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How to Study for Your NP Exams During the Holidays

Holiday music is playing. You’re making lists on what gifts to buy. You have travel plans to visit friends and family. You’re sipping on some peppermint hot cocoa, enjoying a moment of holiday cheer—and then, out of nowhere, you realize you need to fit some study time in during your holiday break.

You finally had a little time to enjoy life outside of school, but now guilt is creeping in and you feel like you have to stay on top of your studies. So, what should you do? Should you study during the holidays? Or say forget it, put another log on the fire, and make another cup of hot cocoa?

You’ve definitely earned a little bit of a break, that’s for sure. Maybe you’re going to be moving onto the next semester in school, or you’re gearing up to take your certification exam after the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over. Either way, it’s important to keep your NP knowledge and information fresh.

The good news is that you can study AND still enjoy your holidays! In this post, we’ll go through helpful tips on how you can make the most of your holiday time. From creating a plan, to tips on how to study when you’re traveling, and how to prepare for next semester (or maybe even your board exam), we’ll help you find a good balance between studying and fun.

So get a cup of that peppermint hot cocoa and settle in. We’re going to show you how to enjoy the holidays while staying on top of your NP studies.

How to Stay on Top of Your NP Studies During the Holidays 

1. Create a study plan.

First and foremost, you need a plan. How much time do you have off? Are you also going to be working? Do you have any travel plans you need to account for? Once you know what your general schedule is, you can start to carve out time for studying. 

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s important to find the right time to study. Don’t book yourself some study time during a layover at the airport just so you can tell yourself that you “studied.” You want to study when you’re relaxed and able to focus. 

Another issue is creating a study space. Are you going to be in a home full of busy, loud family and friends? Then maybe plan out some time at a quiet coffee shop or local library. 

Remember, in order to maximize your study time during the holidays, focus on quality over quantity!

2. Study while traveling.

Does your holiday break include planes, trains, and automobiles? If so, you can still get some quality study time in!

One way to do this is with the SMNP Reviews Primary Care Question Bank on your smartphone or laptop. You’ll have access to 1,500 board-style questions including three practice exams, and you can keep track of your progress and switch between a phone, tablet, or laptop with ease. 

Maybe you only want to focus on cardiac questions? Or only want to work through 75 questions on a particular day? We’ve got you covered! You can customize your practice sets to meet your needs with options to change their size, time to complete, subjects covered, and question type.

3. Create boundaries and make time for fun.

So, now that you’ve got a solid study plan, the next step is to create boundaries. This means sharing your study plan with others so they know when to give you the needed space. Creating boundaries will allow you to focus on what you need to get done. 

But don’t forget that your holiday schedule should include fun things! You may not be able to go out for lunch one day with friends, but set aside time for a fun holiday party with them another day. You’ve worked really hard during school, and you deserve a break! Having something fun to look forward to will give you motivation during your study sessions. 

4. Take breaks.

And speaking of breaks, make sure you take lots of them. Seriously! Taking frequent, small breaks (10-30 minutes in length) reduces brain strain, increases retention of the material, and actually helps to keep you focused! 

For example, maybe you’ve set aside a three-hour block of time to study. Sounds great! About once every hour, take a little break. Grab a snack, go for a little walk, or do some reading unrelated to your studies. Our minds tend to remember the first and last things we study the best. So, those “brain breaks” are not only going to reduce your stress, they also allow you to recall the material better. It’s a win-win! 

5. Find a study buddy.

Our next recommendation for holiday studying is to find a buddy to do it with. Your study buddy could be a peer in your class, friend who is an NP student, or someone who is already a nurse practitioner. A study buddy is helpful because they will likely have different strengths than you, and vice versa. You both can have the opportunity to learn from each other, as well as gain a sense of camaraderie. 

You can study together in person, in a virtual meeting room, or over the phone. It really can be versatile and beneficial! Having a partner to study with makes the session more enjoyable, keeps you accountable (because they might be counting on you to help them study), and it can make you more successful.

6. Prepare for next semester (or the boards).

Finally, looking past the holidays, let’s think about your schedule for the new year. Starting in early January, your festivities are completed, and your traveling is done. Now what?

First, what were you able to accomplish? Did you study as much as you planned to? (And it’s okay if you didn’t!) Did you maybe not get through as many practice questions as you wanted to? 

Whether you underachieved, overachieved, or were right on track, early January is a good time to take stock of where you’re at and create an updated to-do list. 

If you’re still going to be in school, what do you need to accomplish before the next semester starts? Or if you’ve graduated, will you be looking to schedule your board exam? In other words, what do you need to do to achieve your next goal?

Once you know your goals and priorities, it’s time for another study plan. If you’re gearing up for the next semester, start planning your assignments and test dates once you have your syllabus. Maybe get a head start on reading some chapter highlights from your textbook to get a sense of what you’ll be learning. 

If you’re on track to take your board exam, consider signing up for a live study group or a self-paced course. Either option is a great resource to prepare you for board success!

Further Reading

Remember to please enjoy your holiday break! It can be a great time to get in some studying and remain focused on your NP education, but it should also be a time to relax and recharge. It’s absolutely possible to balance work, school, and life, and hopefully this post gave you some ideas to help you do that during the busy holiday season.

Have fun and good luck in the new year!

Looking for more (free!) study tips? Check out these other posts on the SMNP Reviews blog!