Have you been considering nursing as a future career? Does the idea of GPA’s, entrance exams and volunteer hours stress you out? Today I’m sharing what I did to get into nursing school and thankfully go into my first choice school. BSN programs are so incredibly competitive so every good grade and high entrance exam score counts!
Depending on where you are applying, there may be different requirements for your program. I live in Houston, Texas and applied to schools in that area. Generally speaking, the handful of school’s I applied to where looking for a minimum 3.0 Science and Overall GPA, a minimum of a B in your mandatory science courses which include Anatomy & Physiology I & II, Microbiology, and Chemistry and you must take an entrance exam which will be either the HESI or the TEAS. Seems simple enough, right? Well, just wait until you are applying to programs that only accept ~120 students and they receive 1,000 applicants!
Let’s start out with those required science classes. If you’ve ever heard anyone talk about A&P, the first thing you usually hear is how we have to learn all of the bones and muscles of the body. Did you know there are 206 bones in the adult human body? (That will definitely be a test question in A&P I, the HESI and TEAS tests, you’re welcome!) Now you do, and yes you need to know them. A&P courses are no joke and require a lot of study time, so make sure you are aware of the commitment early on in your prerequisite courses! Once you successfully get through all the bones, muscles, and joints of the body, you’ll move on to A&P II where you learn about all the different systems on the body and how they function to keep us alive and well. A&P II was my favorite of the two courses as I was more intrigued by how are bodies work! Chemistry wasn’t too bad of a class for me, it is very basic intro chemistry that you have to take so nothing to crazy like rocket science 🙂 My least favorite of the required sciences was Microbiology. It could have been because my professor was really dull or the fact that staphylococcus aureus stinks like garbage and we seemed to use it every other class, but I wasn’t a fan at all. Microbiology is where we learned about different types of bacteria, viruses and how they effect the body which is very important for a prerequisite course. Between these four required science courses I managed to pull off a 3.56 Science GPA which helped me to get into my first choice program. My school required a minimum 3.0 Science GPA to apply, but the average student admitted has at least a 3.5 Science GPA! Very thankful for that extra 0.06 on my GPA because like I mentioned in the beginning it C O U N T S!
My least favorite part about the nursing school application process was the entrance exams. If you end up applying to a few schools that all accept the same entrance exam, then you luckily only have to study for one exam. Or if you’re like me and end up applying to that one oddball school that takes a different entrance exam then you’ll find yourself stressing out about studying for two different very important exams. But have no fear! I’ll be giving you tips on how to study for both the TEAS and HESI exams in a later post. These entrance exams could be the make or break point of your application. Some schools weigh heavily on these exams. You could have a perfect 4.0 GPA, but if your entrance exam scores are not up to par you may find yourself not getting into a program. My school required a minimum of a 70 on the TEAS test, but the average score of an admitted student was an 86! Have I mentioned yet that applying to nursing school is competitive AF? Just making sure I got that point across. Don’t take these exams lightly and make sure you adequately prepare for them. These are the “study the night before/cram a bunch of info in a week before” types of tests. They are comprehensive and cover areas across english, vocab, reading, math, A&P, and basic science. Things you may not have focused on since high school. I’m embarrassed but will admit, because ya girl is transparent, the first time I took the TEAS I did not pass the english section of the exam. I was S H O O K. Asked myself how that could possibly be, maybe the computer was broken? Nope, I just really needed a refresh on pronoun-antecedent agreements. Do you remember what that is? It’s totally cool if you don’t, but you better study it!
The most important take away from this is, you need to work hard in those prereq courses and study for those entrance exams. The more A’s you can get the better. Start by looking up what your school considers to be prereq courses. If you are like me and are a second degree applicant, you may have some B’s & C’s from your earlier years in college. Consider retaking any of those lower graded courses to boost your GPA. It counts, I promise. I retook freshman History because I had a C in that class and got an A in it the second time around. Retaking that course boosted my GPA a few points! When it came to taking my science courses, I took them one at a time over the course of a year because I wanted to be able to focus on them and do well. Each of the four required sciences requires a good amount of study time and dedication, so keep this in mind if you are considering taking more than one at a time. Also set up a dedicated study plan for these classes. These courses require a lot of memorization, so plan ahead and don’t wait until the night before to study! When it comes to entrance exams, buy a well know study guide such as this one for the HESI and this one for the TEAS and truly study it! I set aside one hour per night for a month for each exam and this was plenty of time for me. I also only focused on one exam at a time, meaning I studied for the HESI for a month, got that exam out of the way and then moved on the the TEAS. They cover very similar material when it comes to reading, english and math, but the science and vocab portions differ a bit between the two exams. You could study for and take these exams at the same time, it’s personally up to you!
I hope this gave you some insight for what to expect when applying to nursing school. Keep in mind, sometimes no matter how good your grades or scores are, there is a possibility that you won’t get in on your first try. Don’t give up though! I initially applied to one school THREE times while I was waiting to be eligible to apply to my first choice school. Stay tuned for a post on how I studied for my entrance exams and even score a 100% on the A&P portion of the HESI!