How to Survive Pathophysiology

Hello all! Today I will be sharing my tips and experience to help you pass Pathophysiology. If you have not check out my other advice posts on some of my other pre-reqs check out my study tips page here. These posts are pretty detailed and may help some of you!

Quick side note: My school just began requiring  pre-nursing students to take Pathophysiology. As a result, I took this course as a pre-req alongside other pre-req courses which you can see here.

My Patho class was a hybrid course, meaning we were not required to have lecture every week, but my professor preferred it that way. We were provide with the Powerpoints that she lectured from each Friday, but they were voice-over Powerpoints. These were a valuable tool, because it made lecture feel like more of a review.


What did you bring to lecture with you?

  • Class Binder (notes from that weeks Powerpoints)
  • Black Pen
  • Highlighter (to highlight vocab)

How did you prepare for lecture?

I would make sure to have watched (and take notes on) the voice-over PowerPoints, before lecture. This really helps to understand the content when she goes over it in person. As you can see, I love to draw out concept maps, pictures and diagrams and use color.  This helps makes note-taking a lot more entertaining. I am also a visual learner, so it also helps cement the information in my mind.

I would also review my notes the night before the morning of lecture. If there were any lab values to know, I would also be learning those by using flashcards during the week.

How did you take notes during lecture?

  • Voice Over Powerpoints: For the voice-over Powerpoints before lectures, I would evenly divide the Powerpoints between the week to avoid being overwhelmed. I would basically play and pause my professor as the slides went on, because some slides she would let us know “That is for health assessment,” or “That is for Med-Surg.”. I would then go over and highlight vocab words in yellow, lab values in orange and important concepts/slides in pink.

I would not print out all of the PowerPoints since my professor was so selective, but I did print out really long slides with a lot of info on them (long symptoms lists), just to save myself time. I would print these after watching/listening to the Powerpoint.

  • During Class: During our actual class meeting time on Fridays, I would basically add into my Powerpoint notes anything extra she said or cross out whatever she told us we don’t need to know in pencil. I would also have a red pen/pink highlighter handy to underline anything my professor would hint at a lot.

**Tip: Listen to your professor/instructor if they repeat themselves or hint at things you may want to know that.  Sometimes my professor would even say “Hey, this is a SATA question”.

How did you prepare for exams?

My Patho exams were NCLEX style so I saw a few primary nursing intervention questions, patient lab value chart-type, essay questions, and the dreaded SATA questions! Although, I love the Quizlet app/website, I relied on index cards for this course. I found that I learned the content better by writing the cards out by hand and flipping through them.  I would take my all of my notes and turn them into index card form for vocab definitions, lab values symptoms, etiologies, pathophysiology, etc.

If I had a dry erase board I would write down the answer and flip over the index card to check my answer. If I struggled with that card I would draw a little star in pencil in the corner. I would also basically talk out loud when I was studying in my room. I would basically lecture myself this sounds crazy and my suite mates may think I am crazy, but it worked!

I have always been using this technique since elementary school (thanks to my mom) and it seems to work well for me. I would of course divide my studying up evenly like I normally do and then the day before the exam I would complete a final review. My final review consists of  going over tough concepts, lab values and then taking the list of review topics from my professor and writing out everything I know about each topic.

That is all I have for you all! I hope this helps some of you nursing students out there. If you have any questions. Feel free to ask in the comments!

2 thoughts on “How to Survive Pathophysiology

    1. That is great! Everyone has different study techniques. It just proves we are all unique in so many ways! Thanks for sharing!


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