Struggling with dosage calculations? You’re not alone. It’s a common hurdle in nursing school, and guess what? It’s okay to find it challenging. Many programs throw a dosage calculations exam at you early on, with high passing scores required (up to 100% sometimes!!).
And don’t expect your school to actually teach you how to solve dosage calculations…even though you’ll likely be required to pass your dosage calculations exam before you’re allowed to fully participate in clinicals. Yes, that means that if you do not pass your required dosage calculations exam, then you will fail your semester.
But worry not – I’m here to simplify this for you.
Breaking the Procrastination Barrier
As a professional nursing tutor, I’m going to tell you something that might be hard to hear, but I’m gonna tell it to you with all the love: the biggest obstacle to mastering dosage calculations is yourself.
Because when something feels overwhelming, makes us feel anxious, or we just feel like we’re bad at it…well, it’s human nature to procrastinate. But delaying practice only creates a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.
Basically, you feel like you’re going to be bad at dosage calculations, so you avoid them. But when you avoid dosage calculations, you’re not learning and practicing, which means that you’re never going to get better at them!
The easiest way to master nursing school dosage calculations is to pre-decide on a simple, easy-to-follow, effective practice plan that isn’t overwhelming to your already busy schedule.
Confronting Math Anxiety: You’re Not Alone
If you struggle with math anxiety, you’re also not alone!
Many Nursing Students I work with have math anxiety, and it’s a HUGE reason you’re probably avoiding dosage calculations. It’s a real thing, and it’s perfectly okay to acknowledge it. If you’ve ever thought, “I’ve never been good at math,” trust me…it does NOT mean you can’t be good at dosage calculations in nursing school!
In fact, I always tell my tutoring students that as long as you can multiply numbers across the top, multiply numbers across the bottom, then divide those two numbers, then that’s all the math you need to do to become GREAT at dosage calculations.
The “hard” part of dosage calculations is not the math, it’s learning to set-up the math problem in the first place.
However, when you don’t realize that math is not the problem, math anxiety can cause you to avoid math…leading to the procrastination we talked about.
Luckily, a solid practice plan is an easy way to start overcoming your math anxiety, too.
A Low-Stress Practice Plan: Your Secret Weapon
That’s why my years of experience tutoring nursing students have taught me that the key to conquering dosage calculations lies in consistent, stress-free practice. I’ve got two free practice plans that I use with both my 1:1 tutoring students and the nursing students in my Group Tutoring Membership. Both are simple and effective, and . It’s about quality, not quantity. Just a few calculations daily can significantly boost your confidence and skills.
That’s because short, consistent practice is far more effective than long cram sessions followed by zero follow-up practice. In fact, that’s the perfect recipe for “brain-dumping”. (You know exactly what I mean…)
That’s why I recommend starting with just 2-3 practice dosage calculations per day, for 5-7 days a week. This approach is manageable, even on your busiest days, as it will only take you about 15-20 minutes at a time. This helps build your confidence gradually, which is going to make your math anxiety manageable at the same time that you’re improving your med math skills.
Practice this way for about 30-days, then do what all good nurses do: evaluate!
If you feel confident (and are consistently getting your dosage calcs correct) after 30-days of practice, then it’s okay to quit practicing. This is a skill like riding a bike; once you master it, you’ll never forget it!
If you do not feel confident after 30-days of practice…simply do another 30-days of practicing! This isn’t a race. The goal is to get you feeling confident with dosage calculations, and be able to get them correct 100% of the time.
What If My Dosage Calculations Exam is Next Week?
If you don’t have 30+ days to practice before you next required dosage calculations exam in nursing school, then I recommend what I call the “Cram Plan”. (Yes, I know I literally just told you not to cram, and this is the only time I ever recommend it…but there’s a twist that will prevent the “brain dump” afterwards!)
If you need to practice Dosage Calculations in a hurry, then plan a long stretch of time, like 4-6 hours, when you can sit and practice one dosage calculation after another. Do this continuously using your preferred method (if you don’t have a preferred method, I’d recommend the dosage calculations method that I teach) until you are getting them consistently correct and starting to recognize some of the patterns in the questions.
At that point, you can take a break from your “cram session.” But you’re not done practicing yet!
Because now you have to commit to the long-term practice. And that means you still need to do 1-2 practice problems per day, 3-5 days per week, for at least 30 more days.
Yes, that means you HAVE to continue practicing, even after you are passed your Dosage calculations exam, if you want this to work once and for all. It doesn’t take that much time, and it will be worth it!
Why This Works: The Neuroscience Behind Effective Learning
The reason that the short bursts of extended practice is so important is because whenever you learn something new, your brain creates neural connections.
If you stop practicing – as many do after passing a dosage calculations test – those connections weaken and your brain starts to think you don’t need them. So it gets rid of them…oops.
But when you consistent practice in short bursts over an extended period of time, you’re clearly communicating to your brain that these neural pathways are important. That tells your brain that dosage calculations is a skill that needs to be moved to long-term memory, so that you’ll never forget it.
(Spoiler: this is a great tip for studying nursing content from your lectures too, and it’s built-in to how I teach all my tutoring students as the best way to study in nursing school!)
Conclusion: Your Path to Dosage Calculation Mastery
In closing, remember that mastering dosage calculations is a journey, not a sprint (even if you’re sprinting to pass your dosage calculations exam in a few days!). It’s about consistent practice and overcoming test anxiety.
So, take a deep breath, embrace the challenge, and start building those neural connections today. You’ve got this, and I’m here to help you every step of the way. Want to get a printable copy of the 2 Proven Practice Plans for Dosage Calculations? Get them right here.
Good luck on your nursing school journey – you’re going to make an amazing nurse someday!
Nicole is a Professional Nursing Tutor with over 15 years experience, and the founder of Your Nursing Tutor. She has a BSN, and an MA in Clinical Psychology. Nicole specializes in providing easy-to-follow, proven study methods (like the Silver Bullet Study System) that transform frustrated nursing students into calm, confident nurses! When she’s not helping students through her Live Tutoring Membership, Nicole loves spending time with her husband, homeschooling their 6 kids, and staring at sunflowers.