Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Fairmont State University School of Nursing: Pathways for Success Program-Part 1: Module 6: Study Skills

This guide is intended to assist nursing school students at Fairmont State University


Metacognition is a process where the learner monitors their learning. This process is supported by active learning techniques. There are many study skills that support metacognition. Many are described in this module.

Devote time to each nursing course every day.  This breaks up the material and allows you to tackle it in smaller pieces  Begin studying for the test as soon as the unit begins.  Avoid last minute cramming.  


Preview reading and other materials

Previewing the material BEFORE class prepares your brain for the information that will be presented in class. Scan the chapter, note the headings, bold terms , and boxes or diagrams. Formulate questions to be asked and answered in class.

Look at the materials posted in Blackboard. Note the schedule for the unit, and be aware of assignment due dates

Go to Class

Evidence shows that students that go to class are more successful than students who do not regularly attend class. Nursing courses have an attendance policy for this very reason.

Hand Write Class Notes

Hand writing notes enhances learning. This is backed up by research. Many students say they type to keep up with the lecture. When taking notes by hand, you are listening to the professor and deciding what the key elements are. You are jotting down information to jog your memory when you review your notes later.

Review Class Notes

Review your class notes as soon as possible after class. Fill in areas that are sketchy. Note where you have questions, write these down, and ask your professor at the next class.

Concept Map

Concept maps allow you to make your thinking visible. If you are having trouble understanding a body system, then draw it out. Use different colors, add pictures, label the connections to demonstrate how the different parts interact.

Take a clinical situation and draw a concept map applying the nursing process. A patient has risk for falling. What assessments are required? What interventions will the nurse implement? What effect may this have on the plan of care? How will the nurse assess the effectiveness of the interventions?

Consider patient education needs, what information does the patient need to take their medication safely and manage their illness at home?

Self Quiz

Use Evolve Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ) or Prep-U. You have paid for these resources. Answering questions gives you practice retrieving information. Set a goal of a minimum of questions to be answered every day in each nursing course. Challenge yourself to increase your competency level. Which questions are you getting wrong? That's an area where you should be concentrating your studying.

Read the Book

Read the textbook and any articles suggested by the instructor.  Concentrate on the content covered in class.  Not everything in the text will be covered, the instructor will expect you to cover background information on your own. For example, anatomy and physiology was covered in a class you had previously, valuable class time will not be used to review this information.  If you are unclear on the anatomy and physiology for that unit, be sure to review it before class.

Take notes as you read.  Do you have questions?  Write them down.  Take these to class and ask.

Develop the habit of active reading.  Paraphrase the information as you are reading.  Write a summary of the information.  How does this relate to what you already know?  What is new and unfamiliar?  Why would a nurse need to know this information?  How would this information be used in the clinical area?  

Do Case Studies

Case studies are designed to have you apply information presented in class.  These can be in the form of HESI Case Studies and Patient Reviews or word documents placed in Blackboard.  Sometimes the answer key is posted with the case study.  Do the case study without looking at the answer key.  Apply what you have learned.  It can be so tempting to look at the answers first, but do resist that temptation.  It is important to identify where your knowledge gaps are.  This helps you to target your precious study time.


Use Intense Study Sessions

Intense Study Sessions should be limited to an hour.  Studying for hours on end overloads your working memory.  Schedule your study time, plan for 3 to 5 sessions each day.  

Step 1 - (1 -2 min) What concepts or information is unclear to you?  The key here is to identify areas that you do not fully understand.  Do not waste your time by studying what you already know.

Step 2 - (30-50 min) Study with focus.  Interact with the material.  Concept map, make flash cards, summarize material, do case studies, fill-in notes, re-read what you do not understand, organize the material, do questions on PrepU or EAQ.

Step 3 - (10- 15 min) Take a break - go for a walk, talk to a friend, get a snack

Step 4 - (5 min) Review what you studied.  Do I understand, can I apply this information?  Do I need to return to it later?