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Uh oh, nursing finals time! It is no secret that the end of the semester in nursing school is undeniably the most stressful. This is the time when we are all calculating what kind of grade we can get on our nursing finals and still pass the class. Trust me, we’ve ALL been there!
Would it be super crazy if I told you that studying for nursing finals for me was a breeze? I refused to let the end of the semester finals craze interfere with all of the hard work I had put in throughout the semester, so I came up with a method that helped me ace every single nursing final every. single. semester.
Yes, it can be done. Here are the 5 steps I came up with
that allowed me to not only study thoroughly and completely for my finals, but
ensured I passed every final with a 92% or higher.
1. Organize your study materials.
Start with organizing everything you will need to study for
finals. This means gathering ALL lecture
materials for the entire semester including cheat sheets, lab values for
particular content sections, practice questions you used, and any supplemental
materials provided by your instructor or things you’ve created on your own to
master the content.
Organizing your materials BEFORE studying does a couple of things:
Allows you to see how much material you really
have to go over for each content section (this is IMPORTANT and must be done before continuing on to the next steps
in my nursing finals studying process)
Enables you to effectively map out a study
schedule/timeline so that you are prepared and ready to test come finals day
Ensures you are not missing any important
content or documents because let’s face it, things get misplaced and lost all
of the time so this gives you the opportunity to figure out if you’re missing
anything and also gives you time to get whatever you’re missing from a friend
or your professor
Sidenote: During the course of the semester, I store all of my notes in a LARGE 2-inch binder so all of my notes are in one place. I use one binder per class and label the front of the binder with the class name (makes it super easy to refer back to during finals time!). Also, invest in a 3-hole punch to make storing your notes even easier.
Now that we are organized, and you have all of your notes
for the semester, it’s time to see how much information you have to go over
before finals start!
2. Determine what you will study for your nursing finals, when, and for how long.
This is the step where you will need a calendar of some sort. On the calendar, circle the date of your final and then GO BACK 2-3 weeks and circle that date. This is the date you will start studying for your final exam!
Next, count up the number of content sections you went over during
the course of that semester. For example, during my hardest semester of nursing
school, we covered gastrointestinal, cardiac, respiratory, and endocrine
disorders. I would generally have anywhere from 3-5 packets of content to
go over for each section we covered.
So, let’s say I have 12 packets of notes to study for my
final and I am starting 3 weeks prior to when I have to take my finals. I will
divide the number of packets by the number of weeks I gave myself to study. For
this example, I would study 4 packets per week. Not bad, right?
Using this method, the amount of content suddenly didn’t seem
completely overwhelming and daunting. It also allowed me a few extra days per
week to unwind and spend time with family, friends, and not stress myself out.
It is all about balance.
Now that you’re organized and know how many subjects you
need to get through before the final, we can dig into starting the actual study
3. Study the content you struggled the most with FIRST!
I cannot stress this enough! Cardiac was by far the most
time consuming and hardest section of the semester for me so I started studying
my cardiac notes first. You should do this for a few reasons:
The harder the content, the longer it will take
you to get through – starting with the hardest content first allows you to
spend more time on it and not feel rushed or stressed trying to get through it
if you were to put it off to the very last
You will probably have more questions or need
more clarification on the harder content as opposed to the easier content, so
this gives you time to ask questions or seek additional guidance from other
resources to clarify your knowledge
Answering practice questions after going over the content tests
your knowledge and reinforces key concepts – all of which contribute to retaining
the most important information so you can pull it from your long-term memory on
Also super important is to keep a tally of which questions you
missed, read all rationales for both RIGHT AND WRONG answers to determine why you
missed the question/why you got the questions correct, and then re-do
the missed questions.
5. Once you finish a content section, MOVE ON!
When you finish a content section/study packet, continue to follow
your schedule and move on to the next. Studying for finals should NOT be a cram session. You’ve already
studied this content for the unit exams, so studying for finals should be more
of a review
session than anything.
This is why I also stress working hard at the beginning of the
semester so when nursing finals roll around, all you truly need to do is just
Now, for a quick
Gather and organize your notes for the entire semester to prepare yourself for studying for nursing finals
Determine how much time you will give yourself to study and divide the content over the amount of time you think you need to go over all of it
Answer practice questions after you finish each content section
Read all rationales for both right AND wrong answers, and re-do any missed questions
Once you finish a section, MOVE ON!
This method was fool-proof for me and many of my classmates
adopted my finals study method with amazing results! Do you think you
will give this method a shot?