One question that struggling nursing students often ask is this: Do grades really matter in nursing school? That’s a great question. After all, it isn’t uncommon for a nursing student to have a bad semester or two, and if a nursing student barely passes a class, he or she might be wonder if that’s okay.
So, do grades matter? The short answer is yes and no. Here’s the longer answer…
When Grades Don’t Matter
Grades don’t always predict how well you’ll perform as a nurse once you begin working in the real world. Here’s why:
- Some nursing students have a gift for cramming information for tests. They can memorize drug names, signs and symptoms, and so forth, but they don’t really retain that information in the process. Thus, they are capable of performing well on tests, but they may not be grasping the information.
- Some nursing students suffer from test anxiety. They know the information, but they become so anxious that they go blank during the exam.
- Some nursing students know the material, but they overthink the questions, and they talk themselves out of the right answer on a test.
- Some nurses learn better with hands-on patient care, and they find the academic learning process boring and difficult. Once they graduate and begin learning on the job, they quickly excel.
Thus, grades or exam scores do not always indicate how well a student knows the material, and grades can’t always predict how well a nurse will do on the job.
When Grades Matter
On the other hand, you’ll want to try to earn the highest grades you can in nursing school, because grades are important in other ways.
- Some nursing students earn scholarships, grants, or financial aid, which is often based on their academic performance. If their grades slip, they can lose that much-needed financial support.
- Some nursing schools have stringent GPA requirements in place. Some schools will make students retake a course if they earn a C- or below. If your GPA falls below a certain number, you may fail out of the program altogether.
- Graduating with a high GPA is always a great selling point when it comes time to get a job, and if you graduate with honors, it will look great on your resume.
- If you ever decide to return to school for an advanced nursing degree, the graduate school may require that you have a certain GPA in your undergraduate work for admission (such as 3.0 or 3.2).
Grades Do Matter, but They Aren’t Everything
In conclusion, grades aren’t always an accurate predictor of how well a nurse will perform in the real world. Some nurses do better with hands-on learning, and academic work can be exhausting for many nursing students. Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged if you’re a “B” or “C” student. The most important thing is that you are able to graduate through the program and pass NCLEX.
However, I would encourage nursing students to work hard to keep their grades as high as possible, as there are also many benefits to maintaining a high GPA.