How Do You Get Straight A’s In Nursing School? Our 11 Winning Tips

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Is it your goal to earn straight A’s in nursing school? Contrary to what many people say, it is a good goal to have. Some like to say “C’s get degrees”, however, with how competitive some nursing master’s programs are, it is a good idea to shoot for the stars in nursing school.

How you get straight A’s in nursing school only requires some simple tweaks to your daily routine. If you keep an organized study space, look at your due dates every day, don’t watch TV during the semester, and practice the active recall method, you will be on your way.

I was absolutely terrified to start my first semester of nursing school. I had joined some Facebook groups out of excitement, but it quickly felt as if I had joined some impossible career pursuit. Everyone was complaining about how they were failing out of their programs, how they were drowning in impossible workloads, and complaining about evil professors with no souls.

It seemed as though I would just be lucky to pass nursing school… Straight A’s weren’t even on my mind.

I am somewhat grateful though that I saw the nursing student struggle before school, because it pushed me to try extra hard. It also inspired me to learn how to be a good student before studying the program.

If you would like to read our article called What Should I Study Before Starting Nursing School and Do I Even Need To? You can read it right here. I think you will find it extremely valuable before starting school.

To get straight A’s in nursing school, I used NO nursing school bundles or any other tools from nursing entrepreneurs. While these can help some people, I just found them to be busy and overwhelming most of the time.

So, here are my tips on how to get straight A’s in nursing school.

1. Start the semester with feelings of gratitude.

Don’t sleep on this. I still vividly remember this moment one year later.

I was so nervous on my first day of school, especially with everything I had seen and heard online. However, I remember sitting in that classroom, surrounded by my new fellow peers who were also the lucky chosen ones, and it was just a special moment.

I had dreamed about sitting in this chair for so many years. It was here! So please take it all in when you start your program. So many wished they were sitting in that chair, but it’s YOU. YOU got into that chair. It is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. You should be so proud of yourself.

Starting off with gratitude is going to energize you to hit the ground running.

2. Set up your study space for the semester.

It doesn’t matter where, but you absolutely need to establish where you plan on studying for the semester.

Is it going to be the kitchen table? The living room? Your bedroom? The library? Your school? It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s somewhere you can concentrate in peace.

This will also help you establish a consistent study routine. If you don’t have a go-to study spot, you risk not studying at all.

Big Tip: If at all possible, tape your course due date schedules to where you will see them every single day.

I credit this to be a huge reason why I am getting straight A’s in nursing school. Being organized and flooding your mind with your upcoming due dates is huge. When I see I have an exam in two weeks I know I better start building my Quizlet’s on that content and watching some videos. If I wasn’t looking at my due dates every day, then it might sneak up on me when the teacher mentions “Oh, by the way, test next week.”

Many college students still depend on their professors to keep them organized, and that is a real recipe for failure, especially in nursing school, in my opinion. They only tell you if things change on the schedule.

3. Establish a study group as quickly as possible.

nursing school study group

Being in my thirties in nursing school, the first few weeks I had a really hard time connecting with most of the students in my class. Most of the students were in their early twenties, and many were not even twenty-one yet.

However, I did establish relationships with a few of my fellow older students rather quickly thankfully.

Why is this important?

By using a group chat, we used, and we were able to bring our important questions to the group from home.

We would share reminders with each other, clarify things with each other, and even just vent to each other.

I truly feel like this is not optional. From what I have personally experienced, those who try to do this by themself struggle the most in nursing school.

4. Change your mindset and take on a “role”.

If you are into self-help and self-development content this may sound so generic but seriously, I credit this to be 90% of my success! This should be good news IMO.

I don’t credit my success to being “smart” or having full mastery of the content. It is WAY too much information. I really don’t believe it is possible, you can’t and you never will know every little thing.

So, I went into each week with the mindset that I am a straight-A student.

But guess what, I wasn’t a straight-A student yet, but I pretended that I already was. So, therefore, I acted like I was. Like a literal actress.

So how does a straight-A student “act”?

Well, the character in my mind was someone who showed up to every single class, recorded her lectures, followed along on the PowerPoint, and highlighted the points the teacher was especially taking time to explain. This character also went home and worked on setting up her study materials right away, instead of waiting right before exams.

So write down all the things you believe a straight-A student does as a lifestyle. Add those qualities to the persona you are trying to embody, and just see just what happens. This is a fun exercise IMO, and it will shock you.

5. Stop watching Netflix…

This one was NOT easy.

I love my Netflix yall. I love my shows. When people are talking about the latest and newest binge-worthy shows, I’m the type to write them into a “watch list” in the notes on my phone.

I know myself. I have no self-discipline with these things. If I start a great show, I can’t stop.

Therefore, I knew that with the straight-A persona that I was taking on, I knew that character I was playing was not going to be able to watch hours of shows during the semester and get a 4.0…

Instead, I used Netflix as a carrot to dangle in front of me. I imagined myself when school was out for the semester, kicking my feet up, and watching my shows without compromising my success.

It was so worth it. It was the best feeling when school was done. I got a 4.0 GPA, and I was able to catch up on my favorite shows without any guilt. I highly recommend a television fast when you are in school. It will free up so much of your time.

6. Use the active recall method to study.

I credit this to be the most important study method to implement, especially if your goal is to get straight A’s in nursing school.

What is the active recall method? I am going to link this YouTube video here, because this is the most popular video on the topic, and he explains it beautifully.

Active recall is the method that many successful medical students use. Think about how much content and information medical students are given every single day, year after year? It is more than what is humanly possible in my opinion. But apparently not when they use this method.

The biggest mistake you can make is to use note-taking, and just reading over your notes, as your sole study method.

Reading over things is considered “passive” studying. When reading and writing, it is so easy for our brain to go into a trance state, and start wandering off. It requires little to no effort.

So, personally, I used quizlet and used repetition and quizzing myself as my study technique to implement the active recall method. And, you can set up your flashcards however you want. I personally copy and pasted sections from my professors’ power points, took keywords out of the sentences that I should probably know, and put them in a “(Blank)”.

I would read my flashcard, fill in the blank in my mind, and then go through them over and over again as many times as I could before exams.

By using this method, I achieved over 90% on every single one of my exams.

This works! Never have I had this kind of success in school until I started studying this way.

7. Utilize your weekdays efficiently to stop weekend exam cramming.

Do you tend to cram for exams?

If you are, that’s okay, in fact, nursing school goes so fast that you are pretty much forced to cram, even if it’s not your normal way of doing things.

About a quarter of the way through my semester I realized I needed to tweak one more thing. I needed to utilize my weekdays better.

I know after clinical, or a long day of class the last thing you want to do when you get home is more school, but if you use the active recall method, this will really help you out.

So, set up your quizlets, AFTER each lecture.

Quizlets are all I use to study now. But, putting them together takes a lot of time. It sounds so easy, “oh make a Quizlet”, but that can take me a good couple hours just to create a good and organized deck.

So, the LAST thing you want to do the weekend before an exam is to put together a bunch of quizlets on your chapters. They really should have been done already, that way you are spending your weekend going through them, mastering them, and being able to take some breaks in the day.

So, my advice is to make your quizlets after each lecture, every lecture day.

8. Record your teachers’ lectures.

Please make sure this is allowed first. For some programs, this is a big no-no, but I find most are fine with it.

After I mastered my Quizlet decks, I would listen to my teachers’ lectures again, especially the weekend before exams.

By having their PowerPoint engrained in my head, I was able to really understand everything they were saying after that. I was also able to pick out better what they were especially stressing to us so I could make sure to really understand those concepts.

By having a good grasp of the content, I was able to make better predictions about what would be on the exam.

I credit listening to the lectures again as a huge reason as to why I got straight A’s in nursing school.

9. Eat a specific breakfast on exam days.

breakfast for good grades

I was watching a Simple Nursing video one day and he was going over tips on exam day and this one stood out to me.

He said that there were studies showing that students who ate eggs and dark chocolate before exams did better on their exams than those who didn’t. The eggs are good for the neurons firing in the brain, and the chocolate acts as a gentle stimulant.

I decided to give it a try.

While I definitely don’t think this would help much if you were not prepared for your exams, (insert giggle), I do believe this helped me feel physically comfortable, not hungry, and focused while taking my tests.

10. Use YouTube for visual aids.

There are so many incredible people on YouTube creating great content for nurses. My personal favorites that I found were: Registered Nurse RN, and Nexus Nursing.

Registered Nurse RN just has a way of explaining things in such an easier way. If you think she talks too fast, I suggest just slowing down the video speed. I had to do that myself sometimes when it was something I was really having trouble understanding. Also, what I also love about her is that for many of her videos, she links you to a quiz you can take after.

Nexus Nursing is an awesome channel too for NCLEX-style questions. She also has a great personality and the way she explains the rationals will for SURE stick with you. Sometimes I would hear her voice in my head when I was taking exams. I would wonder, what answers would she yell at me for choosing?

11. Stay positive.

Nursing school breaks a lot of people. I’ve seen it myself. I saw people that I cared about ready to give up on themselves every day.

This is why I believe it is so important to achieve early success in your program. Once you have earned a high B or especially an A on an exam, you will have no excuses as to why you can’t do it again.

So when people in your class are being negative, talking badly about teachers, etc. You can remain positive, reminding yourself that your success is all on you, and it IS possible.

By shooting for straight A’s in nursing school, you can almost guarantee you will PASS nursing school.

Straight A’s in nursing school is a huge accomplishment, however, PASSING nursing school is the obvious true prize.

I shoot for straight A’s in nursing school because I know that if, and when, I fall short, I am still passing this program no problem.

The saying goes, shoot for the stars and you will land on the moon. Aim super high, and if you fall short, you are still going to go big places.

The biggest mistake I find is when people are just “trying to pass”. Some students will make it their goal to get the minimum 75% to pass (or insert what your program requires). Psychologically then, you are putting in a C amount of effort. That can be very risky if you fall short.

So, aim for 100% on your exams, and you are very likely going to land comfortably in the A or B range.

I truly believe these tips that I have shared with you will help you succeed. Please comment below and share your thoughts, opinions, and successes. What has worked for you? Do you have anything to add? Can’t wait to hear and stay tuned for more. Thanks!

Jackie Jimenez BSN, RN
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