How to Get Into Nursing School

Three Parts:Preparing for Nursing SchoolChoosing a SchoolPreparing your Application Materials

Getting into nursing school can be a tough and detailed process. The application materials can be extensive, taking several months to complete. Dedication and motivation are required to complete the process. Nursing programs are very competitive, but you can increase your chances of acceptance with proper preparation and planning.

Part 1
Preparing for Nursing School

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    Graduate from high school. Graduating from high school or the equivalent is required to get into any nursing program. You should try to make very good grades and have a high GPA. You should also do well in your science coursework.
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    Decide which nursing degree you will pursue. You can go to school for an associate degree (ADN) or a baccalaureate (BSN) degree. [1] BSN programs are more competitive and have tougher admission standards. ADN programs take only two years to complete and are less expensive. [2] BSN programs require additional coursework and take four years to complete. Having a BSN degree will provide you with more job opportunities, a higher salary, and more career advancement opportunities.
    • There is also a licensed practical nursing degree, which is the lowest level nursing degree. It is usually an 11 month program for licensed practical nursing.
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    Talk with current nurses. Speaking with someone who is already working in the profession will give you a better idea of life as a nurse. If you do not know any nurses personally, you can contact a doctor's office or hospital and let them know you are a prospective nursing student. Most likely, they will happy to speak with you. [3]
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    Get experience in the healthcare field. You can volunteer or work part-time in the healthcare field. This will help you decide if nursing is the right career for you. You can also put this experience on your resume when you apply to school. [4] Many hospitals have volunteer programs.
    • It is imperative that new incoming nurses have a realistic and accurate degree of their job responsibilities as well as know the responsibilities of their allied professional help. A great way to do this is by beginning as a certified nursing assistant.

Part 2
Choosing a School

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    Develop your criteria. You should create a checklist by which you evaluate each school. Your checklist should include personal factors that are important to you, such as the location, tuition prices, and your career goals. Other important considerations are the pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) [5], graduation rate, career placement services, and the faculty. [6]
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    Determine the school's accreditation status. The school you choose should be accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) [7] or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education ( CCNE). [8] The school should also be approved by a state board of nursing.
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    Make a list of schools that you will apply to. This list will help you stay organized throughout the application process. Your list should include the application deadlines and the application requirements. Also pay attention to any prerequisites you may need.
    • Some nursing schools will admit students on the basis that all general education coursework is complete before the start of the program. These courses may include anatomy and physiology, microbiology, general psychology, and human development.
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    Attend an information session or open house. Many schools invite students who are interested in applying to an information session. These sessions discuss the application process, program curriculum, and tuition. [9] Ask any questions you may have if you are attending one of these sessions. Note that this is not the same as applying to the nursing program.

Part 3
Preparing your Application Materials

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    Take necessary admission assessments. Nursing classes demand that you have math, reading, and language skills. The Health Education Systems Incorporated ( HESI) [10] and the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) [11] are the most common tests. These tests help schools decide if you will do well in nursing school. To ensure that you get into nursing school, study for this test beforehand so you can do your best. Online practice tests and study guides are available for both the TEAS [12] and the HESI. [13]
    • Do not forget to sign up for any other testing the school may ask for. One example is the College Placement Test, or CPT. This is to determine if you are ready for college in general. You might need to study for this exam to make sure you get the highest scores possible.
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    Request official transcripts for any and all colleges you have attended. Some schools also want high school transcripts; if you are fresh out of high school, your high school transcript alone will suffice. Many schools have an online transcript request form you can fill out and they will send it electronically, cutting out some of the footwork you have to do. There may be a fee to send transcripts, no matter if they're paper or electronic.
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    Write your admissions essay, if required. Many nursing schools require potential students to write an essay on why they want to be a nurse or on the roles of a nurse. The essay will allow the administration to see who you are as a person.[14] Follow the instructions they give you and make sure your essay has no spelling or grammatical errors. If you know someone who has successfully gotten into nursing school, ask to see their essay for inspiration. You should also let someone else give you feedback on your essay.
    • Schools will be checking to see that you have a good understanding of the reality of nursing. It is a tough job and one that is physically, emotionally, and intellectually demanding.
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    Complete the application. It is important that you pay attention to application deadlines and submit your application as soon as possible. Turn your application packet in as early as possible, as some schools review them on a first-come, first-served basis, and nursing is extremely competitive.[15]
    • Nursing schools look at many factors when choosing applicants. Your grades, extracurricular activities, and references are important as well. [16] Schools are looking for well-rounded people.
    • The Nursing Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS) [17] allows you to apply to multiple schools using a single application. All nursing schools do not participate in this service. Make sure the schools to which you are applying use this system.
    • Make sure you have completed the application fully and submit any supplemental materials (essay, test scores) along with it. An incomplete or late application will not be reviewed by the admissions committee. [18]
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    Prepare for your interview. Some schools require an interview as part of the application process. It is important that you present yourself well and let the interviewers see that you will be a great addition to their nursing program. The interview is a time to sell yourself. [19]
    • You should dress professionally for the interview.
    • You should be knowledgeable about the school and program for which you are interviewing. You should do plenty of research ahead of time.
    • Be sure to turn your cell phone off, make eye contact, and have a firm handshake.
    • Have another person do a practice interview with you. You should practice talking about your career goals, experience, education, and why you want to become a nurse.


  • Be prepared to pay an application fee.
  • You may need to obtain immunizations prior to starting clinical courses. You will need to provide proof of these to retain your admission to the program.
  • If you want to gain admission to nursing school, you'll want as high a GPA as possible. Many schools assign a point system to applications, weighting high GPAs and good grades more than other items. If your grades aren't stellar, you may be able to petition the college based on your HESI scores if you did well, or you may be able to take a subject area test to prove your knowledge in a subject area you got a bad grade in.

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