Getting into Nursing School: Discover the 18 Expert Tips for Success

Unlock 18 expert tips to improve your chances of getting into nursing school. This guide covers everything from required courses to creating an impactful personal statement.

If you’re dreaming of a fulfilling career in nursing, this guide is for you. Getting into nursing school can be competitive, but with the right steps, you can boost your chances of success. We’ll take you through the key requirements, potential obstacles, and share 18 expert tips to make your application shine.

Requirements for Getting into Nursing School

Below are the requirements you need for getting into nursing school:

Nursing school prerequisites
  1. Prerequisite Courses:
    • Nursing schools commonly request specific high school courses as prerequisites. These typically include biology, chemistry, and mathematics. In some cases, additional subjects like anatomy, physiology, and psychology may also be required.
  2. Strong Academic Record:
    • A robust academic background is fundamental for gaining admission to nursing school. This involves maintaining a competitive Grade Point Average (GPA), especially in science and math courses. Many programs establish a minimum GPA requirement for consideration.
  3. Clinical Experience:
    • Demonstrating hands-on clinical experience is a pivotal aspect of your application. This can be acquired through volunteering or employment in healthcare settings. It not only showcases your dedication to the field but also provides firsthand exposure to the healthcare environment.
  4. Entrance Exams:
    • Most nursing programs include standardized tests as part of their admission process. Commonly accepted exams include the SAT or ACT, alongside specialized nursing entrance assessments such as the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) or HESI (Health Education Systems, Inc.) exam. Achieving competitive scores on these exams is vital.
  5. Letters of Recommendation:
    • Robust letters of recommendation offer valuable insights into your character, work ethic, and suitability for nursing. These letters are typically authored by teachers, healthcare professionals, or employers who are familiar with your abilities. They should speak to your academic prowess, interpersonal skills, and potential for success in nursing.
  6. Personal Statement:
    • Your personal statement holds significant weight in your application. It provides a platform for you to express your enthusiasm for nursing and elucidate why you’re a standout candidate. You should articulately convey your motivations, experiences, and long-term aspirations within the nursing profession.
  7. Background Check and Immunizations:
    • Nursing schools typically conduct background checks to ensure patient safety. Certain criminal offenses may potentially impact your eligibility for admission, contingent on the school’s policies. Additionally, maintaining up-to-date vaccinations is often mandatory for participation in clinical rotations.

What are my Chances of Getting into Nursing School

The following are the 18 expert tips to improve your chances of getting into nursing school:

  1. Start Early:
    • Initiating preparations for nursing school well in advance is highly recommended. This involves enrolling in pertinent high school courses such as biology, chemistry, and mathematics. Engaging in extracurricular activities related to healthcare and considering volunteering or gaining work experience in a healthcare setting can significantly bolster your application.
  2. Maintain a Strong GPA:
    • A robust Grade Point Average (GPA) is a critical component of your application. It’s particularly important to excel in science and math courses, as they form the basis for nursing curriculum. Consistency in academic performance underscores your dedication to your studies and showcases your readiness for the rigor of nursing education.
  3. Master the Prerequisites:
    • Ensuring that you have completed all mandated prerequisite courses is imperative. This encompasses a spectrum of subjects ranging from anatomy and physiology to microbiology. Possessing a solid grasp of these foundational courses is indispensable for excelling in nursing school.
  4. Ace Entrance Exams:
    • Thorough preparation for entrance exams, including the SAT, ACT, as well as specialized nursing entrance assessments like the TEAS or HESI, is crucial. Employing resources like study guides, practice exams, or enrolling in preparatory courses can significantly enhance your chances of achieving competitive scores.
  5. Diversify Clinical Experience:
    • Actively seeking hands-on experience in diverse healthcare settings is highly advantageous. Volunteering or securing employment in environments like hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or other healthcare facilities not only demonstrates your dedication to the field but also provides invaluable insights into the dynamics of healthcare delivery.
  6. Build Relationships with Teachers:
    • Actively participating in classes, seeking clarification when needed, and engaging in discussions are instrumental in building strong connections with your teachers. Cultivating these relationships fosters a conducive environment for receiving meaningful and positive letters of recommendation.
  7. Craft a Compelling Personal Statement:
    • Your personal statement serves as a platform to articulate your passion for nursing and elucidate why you’re a standout candidate. Offering specificity regarding your motivations, experiences, and aspirations within the field of nursing strengthens your application.
  8. Research Schools Thoroughly:
    • Gaining comprehensive insight into the specific requirements, values, and expectations of each nursing program you’re interested in is essential. Tailoring your application to align with the distinctive attributes of each institution showcases your dedication and increases your competitiveness.
  9. Stay Organized:
    • Maintaining meticulous records of application deadlines, requisite documents, and any supplemental materials demanded by each school is pivotal. This demonstrates your attention to detail and sense of responsibility, which are highly valued qualities in a prospective nursing student.
  10. Seek Feedback on Your Application:
    • Before finalizing and submitting your application, seeking input from trusted mentors, teachers, or advisors can be immensely beneficial. Their valuable feedback can offer insights on areas for improvement, ultimately strengthening your application.
  1. Be Authentic:
    • Authenticity is a cornerstone of a compelling application. Admissions committees seek individuals who are sincere in their commitment to nursing and who demonstrate the potential to positively contribute to the nursing community. Presenting your genuine self in the application process is highly valued.
  2. Prepare for Interviews:
    • In the event that interviews are part of the admissions process, diligent preparation is key. Practice common interview questions to effectively communicate your motivations, experiences, and goals. This is an opportunity to showcase your communication skills and professionalism, further solidifying your candidacy.
  3. Stay Persistent:
    • It’s not uncommon to receive rejection letters in the competitive realm of nursing education. If you possess a genuine passion for nursing, maintaining your determination and resilience is crucial. Use any setbacks as opportunities for growth and continue pursuing your goal.
  4. Consider Alternative Programs:
    • In cases where entry into traditional nursing programs poses challenges, exploring alternative routes like associate’s degree programs or accelerated nursing programs can be a viable option. These programs offer alternative pathways to achieving your goal of becoming a nurse.
  5. Highlight Your Unique Qualities:
    • Showcasing what sets you apart from other applicants is a powerful way to stand out. Whether it’s a special skill, a unique life experience, or a particular perspective, emphasizing these distinctive qualities can significantly enhance your application.
  6. Demonstrate Adaptability and Resilience:
    • Nursing is a dynamic field that demands adaptability and resilience. Highlight instances from your personal or academic life where you’ve demonstrated the ability to adapt to change and overcome challenges. This underscores your readiness for the demands of a nursing career.
  7. Stay Informed about Healthcare Trends:
    • Remaining up-to-date with current healthcare issues and trends is essential. Demonstrating knowledge about the evolving landscape of healthcare showcases your commitment to the field and your awareness of the broader healthcare context.
  8. Show a Commitment to Lifelong Learning:
    • Expressing a genuine interest in ongoing education and professional development is highly valued. Nursing is a field that is constantly evolving, and a commitment to continuous learning signals your readiness to adapt to advancements and provide the best care possible.

Factors that Can Hinder Your Chances of getting into nursing school

18 expert tips to improve your chances of getting into nursing school

The following are the factors that can hinder your chances of getting into nursing school:

  1. Low GPA:
    • A low-Grade Point Average (GPA) could pose a challenge in getting into nursing school. This is because nursing programs are highly sought-after, and many institutions have set minimum GPA requirements for consideration. If your GPA falls below this threshold, it may be more difficult to secure admission.
  2. Lack of Prerequisite Courses:
    • Not completing the required prerequisite courses can be a significant barrier. These courses form the foundational knowledge needed for success in nursing school. If you haven’t fulfilled these prerequisites, it could delay your application or potentially disqualify you from consideration.
  3. Limited Clinical Experience:
    • Insufficient hands-on experience in healthcare settings may indicate a lower level of commitment to the field. Nursing schools highly value clinical experience as it showcases your grasp of the healthcare environment and your ability to function effectively within it. Without this experience, your application may be less competitive.
  4. Poorly Written Personal Statement:
    • A poorly constructed personal statement can weaken your application. This is your chance to express your enthusiasm for nursing and articulate why you’re a strong candidate. If your statement lacks clarity, coherence, or fails to effectively convey your motivations, it could negatively impact your chances of admission.
  5. Negative Letters of Recommendation:
    • Letters of recommendation play a pivotal role in your application. If these letters are lukewarm, critical, or fail to adequately emphasize your qualifications, it can harm your chances. It’s crucial to select recommenders who know you well and can attest to your abilities and suitability for nursing school.
  6. Criminal Record:
    • Certain criminal offenses may potentially disqualify you from admission to nursing school. Each institution has its own policies regarding which offenses are considered disqualifying. It’s imperative to check with the admissions office or consult the school’s official guidelines to understand their stance on criminal records.
  7. Inadequate Preparation for Entrance Exams:
    • Failing to sufficiently prepare for standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, TEAS, or HESI could have a negative impact on your application. Low scores may serve as a hurdle to admission, as many nursing programs have specific score requirements.
  8. Inadequate Research on Schools:
    • Neglecting to thoroughly research and understand the specific requirements, values, and expectations of each nursing program you apply to can hinder your chances. Tailoring your application to align with the unique characteristics of each school is crucial for a competitive application.
  9. Missed Deadlines or Incomplete Applications:
    • Neglecting to submit all the necessary materials, including transcripts, test scores, and recommendation letters, by the specified deadlines could lead to your application being rejected or deferred to a later term.


With determination, preparation, and a strategic approach, you can significantly improve your chances of getting into nursing school. Remember to showcase your passion, dedication, and unique qualities to stand out from the crowd.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1: Can I apply to nursing school if I haven’t taken all the prerequisite courses? A1: It’s advisable to complete all required courses before doing your nursing school application, but some programs may allow you to complete them concurrently with your nursing coursework.

Q2: What if I have a criminal record? Can I still apply to get into nursing school? A2: It depends on the nature of the offense. Some convictions may disqualify you, but each school’s policy varies. Contact the admissions office for guidance.

Q3: How important is clinical experience in the admissions process? A3: Clinical experience is highly valued, as it demonstrates your commitment to the field and provides valuable insight into the healthcare environment.

Q4: Is it possible to reapply if I’m not accepted into nursing school on my first attempt? A4: Absolutely. Many successful nurses faced initial rejections. Use the experience to strengthen your application and try again.