Not sure how to prepare for nursing school? The path to becoming a registered nurse has its challenges, but understanding what you should know before nursing school starts can help you start the journey with confidence. You will have to complete some academic requirements before applying, so learn what classes to take before nursing school and more with this overview.
What do I need to learn before nursing school starts?
Before jumping into your core nursing program, you’ll need to complete two major educational milestones: finishing your nursing prerequisites and passing the TEAS exam.
Nursing prerequisites (also known as general education classes) are foundational courses that prepare you for the more challenging core nursing subjects ahead. You need to study these prerequisite topics before nursing school starts in order to jump into more advanced healthcare coursework.
Common classes to take before nursing school include:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- College Composition
- College Math
- American Government
- History of the United States
- And more
Nursing prerequisites can be completed in a variety of ways, including online. In fact, a lesser-known system called credit by exam allows you to test out of prerequisites by passing a proficiency exam. Rather than taking an entire semester-long class, you can earn the same college credits by passing one CLEP test. This system speeds up the prerequisite process, enabling you to skip up to one year in the classroom.
The nursing school entrance exam is called the Test of Essential Academic Skills or “TEAS”. The TEAS is a standardized test with multiple-choice questions designed to gauge your nursing school readiness.
This exam covers math, science, reading, and English language questions. The information for these topics is generally covered in nursing prerequisite courses, and will range in everything from human anatomy to basic grammar.
In general, nursing applicants must receive a minimum passing TEAS score of 55% to be considered for admission. The higher your score, the more desirable you will be to your school of choice. An exemplary TEAS score is 92% or higher, whereas the proficient range is between 59-79%. Every nursing program has different score requirements; be sure to check your school’s threshold so you can prepare accordingly.
Taking a TEAS exam prep course is a smart way to get the score you want on your first attempt. Test prep courses walk you through example questions and lessons so you can brush up your skills and feel confident knowing what to expect.
How to prepare for nursing school
Outside of finishing your academic requirements, one of the most important ways to prepare for nursing school is understanding how your day-to-day life will shift moving forward. Nursing school is a challenging combination of coursework and clinicals that give you the knowledge and skills to take care of others.
Learning something new can be a trying process, especially when you’re learning complicated medical procedures and best practices. You’re likely to experience growing pains while in nursing school; in fact, most nursing students report having a significant adjustment period, particularly during their first year of nursing school.
Here are some things to know before nursing school:
- Your schedule will be jam packed: Between class, clinicals, and your work and home life, you will have a lot on your plate. This juggling act will prepare you for the fast-paced work environment of healthcare.
- Your coursework will be hard: Nursing school is hard because being a nurse is hard. Caring for others requires a demanding level of knowledge and compassion that will be developed during school.
- Your community will grow: Being in the trenches with your peers creates powerful bonds that will help you all get through the experience together. Having friends to lean on also makes school more enjoyable.
With these things in mind, here are some additional tips to prepare you for nursing school:
- Prioritize work/life balance: Keeping your physical and mental well being high on your list will allow you to stay strong when things get challenging.
- Create a study routine: Devote regular chunks of time to your studies so you don’t fall behind. If possible, create a designated study space in your home to help you focus.
- Ask for help: No one goes through school without needing support, so seek help or tutoring if ever you feel unsure of the material.
How do I start getting nursing experience before nursing school?
Getting nursing experience before nursing school can help bolster your application. Programs look for students who not only have the academic credentials necessary to succeed but also the relevant life experience.
While you can’t do any official nursing until you have your degree, there are ways to get some introductory experience before nursing school begins.
- Job shadowing or internship: Working alongside seasoned nursing illustrates exactly what’s required of the job and what you can expect once you’re in the lead.
- Get certified in first aid and/or CPR: Earning a medical certification is a good way to build practical nursing skills.
- Volunteer: Reach out to your local hospital or Red Cross chapter to see what kind of volunteer opportunities are available.
Finish your classes for nursing school with Achieve
Knowing what to study before nursing school is half the battle! Achieve Test Prep offers online nursing prerequisites so you can earn college credits from home. We offer day, night, and weekend courses to fit into your busy schedule; plus, courses meet only once a week We also offer college planning, on-demand tutoring, and TEAS test prep to help you at every stage of your nursing education. Connect with our Advisor team to get started!