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Ninja study skills

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We’re about to start a new nursing school semester, meaning a new round of classes and, of course, a new round of exams.

How do you study? It’s really not as easy as it sounds. Here are some helpful things I do:

Make a plan 

I try to create a plan of attack. I calculate how much information I have to review and consume, and I then divvy up what I have to cover over the amount of time I have available to study. I like to call it my study budget. If I stick to this plan, I can avoid the last minute cram.

Stack ’em up 

I gather up all my studying materials and park it in my study area. I mean everything I can get my hands on. This includes my books, study guides, lecture notes, practice tests and other resource materials, like online texts, web sites and even my iPhone.

Place setting 

This is an interesting one. Over my years as a student, I’ve changed my study scenery and environment. I went from lying on my bed with everything splayed out on the bed and floor to a computer desk. I went from having music or the TV playing in the background to having no noise at all. Whatever your choice may be, make sure it’s ideal for your concentration and focus. Keep the distractions to a minimum.

School supplies 

I’m a Post-it note freak. Post-it notes and highlighters are my best study buddies. Yep, I’m a color-coding fool as well. I color code topics, actions, subjects, concepts and anything else I can think of that will help me learn and absorb information. I’ve realized over the years that I’m a very visual and tactile learner, so the more colors I use the better. I also like to draw schematics and graphs to facilitate a concept I’m trying to memorize or learn.

Change direction 

This was a great tip I learned from a former professor: Change the sequence of how you are studying a subject every time you visit the subject. Your mind has a tendency to relate topics by timeline and sequence. So if you study A then B then C every time, your mind will only be queued for concept C after B, instead of learning C independent of another concept. Try reviewing the concept A-B-C, then when you revisit the topic review it B-A-C (or another combination). You’ll find that you forget concepts the first time you rearrange the sequence!

Lastly, if you’re nodding off from exhaustion, take a break. You’re not going to absorb anything that way! I remember reading about how the mind only can accept new information in time chunks of roughly 40 to 55 minutes at a time. So marathon studying sessions won’t get you anywhere.

Best of luck!

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