How to Finish Nursing Prerequisites Fast

Posted on February 29, 2024

Posted on February 29, 2024

Nursing school involves a lot of advanced coursework. But before you can dive into the medical and health-related subjects, you have to spend time completing your nursing prerequisites. 

It’s natural to be eager to finish your prerequisites and get into your nursing-specific courses. But how long do prerequisites last for nursing? Where can I take prerequisite courses for nursing? Find the answers to these questions and more, including how you can fast-track your nursing prerequisites. 

What Are Nursing Prerequisites? 

A prerequisite is a course or other requirement that you have to take before you can enroll in specific courses or programs. For registered nurse (RN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), there are specific pre-nursing prerequisites that focus on building a foundation for more advanced nursing courses. You typically need a grade of C or better for the course to count toward your degree. 

While schools and programs differ in the prerequisites they require, they’re usually foundational science-based courses. The nursing prerequisites list may include: 

These courses are in addition to general education courses in core subject areas that are required for any degree, including English, history, psychology, literature, or sociology. These courses, including nursing-specific prerequisites, typically take place in the first two years of the degree program. 

How to Finish Your Nursing Prerequisites Fast 

If you’re eager to get into the advanced nursing courses – and one step closer to your career – here are some tips to finish your nursing prerequisites quickly. 

Work with Your Advisor for an Action Plan 

Your advisor is a vital resource in planning your college path. They know what courses you need to take, and in what order, to ensure that you’re maximizing your time and tuition. Your advisor can also give you a list of your prerequisites and a recommended roadmap to ensure you’re on track and understand your plan. 

Another advantage of working with your advisor is that they can help you optimize your prerequisites and gen eds to “double up” on credits and fulfill your degree requirements without taking unnecessary courses. For example, a nursing prerequisite like biology may count toward your science gen ed requirement or a free elective. 

Look into Accelerated Courses Online 

Accelerated courses or programs have shorter classes to help you reach your goals faster. Depending on the school, accelerated learning may have shorter semesters or terms, different learning formats, and unique schedules. For example, you may be able to take accelerated courses during the winter or summer terms outside of your regular full-time courses while the content and learning outcomes are the same. 

While accelerated courses can help you finish faster, keep in mind that some nursing prerequisites can be challenging at a regular pace. Adding the rigors of an accelerated course can make them overwhelming. Make sure you’re not sacrificing your learning and academic record in pursuit of a faster degree, because your program builds upon the information you’ll learn in your nursing prerequisites. 

Transfer Existing Credits 

If you’re returning to school after a break or switching careers with a non-nursing degree, you may have some transferable credits that count toward your nursing prerequisites. Even if you only have one or two courses, that’s a few courses you won’t have to retake – saving you time and money. 

If you’re not set on a specific nursing program, it’s worth speaking to admissions counselors at a few preferred schools to see what credits are eligible for transfer before making a final decision. 

Test Out of Courses 

Testing out of courses may be an option for some of your nursing prerequisites. Working CNAs and LPNs can often test out of certain prerequisites based on their on-the-job knowledge, allowing them to complete courses at a much faster pace. The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers tests in six subject areas to earn college credits without the course, including some nursing prerequisites. 

Credits don’t expire, but some schools have limits on how recent certain prerequisites must be. For example, a health and nutrition class from 20 years ago may have outdated information, so the school may not accept the credits. However, if you remember the material, you may be able to test out of the class and earn credit. 

Become a Full-Time Student 

Often, working adults take classes part time to balance their academics and responsibilities to work or family. While this is helpful for adult learners, it does extend the time it takes to finish your degree. 

If your schedule allows, consider going full-time to take more courses each semester. You can save a lot of time and finish your prerequisites faster, but keep in mind that full-time status may be more difficult. If that seems too demanding, even taking an extra course here or there can make a difference in your degree timeline.   

Use Online Course Providers 

Online schools for nursing prerequisites offer online courses for credits that can transfer, often at a lower cost. As part of the Nursing Pathways program, Sophia offers flexible, self-paced gen ed courses – including nursing prerequisites – in a convenient and cost-effective subscription format. 

Taking Sophia courses on your school breaks or in addition to your regular schedule can help you earn transferable credits at your school for the courses you need to take at a much faster pace. ophia partners directly with colleges and universities that have agreed to accept transfer courses for credits, so that courses will seamlessly transfer into your program at these schools. But remember, no matter where you choose to take gen ed courses, you should speak with your advisor to ensure the courses will transfer and you’re not wasting your time, money, and efforts on a class that won’t count. 

How Long Do Nursing Prerequisites Take? 

The time to finish nursing prerequisites can vary. On a traditional college path and full-time schedule, your nursing prerequisites and gen ed courses take about two years. With accelerated programs or courses, you may be able to trim six months or a year off that time. 

If you’re part time, it can extend the time depending on how many courses you can manage. However, if you need to take courses part time because of other responsibilities, it may be best to keep your workload manageable instead of overloading yourself. 

Preparing for Nursing Prerequisites 

Nursing school can be daunting in general, but more so if you are going back to school as an adult and managing other responsibilities along with schoolwork. Here are some tips for success with your nursing prerequisites: 

  • Find your nursing school: With online and hybrid learning platforms, there are more options for nursing school than there once was. Consider what programs appeal to you, what transfer credits are available, whether you prefer online or in-person instruction, and more, so you can find the perfect school for you. 
  • Check transfer credits and CLEP options: If you can test out of courses or transfer your credits, you’ll be ahead in your program. Not all schools accept the same courses, however, so discuss your options with your advisor to develop a plan. 
  • Schedule study time: Whether you’re a working adult or taking the full credit load, it’s crucial to schedule time to study and complete your assignments. Cramming or rushing your work may help you pass the tests and quizzes, but you’re not likely to retain the material. 
  • Understand your learning style: Everyone learns differently. Some people do well with mnemonic devices and flashcards while others may absorb information by reading or listening to a lecture. Understanding how you learn best is a vital tool for your academic success, so take the VARK Questionnaire to confirm your learning style. 

Get Started on your Nursing Prerequisites Today with Sophia's Nursing Pathway

Nursing is an in-demand field that’s only growing. Sophia's Nursing Pathway offers a flexible 13-course science pathway to help students get a jump on their nursing education with self-paced health and science courses designed to transfer for credit for RN programs. Check out our Nursing Pathway and start your free trial!

Category: Higher Education

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