With so many courses you’re required to take in order to graduate, it can be hard to keep up with everything.

Pathophysiology may be a difficult course, but it’s entirely doable as long as you have a firm understanding of physiology and good study habits.

If you’re in the middle of the semester or about to head into one, don’t let this class scare you off. We’ve compiled the best tips for passing your pathophysiology course with confidence.

What is Pathophysiology?

Pathophysiology is the study of abnormal processes in the body that can be linked to disease or other system malfunctions.

For nursing students, essentially, it’s the study of all the ways things can go wrong in the body.

It’s critical to learn pathophysiology so you can understand why your patient is exhibiting the symptoms they are in order to help you better treat them.

Tips for Passing Pathophysiology

Don’t let this class scare you off from becoming a nurse. Here are 9 tips for passing pathophysiology (the tear-free way).

1. Buy or Make Study Guides

Having a study guide is critical to your success in pathophysiology.

Whether you make one or buy one (or both), they can help you improve your understanding and guide your reading and focus.

Check out some great study guides for sale on Amazon, or create one yourself with the help of a professor or other student if necessary.

2. Form Study Groups

Don’t try to go it alone in nursing school. Study groups are an important tool to help you understand the information as well as answer any questions you may have.

A good study group should have no more than 3-5 students, and everyone in the group needs to be motivated to study and succeed.

Create a comfortable atmosphere with soft music, snacks, and drinks. Don’t forget to take breaks!

3. Use Mnemonics and Flash Cards

Mnemonics and flashcards are a great way to remember pathophysiology concepts.

These work by encouraging your brain to encode new information via rhymes, acronyms, and images.

You can use flashcards to support these mnemonics or purchase standard pathophysiology flashcards (Amazon) online.

However, it’s encouraged to make your own if this helps you retain information better.

Patho Phlash!: Pathophysiology Flash Cards
  • Understanding diseases and disorders
  • Increasing test scores in class
  • Improving scores on the NCLEX examination

4. Find Tutors

Hiring a paid tutor, or utilizing a free tutor from your school, can significantly impact the outcome of your class.

Not only is this a good way to keep a routine study schedule by meeting at regular times, but you’re also getting one-on-one help from someone with a lot of knowledge in the subject.

Talk with your professors about senior students they recommend to help you or ask other classmates who they use or recommend.

Hire a Tutor For Nursing School
If you need a tutor for nursing school, you can find one using this online platform. The tutors are vetted, and you pick the time that works for your schedule.

5. Go to your Professor’s Office Hours

Your professors will generally have designated office hours for each class they teach.

These hours can often be found in your syllabus, but you can also ask your professor about their availability.

Before you head into your meeting, make sure you have all of the questions you need to ask and see if you can record the session to review later on.


Keep in mind that if you’re going to need a letter of recommendation for nursing school later, you need to go to your professor’s office hours.

For them to write you a good letter of recommendation, they need to know who you are and see the level of effort you’re putting into the class.

6. Create a Good Study Space

Having a calm, peaceful environment is the first step in creating a good study area.

Make sure your desk is organized, clean, well-lit, and has everything you need readily available.

Creating an ambiance that works for your personality type is also critical.

If you need additional resources, there are great tips online to help you set up the perfect study space.

7. Find Video Resources

Videos are a great resource to add to your study methods, as they bring in different viewpoints and memorization techniques.

Your professor may have different videos he or she recommends, and you should review PowerPoint presentations online to see if they have included any links to videos they feel are helpful.

If they haven’t, there are plenty of resources online that can help aid you in your study sessions.


YouTube can be a great resource for finding helpful videos for pathophysiology.

Below, I included an example video I found with just seconds of searching on YouTube.

8. Create Study Schedules

Creating a study schedule is a good way to keep you in the habit of reviewing information.

Try to block off at least one hour each day to study the information you learned previously and to review other notes you may have added to PowerPoint and textbooks.

In doing this, you also create good habits that will help drive you forward on your path to graduating from nursing school.

Related: How to Pass Mental Health Nursing Class

9. Skim and Focus In

Trying to read an entire pathophysiology book is like trying to run a marathon with no shoes on. It’s just not a good idea.

Skimming information is a great way to get important concepts highlighted for later review.

Many seasoned nursing students also choose which parts of the text to focus their attention on, which is usually the first and last sentence of each paragraph.

These usually contain the bulk of the information, with minor details sandwiched in between.

10. Take Good Notes

Honestly, it’s an art to take good notes.

While there are some general principles of good note-taking, some of it will vary based on the student and your particular learning style.

We’ve already written an article on taking good notes in nursing school.

While it’s geared towards nursing students who are in their main nursing school coursework, there’s still some solid information you can use there.

11. Record the Lectures

This was mentioned briefly earlier. I think it’s worth emphasizing how helpful recording lectures can be to students, especially students who are auditory learners.

My recommendation is to get a dedicated recorder like the EVISTR Digital Voice Recorder (on Amazon).

If you’re strapped for cash, most high-end smartphones will also work.

Final Thoughts

I hope you find these tips helpful.

To be honest with you, there’s really no surefire, 100% guaranteed way to find success in pathophysiology. Or any classes in nursing school for that matter.

It’s about showing up to class, doing what you can to stay motivated, and changing up what you do until you find something that works.

I wish you the very best of luck in pathophysiology and your journey through nursing school.

Have you finished pathophysiology successfully? What worked for you, or what didn’t work for you? Let us know in the comments!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Pathophysiology is the study of the biological changes that occurs as a result of a disease or disorder. Nurses study pathophysiology to better understand how to treat and take care of their patients.

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