How to Stay Sane During Nursing School Finals

By Nursing Student and ThriveAP Team Member Taylor Haniford

I’m sure you’ve heard before how hard nursing school can be. I was told by countless people to really reconsider this major because most don’t make it out alive. Well, just kidding about the alive part, but you may come out with some serious bags under your eyes while wearing last week’s clothes.

While having little time for activities outside of school is the reality of nursing school, finding a balance between studying, friends, and a shower for yourself is what will keep you sane. Especially during those heart wrenching finals. Just like any other nursing test you will study a lot during finals week. A lot a lot. Countless hours of studying and cups of coffee later, you will find yourself sitting in front of the test, reading a questions where every single answer could possibly be the one. You go into panic mode and start to think, maybe if I had studied this material a little harder or locked myself in the library study room a little longer, I’d know the answer. These will likely be the thoughts running through your mind during a nursing test. It’s time to get these thoughts OUT of your head. Negative thoughts like this aren’t worth increasing your heart rate over. Here are a few tips for approaching nursing school finals week with sanity.

You got this. What I’ve learned from nursing school tests and finals is to not doubt myself. When comparing my testing anxiety to my clinical anxiety I found there to be a big difference. Do I doubt myself when I am providing my patient with the best care and advice I can possibly give? No! Nursing school confidence is the most important thing. Believe in yourself.

Stop. The number one piece of advice my professors have drilled into my head is to not change my answers. There is likely a reason you initially selected a certain response, so don’t go back and question yourself.

Relax. A tip that has helped me during finals is to find time to enjoy what I love. Whether it be exercising or spending time with friends, finding time to decompress and laugh between study sessions is crucial.

Breathe. Something we can all forget to do when taking a test is to breathe. Before every test I take, a few pursed lip breaths really do clear my mind. We recommend this tactic to our COPD patients, so why not do it for ourselves? As nurses we tend to forget to take our own advice, and breathing is very important advice.

Your peers. Finding a group of students to study with will keep your information fresh. Creating silly rhymes or sayings to remember material is something fun that only your nursing friends will get and not laugh at you for. Lifting each other up and keeping each other motivated will mean more than you think. You’ve shared tears and laughs with your nursing school friends, and will likely share stories with each other for the rest of your life. Enjoy.

Finally! Last but definitely not least, keep a positive mindset. As hard as this is to do when sitting in front of a 100 question final exam that is about to determine your grade, believing in yourself and keeping your eye on the prize will take you far. Before you know it you will be passing the state boards with confidence and only a slight increase in blood pressure.

Having now completed my third year of college, I’ve come to the realization that finals don’t get easier, or any better for that matter. While other students are getting more excited about senior year and graduation, I start to become diaphoretic. Am I ready to graduate and have the lives of others in my hands? If I question myself during a final exam, am I going to question myself when I have a dying patient rushed into the ER?

Whether it is your first day on the job, or your end of the semester final, you never know what to expect. Welcome to life. Time to make an educated decision and go for it. Don’t let the anxiety of school get in the way of your learning. Don’t forget to smile and enjoy the ride! I’ve learned so much already as a nursing student, and I look forward to my future experiences. Don’t let tests determine who you are. You are a soon to be AMAZING nurse that will touch the lives of others forever. 


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