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Are you studying scientifically? Best tips to study for NCLEX

You are not the top student in your class! You are smart, understand the material, and can explain it to anyone. But still, you find it very difficult to get a high exam score. This doesn't mean there is an issue with your abilities. Instead, it could mean that your study methods are not suitable to compete for the top, and you just need to reevaluate them.

Ironically, the most commonly used for studying are the least effective. Since you are reading this article, it is evident that you are not one of them! The only reason for their popularity is their ease, as most people like to do things the easy way.

The study methods that are actually effective are challenging and hence less popular. But if you want to score high and get to the top of your class, you will have to work hard for it.

So now, let's discuss various study techniques and their effectiveness in getting you a high score.

Different Studying Techniques:

1. Summarization:

You have to learn a lot of material in med school. To condense the information, many students create summaries of the data by identifying essential points and connecting them. Using this technique correctly, you can identify the text's main points while skipping over the unimportant or repetitive parts. Though summaries can help you revise the material faster, does it help you score better in your exams?

The answer is, No! Research has shown that summarization is a low utility study technique that won't help you score higher. Although it may be effective for learners who are already skilled in summarizing, many learners need extensive training. This makes the technique less applicable.

2. Highlighting/ Underlining:

Highlighting and underlining the text while studying is the most common behavior among students. In general, students like this method because it is easy to use, does not require any training, and does not require them to spend more time reading than they already do.

The research has shown little to no benefit of highlighting the text while reading compared to simply reading the material. Hence highlighting and underlining is considered a low utility technique. It might help if you know how to highlight correctly or are going through a complex text. But it might hurt your performance on higher-level tasks requiring inference making.

3. Rereading:

This is again one of the most widely used studying techniques. Over 65% of students say that they use rereading as a technique when preparing for course exams. Most students heavily rely on rereading when it comes to self-studying, but is it effective?

The answer again is no! The effectiveness of rereading depends on the student's other characteristics, such as knowledge or ability. Rereading shows a little more effective when it is spaced. However, the benefits are related to recalling the information and not understanding the material. Though rereading requires less time and effort than other study techniques, it is typically much less effective.

4. Practice Testing:

Testing is one of the least favorite activities for any student. Most students would rather they have to give as few tests as possible. But most students don't understand that testing helps in learning. It is backed by over 100 years of research that practice testing improves your knowledge and retention of any given material.

Practice testing can be defined as low-stakes or no-stakes tests completed outside of the classroom administered by an instructor or that the students can complete independently. Practice testing may involve recalling target information through flashcards, practice problems or questions at the end of textbook chapters, or answering online question banks.

Hence, practice testing is a high utility technique with broad applicability. It is not as time-intensive as other studying techniques and requires minimal training. Finally, several studies have provided evidence for the efficacy of practice testing in representative educational contexts.

5. Distributed practice:

Distributed practice means distributing the learning over time. It has proven benefits for long-term retention more than back-to-back mass learning or relatively close sessions of studying.

An experiment testing the effectiveness of distributed practice involved 3 groups that learned the translations of Spanish words. All the students in the groups participated in six additional sessions in which they had the chance to retrieve or relearn the translations. The conditions for spaced practice for the three groups were different. For the first group, the sessions were back-to-back; for the second group, they were separated by a day, and for the third group, they were separated by 30 days.

The first groups performed well in the first test but did not do well with long-term retention. The second group did slightly worse in the first testing session but improved with each subsequent session and showed better long-term retention than the first group. The third group did the poorest in the first session and showed the most loss of information. But the consolidation of information was most noticeable for this group in the following sessions. The third group showed the best long-term retention.

Hence, Distributed practice is a high utility studying technique that uses many learning areas.

6. Microlearning:

Microlearning is a studying technique that divides information into small and understandable fractions. Microlearning helps you focus on the most critical elements of any subject in a short amount of time. Microlearning sessions of 3-7 minutes correspond to a human's working memory capacity and attention span.

Research has shown that microlearning can improve your learning ability by up to 18% compared to traditional studying techniques. Also, students who use microlearning for studying their material are more excited and motivated to gain more knowledge. Hence, microlearning is a high utility study technique. It helps you retent information effectively and aids in long-term retention.


Now that you know the high utility studying techniques, it is time to make some changes. Using these techniques will be more challenging than the techniques you currently use, but it will be worth it! You will see an improvement in your retention, understanding, and test scores.

And suppose you want a tool to help you practice these study techniques effectively. You can check out our question banks from here- https://archerreview.com/ or you can check out your fantastic Ed-tech social media platform for nurses, Pulsedin- https://pulsedin.com/.

References Links:

  1. Dunlosky J, Rawson KA, Marsh EJ, Nathan MJ, Willingham DT. Improving Students' Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Psychol Sci Public Interest. 2013 Jan;14(1):4-58. DOI: 10.1177/1529100612453266. PMID: 26173288.
  2. https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/download/article-file/458672