Have you ever wondered what kind of nursing classes you’ll need to get into nursing school? In this article, we’ll outline some of the most common prerequisites for nursing school so you can be one step ahead in your application process.
- Prerequisites for Nursing School
- What GPA Do I Need to Get into Nursing School?
- What Should I Look For in a Nursing School?
- Nursing School Entrance Exams
- Prerequisites For Nursing School (Video)
- More Resources
Prerequisites for Nursing School
When it comes to the courses you’ll need to take to get into nursing school, the exact requirements/course names will depend on the school, but let’s go through the top courses required.
Anatomy and Physiology (A&P)
You must get a baseline understanding of the body before you can understand what happens when things go wrong. Anatomy and physiology is typically a two-semester course, often referred to A&P 1 and A&P 2.
If you go to a really great school, you may even have access to a cadaver lab during A&P! This really enhances learning, so when you’re considering where to take these courses, a good question to ask is what kind of resources are available for students.
Chemistry covers the fundamental principles of chemistry, including the properties of matter, chemical reactions, and molecular structure. You may have to take multiple chemistry classes like basic chem courses (Chem 101 and Chem 102) as well as organic chemistry (which is more difficult and complex).
Micro focuses on the study of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is a more detailed perspective than your regular Biology 101 and 102 courses.
Psychology (Psych 101)
Psychology is a very important course for nurses, as it helps them understand patients’ behavior. By understanding psychology, nurses can provide better care and support to their patients. With this course, you can also get into the social work field.
Human Growth and Development
This is another type of psychology course. In this course, you will learn about the physical, mental, and emotional changes that occur throughout the lifespan. This is important for nurses to know so that they can provide appropriate care for each stage of life.
Sociology (Soc 101)
Sociology is the study of human society, including social behavior, culture, and institutions, and can provide valuable insights into the social determinants of health, which are the social and economic factors that influence health outcomes. Understanding the social determinants of health can be particularly important for nurses who work in community health settings or who provide care for vulnerable populations.
Most nursing schools require at least one English course, possibly two. This is because nurses need to be able to communicate effectively with their patients. English courses will help you to improve your writing and communication skills.
Nurses need to have a strong understanding of nutrition when it comes to providing care. This is because the food we eat directly impacts our health and is part of disease prevention and management. Nutrition courses will teach you about the different nutrients our bodies need and how to create healthy meals.
The nursing field is data-driven, which means that nurses need to be able to understand and interpret statistical information. A statistics course will teach you how to do this so that you can effectively use data in your practice.
These are some of the nursing core courses you need to take when joining nursing school. These courses will help you understand the basics of nursing and provide the skills you need to be a successful nurse. In these foundational courses, you must usually get grades of a B or higher to enter any nursing school.
What GPA Do I Need to Get into Nursing School?
In general, most nursing programs require a minimum GPA of 2.5 to 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. However, some nursing programs may have more competitive admission criteria and require a higher GPA, such as a minimum of 3.0 or 3.5.
If your GPA is not-so-hot, you can re-take courses to improve it. Also, don’t forget to round out your nursing school application because the GPA is only one piece of the puzzle. Nursing schools may also consider other factors, like clinical experience (maybe you work as a CNA!), personal statements, and interviews, in their admission decisions. I highly recommend researching the specific admission requirements for the nursing programs you are interested in and to work towards achieving a competitive GPA while also developing your clinical skills and experiences.
What Should I Look For in a Nursing School?
- Accreditation: Make sure the nursing program is accredited by the appropriate accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific quality standards and prepares graduates for professional nursing practice. Even if the school is currently accredited, make sure you ask when the accreditation will be up for renewal. The last thing you want is for them to not get re-accredited during your time there, as that could mean you would not be eligible to take your NCLEX and therefore become an RN.
- Clinical opportunities: Look for nursing programs that offer a variety of clinical opportunities, including experience in different healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and community health centers. Clinical experience is essential for developing the skills and knowledge necessary for professional nursing practice. A great question to ask is which healthcare facilities/hospitals that the nursing students will have clinical experiences at.
- Faculty qualifications and experience: Check the credentials and experience of the nursing faculty. Look for programs with faculty members who have clinical experience in the field and who are committed to teaching and mentoring students. You can even look them up on LinkedIn!
- Student support services: Look for nursing programs that offer support services to help students succeed, such as academic advising, tutoring, and counseling services. A supportive learning environment can help students manage the demands of nursing school and succeed in their coursework. With how much nursing school costs, having these resources available at no cost is a big benefit.
- Resources and facilities: Check the resources and facilities available to nursing students, such as simulation labs, computer labs, and libraries. A well-equipped learning environment can help students gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their nursing careers.
- NCLEX pass rates: Check the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates for the nursing program. High pass rates indicate that the program prepares students well for the licensure exam and for professional nursing practice. You can always ask what the pass rates are, but to just look at a bunch of schools at a glance simply requires you to go to the website of your state board of nursing. NCLEX pass rates are publicly reported numbers, so you should know the pass rate of any school you’re looking at.
- Cost and financial aid: Consider the cost of the nursing program and the availability of financial aid and scholarships. Look for programs that offer affordable tuition and financial aid options to help students manage the cost of their education.
Nursing School Entrance Exams
The required entrance exams vary from school to school. Here are the most common scores that prospective nursing students are required to report to be considered for entrance into the program.
- TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills): The TEAS is a standardized exam that assesses a student’s academic preparedness for nursing school. The test measures skills in reading, math, science, and English language usage. Many nursing programs require applicants to take the TEAS.
- HESI (Health Education Systems Incorporated): The HESI is another standardized exam that measures a student’s academic knowledge in areas such as math, science, reading, and vocabulary. The HESI is used by some nursing programs as an entrance exam.
- Kaplan Nursing Admission Test: The Kaplan Nursing Admission Test is a standardized exam that assesses a student’s academic knowledge in math, science, reading, and writing. Some nursing programs use the Kaplan test as an entrance exam.
- ACT or SAT: Some nursing programs may require students to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of their application. The ACT and SAT are standardized exams that assess a student’s academic knowledge and readiness for college-level coursework.
Prerequisites For Nursing School (Video)
If you prefer to listen rather than read, check out my YouTube video below that walks through the content of this post.
What Is a Prerequisite for Nursing School?
Prerequisites (sometimes called “pre-reqs”, pronounced pre-wreck) are a requirement or condition that must be met before you are eligible to take a particular course or enroll in a particular program. In the context of nursing education, prerequisite courses are typically courses that you must complete before you can begin the nursing program. They are not nursing courses, rather more general courses (as listed above).
When Do You Take Nursing School Prerequisites?
These courses are taken prior to starting nursing school, during your first 1-2 years of college. It is a common misconception that people who start nursing school as first-year college students are beginning with classes nursing right away. You must first get good grades (B or above) in the prerequisite courses that were listed above. If those grades are sufficient and you get into the nursing program at your college, then you will begin actual nursing courses.
What Is the Easiest Way to Get Into Nursing School?
Nursing school can be quite competitive. This is because there is a shortage of educators, and therefore shortage of spots. Therefore, getting in can be tough. While not easy, you could opt to complete a 2-year nursing degree (an associates degree in nursing) rather than the traditional 4-year degree (BSN). Then, while working on completing your BSN while working as an RN (and possibly get some tuition reimbursement!)
How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting into Nursing School?
Have a great GPA (3.5/4.0+ is best), nail the interview, and it definitely helps to have volunteer work and/or clinical experience as well.
What Are the Different Types of Nursing School?
To become a registered nurse, you have to:
- Graduate from an accredited nursing program
- Pass the NCLEX exam
- Pass the background check
There are different ways to graduate from an accredited school, and I go over them in this blog post.
Is It Hard to Get into Nursing School?
It’s actually kind of hard to get into nursing school these days. Again, it’s because of limited spots in nursing school. Therefore, nursing schools admit the students most likely to complete their program. To learn more about how to apply, click here.
Getting ready for nursing school clinicals, but feeling unprepared?
Nursing Skills Refresh from FreshRN is a self-paced video course for both new and experienced nurses. Whether you’re preparing for your first clinical experience, or need to brush up on your nursing skills, this course is for you. Each lesson walks you through the basic tasks and concepts you will experience in the clinical setting. Once completed, you’ll feel comfortable in a hospital setting, understand the basics of what the bedside experience will feel like, and know insider tips and tricks that will make you feel confident and in control.