Do Grades Matter in Nursing School?

by Cathy Parkes February 28, 2020 Updated: August 09, 2023 1 min read

C's Get Degrees...but there are some other things that DO matter

A great question came up in our Instagram community: Do grades really matter for nursing school?

The perception to many is really split:

Some believe that grades are of the UTMOST importance. They are willing to fight for every last point, even to the their own detriment.

Others believe that as long as you are passing, grades are virtually meaningless.

Here at Level Up RN, we tend to lean toward the latter. As long as you are passing and learning the concepts that you will need to be a safe and effective nurse, then A's should not be your final goal!

That being said, you absolutely should be doing what you need to get a leg up when it comes to putting yourself in a great position for getting your first nursing position.

In this video, Cathy covers this topic, and what she thinks will give you the best chance to succeed.

Full Transcript

We've received a message from a nursing student recently asking about the importance of grades in nursing school. So I wanted to read you her question and tell you my response because I feel like other nursing students may find value in my answer as well.

So her message is, "Hi Cathy. I was hoping to ask your advice about grades if you have time. I'm currently in my first semester of nursing school. My instructors always tell us that C's get degrees and our grades won't mean that much when we become a nurse. As long as we get a passing grade, of course. Do you think your GPA in nursing school will play a role in getting a job as a new grad? I stress out a lot about getting straight A's. Today, I got an 85% on one of my finals, and my 92% dropped to an 89%. Even though that is a good grade I feel like a failure. I keep trying to tell myself that stressing about this is unnecessary but I'm having a hard time convincing myself."

Okay. Well, I hear you. I'm kind of a perfectionist myself and getting A's has always been important to me. So I understand the stress of wanting to get those A's. But the bottom line is is that your grades in nursing school will. in large part, not impact your ability to get a job as a new grad RN.

So the main thing you can do to help your chances of getting a new grad RN position after nursing school is to get your foot in the door at a hospital system while you're in nursing school.

So I worked as a transporter. A lot of nursing students work as CNAs or in other capacities such as working in the kitchen. Anything that makes you an internal candidate will help you get a new grad position after nursing school.

I don't think grades were a factor. They definitely weren't for me and I don't think for any of my classmates. I don't think hospital systems care about the grades at all. If you have a license number and you interview well and particularly if you're an internal candidate you will be in a good position to get one of those new grad RN positions. So definitely keep that in mind.

So while you don't need to get A's in nursing school you do need to really try to understand and master the material as much as possible so that you can do well on your NCLEX and be a safe and effective nurse. So that's probably the more important thing to focus on.

The other thing I'll say is that I did have some classmates who were really focused on those A's. And so when we got back tests if there were certain questions which they didn't agree on the answers, like they feel like the questions were unfair, they would really complain a lot about those questions to the professors and really raised a fuss in some situations.

So I caution you against doing that just because you can really burn some bridges. A lot of these nursing professors are also active nurses at the hospitals or in the community. And if you really go after that those two points you missed on your test and just make a big fuss about it and burn those bridges, it can really come back to haunt you later on in the community somewhere.

So I urge you to you know pick your battles wisely right. If there's two points between you failing a class and passing then maybe that's a battle worth fighting. But if it's between getting an A and a B or just like a higher A or a lower A then...just let it go.

I definitely had my share of tests where there was a few questions where I'm like, "Hmm, I don't really agree with that or I don't think it's really worded well," but I just pretty much let it go because it wasn't going to make a meaningful difference in my grade and by confronting the professor and arguing with the professor you're kind of potentially burning a bridge there.

So again, don't worry about it. It's not going to make a difference when it comes to getting a new grad R.N. position after nursing school.

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