Difficulty of Nursing Prerequisite Courses

As you may know, many (but not all) nursing schools require the completion of prerequisite courses prior to applying for a nursing program. In many cases, having even a single prerequisite course in progress or not completed is highly discouraged or prohibited. Because of this, it may take years before you are even eligible to apply to a nursing program. With the condition of the economy in the last several years, nursing has become very popular. It’s not unheard of to hear about over 1,000 students applying for a nursing program at a community college.

The key is to do well in nursing prerequisite courses and to do them as quickly as possible. Because some prerequisite courses are a lot more difficult than others, it’s advisable to not take some of them concurrently. Here is the way you should take the most common nursing prerequisite courses.

Non-Science General Education Courses

Most of these courses will be easy. You can even do them online at many community colleges at a low price. Many nursing programs either strongly prefer or require that students complete their GE requirements before entering the nursing program. If you have been out of school for a long time, these are excellent courses to get used to school again.

Make sure you get an “A” in these courses. It does not take too many “B” to lower your GPA significantly. You want to save the “B” grades for the truly difficult science courses.

Easy Nursing Prerequisite Courses

They will almost always be social science courses such as psychology and sociology. They will be taken as GE requirements by many other students as well, which should lessen the competition. You can take them concurrently with other GE courses. Taking 2 or 3 easy prerequisite or GE courses while working full time is time consuming, but otherwise not that difficult.

Difficult Science Prerequisite Courses

Depending on the nursing schools you are applying to, it’s very likely you will need to take the following:

  • Anatomy and Physiology (1 year) – often requires biology as a prerequisite
  • Microbiology – often requires chemistry and either biology / A&P as a prerequisite

You may have to take the following as well either as part of the nursing prerequisites or due to being a prerequisite for A&P or microbiology:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology

Anatomy is difficult due to the enormous amount memorization required. If you’ve ever taken high school anatomy, the teacher probably required you to memorize all 206 bones in the human body. In a college anatomy class, you will have to memorize all of that plus all of the bumps and grooves of each bone as well.  To survive anatomy, you will need to learn how to memorize a lot of material so that you can regurgitate it at the exam. It is highly recommended that you do not attempt to take another science course at the same time. It’s better to take an easy GE course or easy prerequisite concurrently. Or you can take this class by itself.

Physiology and microbiology are more like concept courses. There will be some memorization, but that’s not the main goal like it was with anatomy. These are moderately difficult science courses. Again, try not to take two science courses at the same time.

If you’re required to take chemistry, try to make sure that your algebra and math are solid before enrolling. Chemistry can be hell if your algebra is weak. Don’t attempt it if you really need an algebra refresher, because you won’t understand how to balance chemical equations if your algebra is also weak. Many community colleges offer a refresher algebra course for those who have taken elementary or intermediate algebra. You can also attempt to use a self-study algebra refresher guide as well.If your math is solid, then it’s just a matter of learning the concepts and balancing chemical equations. This is another course where you don’t want to mix with other science courses.

If you have to mix science courses, try to do it without involving A&P and chemistry.

Make sure you try to do very well in the course. Don’t settle for a “B” or “C” grade. It may seem like everyone is flunking A&P, chemistry, or microbiology due to the difficulty. That is not true. There are too many students who can get straight As in these difficult science courses and they will take away your spot in nursing school.

Nursing Schools With No Prerequisite Courses

If you don’t want to worry about any of these difficult prerequisite courses, you can enroll in a private for-profit nursing school without having taken any of these classes As a bonus, you won’t have to experience the multi-year waiting lists or very high GPA requirements at state universities and community colleges. The downside is the cost, which can be anywhere from $25,000 on up. Keep in mind that you’ll eventually have to take difficult science courses like A&P anyway because they are part of the degree program. On the other hand, you won’t be kicked out because you barely got a “C” in A&P. Nevertheless, it is possible to get into a nursing school with no prerequisites at a private college or university.

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