How to get into nursing school despite your low GPA?

Despite popular belief, you CAN get into nursing school and become an RN despite a low GPA. Read this post for 8 creative ways to achieve your RN dream.

January 2024

Looking to upgrade your career? Demand for Registered Nurses(RNs) continues to grow as the Baby Boomer generation ages, adding patients to the network and removing retiring nurses from the workforce. In fact, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.93 million new and replacement RN will be needed by 2032.

Applying to nursing school without perfect grades

In response to this need, many colleges now offer accelerated degree programs. These concentrated curricula enable students who already have a bachelor's or graduate degree in a non-nursing field to fast track their way to a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree in just 11 to 18months. 

But what if your grades weren't so hot when you obtained that first degree? What if your GPA wasn't quite a perfect 4.0—or even a slightly less perfect 3.0? Can you still get into an accelerated nursing program? 


You may need to get creative. You'll definitely need an open mind about which schools you're willing to attend (including possibly relocating to make it happen). Finally, you'll need to work hard—not just to get into nursing school, but once you've been accepted. But you can definitely still get into an accelerated degree program.

8 ways to get accepted into nursing school

  1. Get to know your chosen school's Admissions Advisor. They're real people with a real interest in helping you get your foot in the door—and intimate knowledge of how to make that happen.
  2. Go back to school. Retake courses you did poorly in the first time around, and/or take new courses you can ace (even general education courses like volleyball, nutrition, etc.) to bump your GPA back up to 3.0.
  3. Seek out nursing schools that look at GPA in different ways. Some accept GPAs as low as 2.5, some only consider your GPA for nursing-specific prerequisites or during your last 60 hours of coursework, and some schools ignore your GPA altogether as long as you've completed the prerequisites.
  4. Was your GPA low because of a specific reason? For example, because you spent a semester caring for your late grandmother, or had to work two jobs because your financial aid fell through? Write a letter explaining those circumstances—and the steps you've taken to overcome the situation and become an ideal student—and submit it alongside your application.
  5. Make an appointment with the Admissions Advisor to discuss any issues in person. Be sincere, polite, and responsible.
  6. Volunteer wherever you can to get additional health care experience: Red Cross, hospitals, retirement homes, volunteer first response teams, Habitat for Humanity, etc. Do a great job. Then ask them to write you a recommendation letter.
  7. Write your personal statement of purpose and include it with your application. Talk about why you want to become a nurse, and what it would mean to you to achieve that goal. Not all programs do interviews. A personal statement might be your best chance to show them how special you are.
  8. Keep reading this article. Your degree may be closer than you think.

Credit by exam: the efficient, affordable alternative

Whether you're an LPN, RN, or non-nursing degree candidate, the quickest—and cheapest—way to get your BSN degree is to consider credit by exam: a system that helps you test out of college courses while earning the same credits. 

At Achieve Test Prep, we'll research your school options, determine which already-completed classes can earn you credit, and pinpoint the classes you still need. Then we'll identify which of those classes qualify for credit-by-exam. After a few weeks in one of our test prep courses, you take one exam for each credit-by-exam class. Pass that exam, and you receive the same credit you would have earned taking a traditional semester-long class—only you've done it in a fraction of the time and at a far lesser expense. Our prep class schedules are flexible, and you can attend online through our live virtual classes, where you get the same qualified instruction, but with the convenience of being in your own home.  

Above all, no matter what strategy you choose to get into an accelerated degree program, be patient and don't give up. The world needs more nurses—especially amazing nurses like the one you're going to be.

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Find out how to use innovative learning solutions to finish your degree requirements faster. Why not take the next step and see if you’re a good candidate for our credit by exam program.

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