While normal college exams have just one answer that is completely correct, nursing school exams have multiple. 

On nursing exams, it isn’t “which is the correct answer?”, it’s “which is the most correct answer”. 

With a few simple tips and tricks, you can greatly improve your odds of success on your nursing exams. 

*Disclosure: This article on how to pass nursing school exams may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

How Hard is Nursing School Exams?

They may be notoriously difficult, but they’re far from impossible! 

Nursing schools want to make sure your critical thinking skills are being tested and improved upon. 

If you’re having a rough time, or need some tips, don’t fret! Just follow these simple steps. 

Tips for Passing Nursing School Exams 

Here are tips for helping you pass nursing school exams. 

1. Come Prepared to the Exams

Few things are worse than getting into your exam and realizing that you’re dehydrated, stressed, and starving. 

Eat before you go, get a good night’s rest, do some deep breathing exercises, and bring snacks if you’re allowed to. 

Creating a calm, holistic internal environment is one of the most important things you can do to set yourself up for success. 

2. Study Properly Beforehand

There is little to no chance for success in nursing school without studying, and it’s important to study in a way that works for you

On average, nursing students study approximately 18 hours per week. 

Setting a study schedule is critical to ensure you can fit study sessions into your schedule without having to cram it all in at the end. ➜Related Article: 5 Tips on Taking Notes in Nursing School

3. Conceptualize Don’t Memorize 

In both the nursing profession and in nursing school, memorization will only get you so far, which is why having a firm grasp of the concepts at hand is important. 

When you’re studying, try discussing the reasons behind various theories or concepts, don’t just memorize what you think might be the correct answer. 

Nursing school requires you to be able to understand the entire process of events regarding the questions at hand, so make sure you know the theory behind your question and answer. 

Hire a Tutor for Nursing School

If you’re in need of a tutor for a nursing school class, you can find one by using the online tutoring platform Wyzant.

4. Make Your First Pass 

Answer the questions you know are correct first, and then start your second pass through the exam. 

During the second pass, spend a little longer on the ones you aren’t completely sure are correct, this will help you manage your time effectively. 

If you’ve made it to a third pass, and you still aren’t sure which is correct, remember your ABCs! 

Something else I want to add is if you’re using a scantron, make sure to bubble in your answers as you go along.

Me and countless other nursing students have made the mistake of just filling out the answers in the book only to run out of town and not finish filling out the scantron.

This is BAD!

Your program will probably not let you finish bubbling in the answers when time is up.

5. Know the ABCs of Nursing 

To help you find the correct answer and prioritize patient care, follow the ABCs. 

  • Airway: Is the patient’s airway patent and unobstructed?
  • Breathing: Is the patient breathing properly (unlabored, 12-20 breaths per minute)?
  • Circulation: Is the patient’s circulation system functioning properly?

Go through each answer and find any answers that promote a patent airway, proper breathing, and adequate circulation. 

This is a good strategy for both patient care and exams. 

6. Figure Out a Strategy 

Just as everyone learns differently, everyone also takes tests differently. 

It can be beneficial to talk to other students who are doing well in their courses and get ideas on what strategies they use. 

If you’re having a hard time coming up with one, talking with your nursing advisors is a great next step, as they are there to help and they want to see you succeed. 

7. Know Your (Imaginary) Patient

Certain treatments and symptoms may be different depending on the person’s age, sex, ethnicity, and body mass. 

You’ll also need to focus on any comorbidities that may be occurring along with the patient’s current issue at hand. 

Before you go into your exam, make sure you know how medications and treatments will differ depending on each patient, and then answer the questions accordingly. 

8. Use the Process of Elimination 

The process of elimination requires getting rid of the answers that are absolutely wrong, and leaving the ones that may be correct. 

As you go through each question, see if you can find any that do not support the nursing ABCs listed above.  

This will help you narrow down your answers and focus in on the correct one. 

9. Watch Nursing School Videos

There are tons of great videos out there created by nursing students, for nursing students (as well as professors and nursing graduates).

Some videos can help you with various study tips, while others can give you a more in-depth focus on specific topics related to your exams. 

While videos are a great resource, they should be used to compliment your current study method and not as a sole study tool itself. 

10. Utilize Instructor Office Hours 

If you’re still having a hard time, it may be necessary to utilize your professor’s office hours. 

Before meeting with the professor, make sure you come prepared with questions, as well as the study strategy you have been using. 

While this may be a hard step to take, your professors want to see you succeed and it’s important to remember that they have all been students before as well! 

11. Find a Nursing School Tutor

Lastly, if you’re still struggling on exams you should consider hiring a tutor for nursing school.

Hiring a tutor will allow you to get more 1-on-1 time with some who can walk you through the materials you’re struggling with.

You can ask your nursing instructors for leads on a good tutor.

Or you can use an online platform like Wyzant to find and read reviews of nursing tutors that other nursing students have used.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you found these tips on passing nursing school exams helpful. Hang in there. Nursing school exams are hard, but they’re doable.

Have you made it through nursing school (mostly) unscathed? How did you handle nursing exams? Let us know in the comments below! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions related to nursing students passing exams in nursing school.

  1. Is it hard to pass nursing school exams?

    Nursing school exams are hard but they are doable. You just need to have a plan for how you are going to study the material and prepare for the exam.

  2. How can I improve my nursing test taking skills?

    It starts by preparing ahead of time. Than once you get into the exam taking it one question at a time. Make sure you read each question carefully and that you understand what each question is actually asking.

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