Sample Prerequisites for Nursing School

Students often overlook the general prerequisites for nursing school and have their future RN career delayed due to a missing course or lost application paper.

Each college, university, and degree program will have different requirements and it is important that you check your schools catalog or speak with a counselor for the exact requirements before entering nursing school.

Also, its important to keep in mind that CNA, LPN, and RN tracks will have different requirements.

That said, well provide sample pre reqs for nursing that offer associates degrees.

Sample prerequisite courses for an associates degree in nursing

If you are considering a community college to complete an RN program, you will generally have a selection of general education courses that will need to be completed before even applying to the program.

Nursing prerequisites usually involve the following (and will depend on your school):

  • General biology and lab
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Statistics
  • English writing and composition courses
  • Psychology
  • Speech

The pre-requisites generally take two to three semesters to complete, and they you have four semesters of nursing school.

While you are taking human anatomy, physiology, and microbiology classes, its important to study hard.

Although these courses are pre-requisites, they are always used when on the hospital floor and will be needed every day during clinicals. Youll want to retain the information from those classes.

Also, its a good idea to ease back into school if youve been out for awhile.

You will want to get a high grade in the science prerequisites.

Heres why: Admission to nursing school is competitive. The higher your grade in the core pre-reqs the higher your chances of getting accepted.

TEAS and HESI exams

Nursing schools often require an entrance exam as a prerequisite.

Your university may choose one of these two exams, including the Health Education System Inc. also known as the HESI or the Test of Essential Academic Skills also known as the TEAS.

Both exams provide administrators a way to gauge the academic potential of nursing candidates.

These exams will cover basic sciences, math, anatomy and physiology, grammar, reading comprehension.

It is important to get a good study review book and know the material in it forwards and backwards.

But just memorizing answers wont help: You need to be able to think critically, as well.

If your school requires TEAS testing, I did find a helpful resource for preparing for the test at

Yay! I got accepted

Acceptance into nursing school is hard. Colleges and universities often have a certain GPA requirement and/or ACT or SAT score requirement.

The good news is that if you did poorly on the ACT or SAT in high school, you can take college classes and get a high GPA, which can help your acceptance rate.

A good tip is to take your prerequisites and then take any other general education classes that are required for your nursing program before you actually start the program.

Heres why: Studying nursing requires a large time commitment. You can spend more time studying your core nursing curriculum if youve completed all the other elective courses.

Youll also need a Basic Life Support CPR course for healthcare providers, which is good for two years.

The course is short and can be done in about four hours, but it makes a lot of sense to get the CPR done before the start of your nursing program so you have time to focus on other items.

CNA course as a pre-req?

Some schools require you to be a CNA before you start their RN nursing program.

Honestly, this is a good practice. The CNA course does take about two months to complete but it provides an excellent foundation for you.

Heres why: You get into a clinical site, dealing with patients.

Although the level of work with patients and families is different, becoming a CNA before going through nursing school can provide you with insight about what its like working in a healthcare facility. It provides a great experience for your future career.

Paperwork: Application, essay, letters of recommendation

Many schools require an application, personal essay, and letters of recommendations. They will also require a criminal background check and drug test.

The application is straightforward: Fill it out accurately.

If the application is computer based, make sure you use proper capitalization and grammar.

If you have to write out your application, make sure you make a copy of it BEFORE you write on it.

A duplicate copy is available in case you goof up you dont want to send in one that features white-out or crossed out words.

The essay: If your school requires a personal essay about why you want to be a nurse and your goals, be honest. And use spell-checker and the grammar-checker.

Letters of recommendation: You may need between 1 and 3 references, which is normal. These are not hard to get and they should not be friends or family members.

Your letters of recommendation should come from people youve worked with in a professional capacity such as bosses, instructors, or volunteer coordinators.

Before you write their name down, you will need to ask them if they will serve.


Although every school is different, I do hope this provides a general overview of what you should expect as prerequisites for nursing school. Remember, check with your school or counselor to get the exact specifics.