat easy if you have good relationships with your coworkers.
#7. Studying Alone
Students can be prone to distraction and cause mistakes in their notes that they’ll fail to catch IF they study alone. Studying with a partner or a study group will ensure students get through material quickly, and can compare notes to ensure accuracy.
#8. Studying in a Bad Mood
Most students can get easily stressed out, especially as the NCLEX date approaches. As a result, that stress may cause their memory to suffer. It’s important to encourage students to relax before any study session. They could try meditation, light exercise, or breathing essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus. Those options can soothe those nerves and clear their head.
#9. Studying Without Breaks
Be sure to encourage students to take frequent breaks when studying for long periods of time. An effective study schedule is the Pomodoro Technique, which recommends taking short breaks every 25 minutes of work, with longer breaks interspersed over longer periods.
#10. Studying With Distractions
Technology can be very helpful when studying, but it is just as likely to be detrimental due to the limitless distractions of smartphones and the Internet. Students should try turning off their phone or disabling the network connection on their computer. Without the distractions they may find it easier to concentrate and be more productive.
Studying for the NCLEX can be daunting, but not impossible. It’s important for students to plan out their study sessions ahead of time, so they can devote enough time and energy to the study process. Similarly, it’s imperative that their mental and physical health isn’t neglected during their studies. Sharing these techniques with your class will make the studying process easier and get students ready for any test at any education level.
About the Author
Crush the NCLEX is an online resource dedicated to helping professionals pass the NCLEX Exam on their first try. They provide reviews of NCLEX study materials and provide unmatched study strategies to fast track each student’s success. Learn more at http://crushthenclex.com/.