Ep37: How to Prepare for Nursing School: 4 Quick Tips

how to get ready for nursing school

Resources discussed in this episode:

Critical Thinking for Dummies

VARK Questionnaire


I have been accepted into the BSN program and begin nursing school April 27. I am struggling with how to prepare for school. I don’t know what to study in advance, where to even begin. I’m currently working on medical Math calculations. Do you have recommendations? I’m also struggling with the millions of additional resources available to me and how to know which will actually be helpful and which are a waste of both time and money. Everything is already expensive, so I’m trying to weed through the information. Any suggestions? I have no medical background and apart from my prerequisites I’m starting from ground zero. Thank you for your interest in the success of students. It is empowering.

Okay so thank you for your question first of all and second of all I just want to tell you that a lot of people going into nursing school don’t have a medical background. There are a lot of people that do have some type of nurse aide experience or something like but nurse aide versus nursing, it’s a very different career and so there’s a lot of people going in there that don’t have the base knowledge that you probably think they have.

I think a lot of people going into nursing school have that fear that everyone’s going to be smarter than them and that they’re going to fall behind the pack. Let me just let you know that that’s not necessarily true. Even if you do have that medical background it’s not going to be the difference in you being a good nurse or not. Let’s just get that out of the way first.

Next, I have 4 different suggestions for you to help you prepare for nursing school. Before we do that, let me say there are a lot of things out there that attempt to prepare people for nursing school and there are a lot of things that do cost a lot of money. Let me tell you that you can prepare for nursing school and you can do well in nursing school without spending a ton of money.

The first book I’m going to tell you about, aside from our books at nursingstudentbooks.com and I’m going to suggest these other books but definitely check out all of our books. They’re $2.99 at the most expensive and we often run them for discounted or for free because there’s a lot of different things you need to know. As far as preparing for nursing school, here’s what I’m going to tell you to do.

Review Anatomy and Physiology

I want you to look over your anatomy and physiology grades. Surely you probably took those preparing for nursing school so I want you to look over your anatomy and physiology grades. I don’t care about the other courses for getting into nursing school but look over anatomy and physiology specifically and how you did on the different chapters. Then I want you to look specifically at cardiac, neuro and respiratory. Those are the 3 main areas that you need to know well. I want you to look at the chapter you did the worst on and just kind of glance over it and read over it and remind yourself of the anatomy.

This is one thing I wish I had more time to do before nursing school was to be able to look at the anatomy and kind of remind myself of the different internal structures of the body and the physiology and the way things work within the body. If you have time to look over anatomy, this will be a great help because it comes into play with med-surg. It comes into play with pharmacology and it comes into play with just basic nursing care.

Definitely look over cardiac, neuro and respiratory. If you have time, just kind of glance over all the chapters but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to relearn everything. I would just make myself aware of the physiology of the body, how things work, how the pancreas works, how the kidneys work and just how everything works together.

Reviewing these things is going to help. If you have the time to do it it will help you. If you don’t have the time, I wouldn’t stress about it a ton but if you do have the time this would be a tremendous help because it would make all those other courses kind of flow much easier.

Learn About Critical Thinking

Number 2, the second thing I’m going to recommend is to take a basic course or read a basic book about critical thinking. Critical thinking is something that nursing schools are going to just pound into you and pound and pound and pound. What I would suggest prior to starting nursing school would be to, if you have time, just for some leisure reading or something like that find a critical thinking book. If you go to Amazon, there’s Critical Thinking for Dummies. I haven’t personally read it but I looked at the book and it looks like it would be actually pretty helpful. It’s one of those for dummies book but if you go to NRSNG.com/52 I’ll have the link to that in there. It’s Critical Thinking for Dummies and it will just help you kind of change the way you think or it will help you see that you’re actually already thinking critically.

Critical thinking versus just regular thinking is a little bit different. It helps you dive past assumptions and dig into the deeper actual issues. This is very important to nursing school. It helps with caring for patients. It also helps with nursing school exams because with nursing school exams it’s very different than previous exams. Previous exams are much more based on just fact. There’s a right answer or not. With nursing school exams, there’s usually a couple answers that could be right and what you have to do is analyze what the best answer is. Learning how to critically think and look past just the basics of a question will be very helpful. Critical Thinking for Dummies or any other critical thinking course or whatever you can find. I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on this. This would just be something you could kind of read in your spare time.

What the H is VARK?

The next thing I’m going to suggest to you is that you take a learning method quiz. This is a free quiz. It’s from VARK, -V-A-R-K, and if you go to VARK-learn.com/the-VARK-questionnaire . It’s just a couple question quiz and what it does is it helps you understand what you’re learning method is. VARK is actually an acronym for Visual, Aural, Read and Kinesthetic. What it’s basically doing is trying to figure out how you best learn. If you go to that link there that I have, it’s maybe 10 or 20 questions or so, and then it kind of helps you figure out how you best learn and understanding how you best learn will help you determine how to best study.

If you’re a visual learner, you need to be doing diagrams and things like that. If you’re an auditory learner, you need to be listening to podcasts or listening to lectures, things like that. If you’re a reading learner, you need to be reading your chapters and making notes and stuff like that. Kinesthetic, you need to be actually finding ways to practice the things that you’re learning. Understanding before starting nursing school how you best learn is going to save you a tremendous amount of time with knowing how and what to study once nursing school starts because you’re going to have so much information thrown at you and if you know how to best sift through that and study quickly through a method that work for you, you’re going to save a ton of time.

Learn How to Schedule

The last thing I’m going to recommend to you is to find a good scheduling tool. Find a scheduling tool that works for you. What happens to some students is they get into nursing school and there’s just so much information beyond anything they’ve ever had thrown at them before, thrown at them all at the same time, and they attempt multiple different scheduling tools. By the time they find something that works, they’ve already wasted all this valuable time that they could’ve been using to read and to study.

A couple of scheduling tools I’m going to recommend to you are going to be Google calendar. Google calendar worked okay for me but personally it’s not what I use. There’s also Trello. I recommended Trello in the last episode. Trello is free to us and it’s on an app and it’s on the computer and it’s kind of like a white board so you can have notes, you can drag and drop and I love the tool so I’d recommend Trello for sure.

Another one is just simple pen and paper. Just having a little calendar that you keep all your notes on and everything that’s due. Another thing that I recommended the last episode was to have an Excel spreadsheet for every week. At the beginning of the week go in and make an Excel sheet of every class that you have and what’s due for each class. That worked really well for me for about half of nursing school and then I had to switch over to a pen and paper method.

Find something that works for you prior to starting, it can save you a ton of time.


These are things that I think will help you. I wouldn’t spend a tremendous amount of time going over Math for Meds like you’re doing right now and I wouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to learn nursing skills or anything like that. You’re going to learn that in nursing school. That’s the purpose of nursing school. These different skills that I’ve suggested will help to make nursing school easier and it will help to make your journey much faster and easier once you’re in nursing school.

Really quickly, I would recommend:

#1. Just review anatomy. Review anatomy and physiology. How the body works. How everything works as interplay together. This will save you a tremendous amount of time and understanding concepts once they’re thrown at you in nursing school. I’d recommend critical thinking, reading a critical thinking book, possibly Critical Thinking for Dummies or something like that. I’d recommend taking this VARK questionnaire to understand what you’re learning method is. Lastly, I would recommend a good scheduling tool and something that you can become comfortable with. Implement it now and see if it works for you so that once nursing school comes you are good with it, you know how to use it, and you know what’s going to work for you.

Those are my suggestions for you for how to prepare for nursing school and how to be ready for nursing school. Seriously, don’t spend a tremendous amount of time trying to learn how to be a nurse right now. That’s exactly what nursing school is for. Learn these skills that are going to accelerate how quickly you’re about to learn in nursing school.

These things are all skills that you’re going to need in nursing school so developing these schools prior to school is going to save you a lot of time trying to learn them in school.

All right guys. Thank you so much. Would love to hear from you if you have any questions or you can reach out to me as well. Contact at NRSNG.com. I’d love to hear from you and have a great day. Happy nursing.

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