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The best study tips for nurse practitioner students

by Angelina

Many nurses are choosing to go back to school so they can qualify as Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners (AGNPs). Balancing work, school, and home life means it is essential to use good study habits to retain the information needed to succeed and offer a high level of care to patients and their families.

This article explores study tips for AGNP students to enhance the learning experience and ensure success upon graduation.

Set a study schedule 

It is a good idea for students to set a schedule based on realistic goals. There are plenty of nursing students who have other jobs, families, and other obligations, but by setting a schedule, they can accomplish all their goals while minimizing stress loads.

Setting a schedule for at least a week is the best advice. Of course, students should add things to their schedules as they arise as well. If a student knows there is a test in two weeks, then they should add that to their planner, for example. Some people find that adding in all the obligations they know they have for a month first, then adding in other things as they are planned, works well. Prioritizing can be achieved by marking some things as more important than others to keep the schedule organized.

Identify a successful study style 

People learn in different ways, so it is important for students to figure out if they learn best by reading, writing out information, reciting, or using visual aids. It may be that an individual’s learning style changes depending on the type of information they are trying to learn.

Taking good notes is helpful for students no matter their study style, but when it comes to major studying, students should stick to what works. For example, if a student does best with visual aids, then videos, graphs and charts might be just what they need. Some students find YouTube videos or other online videos to help them understand the concepts they are studying in nursing school.

Always prioritize

Making a list of what they need to accomplish each week and prioritizing the most important things is important for students’ success. Prioritizing helps students avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensures that they take care of the most important tasks rather than procrastinating by doing easier or less important tasks first.

When it comes to studying, this means students can focus on studying the most important things first.

Good prioritization helps students accomplish goals in advance, which is especially helpful for students who are juggling work, home, and school life.

Find or organize a study group

Group study does not negate the need to study individually, but it does have a lot of value.

Studying in a group can help students focus and allows everyone in the group to benefit from each other’s strengths. For example, one person in a study group may have a much better understanding of an important test topic than another, but that student may understand another area better in turn. In a group, students can quiz each other and ask questions if a particular concept is not clear.

If meeting in person is not possible or convenient, then students can create an online study group using Google Meet, Zoom, or other video conferencing platforms.

Create practice questions using lecture notes

For students, quizzing themselves or finding fellow nursing students to study with and quiz each other is a very effective study method. This enables students to prepare for many different questions in one go. When using this method in a group, students can split up the work so each person creates four to five questions on a topic. By dividing and assigning questions, students can avoid repetition and lessen the load of creating questions so they can spend more time quizzing each other.

Manage physical and mental health

Nursing school is an exciting and busy time. To stay on top of things, students need to make sure that they are taking good care of themselves both physically and mentally. This means they need to eat right and avoid consuming a lot of sugar, alcohol, etc.

It can be very easy for students to try to do too much when they are juggling responsibilities. While creating a schedule and prioritizing is helpful, students may be tempted to over-schedule or take on additional tasks beyond their schedule. Students who try to pack too much into a 24-hour period often start to experience a negative effect on their mental and physical well-being.

While being motivated and driven is admirable as a student, there is a point where their performance will suffer. The concept of quality over quantity is important to remember.

Visual aids 

Charts and diagrams can make it a lot easier to absorb complicated concepts and information. Students who tend to be visual or hands-on learners should rely on visual aids for studying even more than the average nursing student. Some of the most common visual aids used to study are pathology maps. This involves breaking up each of the pathologies students are studying to create a concept map for each. Students could use the form of a timeline, chart, or whatever works best for them. By creating this visual aid, they can stay organized and observe the overview of each pathology to ensure they are not missing an area of study.

Students attending classes online should consider rewatching any parts of lectures that they are having a harder time comprehending.

Reading and reciting information out loud

Reading or reciting information out loud can help students retain concepts and determine areas they need to concentrate studies on. If a student can easily recall details of a concept and state them out loud, then they are likely ready for that section of a test or a related paper they need to write.

Reciting information also prepares students for their clinical placements, where they must respond to questions or demonstrate their knowledge. During a clinical placement, students will need to recall information while performing sometimes demanding duties. There will likely be times when students need to show their knowledge verbally and recall information very quickly.

Break studying up into smaller sections

Super-long study sessions might occasionally be necessary, but students should try to break them up into smaller chunks of time whenever possible and remember to take breaks. Trying to concentrate for too long doesn’t always lead to learning more. For students, taking breaks gives their minds time to absorb information better and allows them to have a snack or drink, for example. Staying well-nourished and hydrated is important.

Avoid panicking before a test

Pulling a very long study session or staying up later than necessary the night before a test is not a good idea. Students who find themselves doing this should reassess how they are scheduling their study time. The night before a test, students should eat well and get a good night’s rest after spending a regular study session reviewing the information they will be tested on.

To avoid panicking, students should remember that if they have been studying on a schedule and had no problems recalling the information, then they shouldn’t have trouble passing the test. Exams are not meant to be cruel or trick students. If students study the information provided through coursework and understand it, then they will know it.

Set up a reward system

Students should celebrate their accomplishments. A reward system may be as simple as awarding a piece of caramel if study goals for the day have been met. Alternatively, students may treat themselves to a night out after a long week or two of studying and meeting goals.

Regardless of the milestones and goals a student has, a reward system offers an incentive to complete those goals and enjoy the moment!

Create several different study spaces 

Sometimes, it can be good for students to change where they study from time to time. Those who are studying a lot during a particular day may even want to change where they study more often than every other session.

Students who can study well with others around them might try studying away from home sometimes. Libraries and coffee shops are popular choices.

Consider reviewing the material before class

When students know what a lecture will be about, they can consider reviewing materials before they listen to the lecture. This allows them to focus on the most important aspects with some knowledge beforehand. It is also an excellent idea to review the previous materials before advancing to the next class. This ensures everything remains fresh in the minds of students so they are prepared for the next step.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions 

Asking questions is important for individuals studying to be an AGNP. For success, they should time their questions appropriately. For example, during clinical placements, students should wait to ask questions until they have one-on-one time with their preceptor, or at least hold off on extensive questioning until they are away from a patient.

Furthermore, students should ask for help whenever they need it. Their advisors, professors, and preceptors are there to help them gain the skills needed to become an AGNP and offer help when they are unclear on anything at all during their time as a student.

Students feeling overwhelmed balancing work, school, and home life should ask a partner or loved one for help during particularly busy times. Parents or friends may be able to help students with childcare or take on dinner duty a few nights a week, for example. Often, there are people willing to help, but students may be afraid to ask.

Nurse practitioners are in high demand 

It could be argued that with increasing numbers of people having access to health insurance, there is increased demand for primary care doctors. While a Nurse Practitioner (NP) is not the same as a Doctor of Medicine (MD), they can provide many of the services necessary for preventative care and continued care of chronic health conditions.

A large population of aging adults means many nurses are considering advanced training to become an Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner. Wilkes University offers an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program that allows those with a current Registered Nurse (RN) license in good standing to become an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) in just two years. All classes are online, with only a single residency required for the program. Students must complete 500 clinical placement hours to qualify to take any tests required for licensing in their state of practice. Wilkes University’s program offers classes that reflect the changing world of nursing and help nurses learn how to connect and serve underprivileged and underserved populations.


Studying doesn’t have to be stressful or challenging if students know their learning style and take the time to plan out and prioritize a study schedule and other obligations.

Maintaining self-care while working and earning a degree is very important. It is easy for students to take on too much or try to do more, no matter how much they are already achieving. Taking time to rest and do something they enjoy every day will help them accomplish more than if they push themselves too much.

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