How To Get Through Nursing School: 7 Valuable Tips

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If you typed into the search bar “how to get through nursing school” you probably feel pretty frustrated right now. Maybe even defeated.

Perhaps you are wondering, is this even possible? Is this even worth it? Can I really do this? Especially if it is a particularly challenging week, or month, let’s face it…

When it comes to the question of how to get through nursing school, there is a formula.

While this formula won’t look exactly the same for every single unique person, when put into action, there are general things that everyone should do to increase their chances of getting through nursing school without losing their mind.

From personal experience, here at Midlife Nursing, we believe that if you implement these productivity-producing actions, you will not only get through nursing school, you may actually start to enjoy the experience a little bit more.

*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. Read more on our privacy policy page.

1. Make Nursing School Your Number One Priority

how to get through nursing school

I know, this is easier said than done. On the surface level, this may even conflict with some of your values. Put nursing school over my family, friends, and job? No way!

But let’s delve below the surface for a second here. What is your “why”? Why are you in nursing school in the first place?

You are likely in nursing school FOR:

  • Your family
  • Your future family
  • To spend more time, and have more fun with your friends after graduation
  • Job security in the future

Go ahead and insert your own unique desires into the list above.

Without a “why” it is super hard to remain motivated when things get tough. And things get very tough in nursing school sometimes. Your “why” needs to make you “cry” and move you emotionally more than nursing school tests and assignments do.

So, make nursing school your number one priority. It must come before everything else so that you can truly enjoy the people and the things in your life that mean the most to you when it is done and over with.

2. You Have 168 Hours In a Week, So Don’t Skip On Your Self-Care Activities

I have seen it time and time again. Nursing students pulling all-nighters, drinking more caffeine than night shifters, eating fast foods for every meal, and neglecting their gym memberships.

I know you mean well. You truly believe you don’t have time to sleep, cook, or hit the gym, and you need the caffeine to keep the train rolling. Again, let’s delve below the surface level here.

You do have time. There are 168 hours in a week.

Here is an example of a what could be a typical nursing students week:

Sleep (8 hrs a night)56 hours a week
Class and Clinicals 40 hours a week
Work20 hours a week
Study Time (2 hrs a day)14 hours a week
Total = 130 hours

This leaves you a potential 38 hours in a week to apply to exercise and other self-care activities. You may even be able to insert a few hours of catching up on some of your favorite shows.

So when it comes to the question of how to get through nursing school, you must strictly plan your days out to get through this as smoothly as possible.

3. Get A Good Planner and Stick To It Religiously

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin.

Having been on both sides, not being a planner, and being a planner, I have to agree with Benjamin Franklin on this one.

Waking up each day where your day runs you, is risky business. To achieve maximum success, you must have a clear understanding of what your day is going to entail. YOU need to be in control of it, and this requires planning the night or week before.

Amazon link to this item

This is an excellent planner because you can schedule your day hour by hour. It also gives you three boxes to organize your three most important tasks for the day. Additionally, you can also plan your meals for the day and keep track of your water intake.

This can help you execute our tip number two by scheduling self-care and exercise into your days.

4. Find Your Nursing School Tribe

how to get through nursing school

“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”  C.S. Lewis

Nobody understands what you are going through more than your fellow nursing school classmates.

The handful of students that I have seen drop out of nursing school were those who kept to themselves. They didn’t interact with any of the other classmates, and you would just see them sitting alone 99% of the time.

Now I know that not everyone is an extrovert, I consider myself an introvert myself. However, I am a firm believer that there is someone out there for everyone. This includes both friendships and intimate relationships.

So as the quote by C.S Lewis says, we build friendships most easily based on our commonalities with one another. If you are shy and in nursing school, trust me, you are not alone. Just put yourself a little bit more out there, and you will find your tribe quicker than you expect.

5. Use Clinicals To Your Advantage

I get it. Clinicals are definitely not a lot of nursing students’ favorite. Many feel like they are working for free.

Think about it though. What if there was no clinical time required in nursing school, and all you did was study out of the textbooks, and take tests based on hypothetical scenarios you have never actually seen.

Really? Your first day ever stepping foot on the hospital floor is going to be when you are already a licensed RN? Not only would that be irresponsible for the state to allow, but nursing school tests and the NCLEX would also have an even higher failure rate.

Clinical is there to help you, not to take advantage of you. Administration and staff can’t force you to do anything. Your experience you have on the floor is really up to you.

So use clinical to try and see and do everything you possibly can. The more clinical rotations you do, the less foreign a lot of nursing school questions sound. You will have a visual for many of the scenarios which are extremely helpful.

6. Focus On Labs and Medications

If you make it your focus to really know your labs, and the most common Med-Surg medications, you will see great improvement on most of your nursing school exams.

There is nothing worst than coming across a question where a lab is the main focus and you aren’t sure if it is in a normal range. In nursing school, this is A LOT of questions. If you are super strong with labs, then you can breeze through so many more questions like these.

When it comes to medications, they also help you understand the heavily tested on diseases. So know the drug classes, the most basic uses for them, and important safety considerations.

When it comes to how to get through nursing school, committing yourself to knowing the material is a slightly obvious addition to our list, but important to emphasize.

7. Make Quiz Taking Your Study Method

Reading notes to study in nursing school is just not going to cut it for 99% of people. There is too much to know. It is also not uncommon for there to be a handful of questions that were not thoroughly covered in class.

This is why you have to become a master of quiz taking. You have to learn to cancel out answer choices like it’s your new job. It really is an art.

Nursing school is graded by how well you do on your exams. Nursing school doesn’t care about how good a writer you are, a speaker, or how good you are at art, etc.

All nursing schools care about is, can you pass tests? That is ALL they care about. Why? Because the NCLEX is why we are in nursing school in the first place. To learn the material to pass the licensing exam.

So bomb the quizzes at home, not in the main arena. Trust me, it works.

Two of my favorite practice tests to use at home to study for nursing school exams are the following:

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*Note: Make sure to purchase the Saunders book NEW so you can get the access code and get the quiz bank with thousands of questions on everything you could possibly need to know for nursing school and NCLEX.

Your Best Grade Link to quiz bank

Your Best Grade is what I used to study for my HESI exams to score over 1,000. Read how I scored a 1217 on the Med-Surg HESI here. The quiz banks are amazing to use for studying for specialty nursing exams and NCLEX as well.

Quizlet is also an incredible resource to which I owe a lot of my success as well. You can make your own flashcards using your professor’s PowerPoint, or you can search for other decks that others have made for the same classes.

When it comes to how to get through nursing school, practice tests are the golden rule.


So, when it comes to the question of how to get through nursing school, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Hopefully, some of these tips can help make the journey a little less rocky, but as long as you don’t give up, you will get through this.

If you made it into nursing school, you are worthy. Remind yourself of this every day until you really believe it. You were chosen to have that seat. So stop doubting, start planning, and you will be so happy with the changes.

Jackie Jimenez BSN, RN
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