10 Tips for a Successful Nursing School Application

Tyson Schritter / Abound: Nursing »

If you dream of being a nurse one day, a successful nursing school application is a must. Applying to nursing school can be a highly competitive and rigorous process. With numerous applicants vying for limited spots, it’s crucial to make your application stand out from the crowd. Admissions committees are looking for passionate and dedicated individuals who possess the necessary skills and qualities to excel in the nursing profession. 

How much time do I need to prepare my nursing school application? 

The amount of time needed to prepare a nursing school application can vary depending on individual circumstances and preferences. However, it is generally recommended to start the preparation process at least several months in advance to ensure you have enough time to gather all the necessary documents and complete the required steps. Generally, you’ll need to complete the following steps for a nursing application: 


Spend some time researching nursing schools that you are interested in attending. Consider factors such as program requirements, admission criteria, tuition fees, location, and reputation. This step can be done over several weeks or months, depending on how much time you have available.

Identify Prerequisites:

These may include specific courses or exams that you need to complete before applying. If you have any outstanding prerequisites, make a plan to fulfill them. This step can take several weeks to several months, depending on the requirements and your current schedule.

Take Standardized Tests:

Check if the nursing programs you are applying to require any standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT. If necessary, register for the tests and allocate time for test preparation. The length of time needed for test preparation can vary depending on your familiarity with the content and your study habits.

Get Letters of Recommendation:

Reach out to potential recommenders early on, such as professors, employers, or healthcare professionals, who can vouch for your abilities and character. Give them ample time to write the letters, and be sure to provide any necessary information they might need.

Write a Personal Statement/Essay:

Most nursing programs require a personal statement or essay. Allow yourself sufficient time to brainstorm ideas, write multiple drafts, and edit your work. Start early to ensure that you have enough time for revisions and feedback from others.

To help you increase your chances of success, here are 10 tips to create a standout nursing school application:

1. Research and Choose the Right Programs

Begin by thoroughly researching different nursing programs to find the ones that align with your goals and aspirations. Look into such factors as the curriculum, faculty expertise, clinical opportunities, and program reputation. By selecting programs that truly resonate with you, you can demonstrate your genuine interest and commitment in your application.

2. Highlight Relevant Experience

Nursing schools value practical experience, so it’s essential to showcase any relevant healthcare or volunteering experience you have. This could include working as a nursing assistant, shadowing a nurse, or participating in healthcare-related community service. Emphasize the skills you gained from these experiences, such as communication, teamwork, and empathy, as they are essential qualities in a successful nurse.

3. Craft a Compelling Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an opportunity to express your motivations, experiences, and future goals. Use this space to convey your passion for nursing and your understanding of the profession. Reflect on personal experiences that have shaped your desire to become a nurse, and explain how you envision making a difference in patients’ lives. Be authentic, compelling, and concise in your writing, ensuring that your statement reflects your unique voice.

4. Obtain Strong Letters of Recommendation

Seek out individuals who can provide insightful and positive letters of recommendation. Choose professors, employers, or supervisors who have seen you excel academically or professionally and can speak to your character, work ethic, and potential as a nurse. It’s important to establish relationships with these individuals early on, so they can provide personalized and compelling recommendations.

5. Ace the Admissions Interview

If your application progresses to the interview stage, be prepared to shine. Research common interview questions and practice your responses. Be confident, articulate, and show genuine enthusiasm for the program. Demonstrate your knowledge of current healthcare issues and nursing trends. It’s also crucial to be professional, attentive, and respectful throughout the interview process.

6. Showcase Your Academic Preparedness

Nursing schools place significant emphasis on academic performance. Ensure that your grades, especially in prerequisite courses, meet or exceed the program’s requirements. If your grades are not as strong as you would like, consider retaking courses to improve your GPA. Additionally, consider taking additional science or healthcare-related courses to demonstrate your commitment to academic excellence.

7. Stay Organized and Meet Deadlines

Create a calendar or checklist to keep track of application requirements and deadlines for each nursing school you’re applying to. Missing deadlines or failing to submit necessary documents can hinder your chances of acceptance. Stay organized, and give yourself ample time to gather transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other application materials.

8. Demonstrate Leadership and Extracurricular Involvement

Nursing programs value applicants who exhibit leadership potential and a commitment to service. Participate in relevant extracurricular activities, such as student organizations, volunteer work, or leadership roles within your community. These experiences can highlight your ability to work in diverse teams, take initiative, and make a positive impact.

9. Prepare for the TEAS Exam

Many nursing schools require applicants to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS). TEAS is a standardized exam that nursing programs use to assess applicants and their readiness for nursing school. The TEAS exam covers four main content areas: reading, math, science, and English and language usage. Familiarize yourself with the exam format and content, and allocate sufficient time to study and practice. There are numerous study resources available, including online practice tests and study guides. By performing well on the TEAS, you can demonstrate your academic readiness for nursing school.

10. Seek Guidance and Support

Don’t hesitate to reach out to nursing school advisors, mentors, or current nursing students for guidance and support throughout the application process. They can provide valuable insight, answer your questions, and offer tips specific to the nursing programs you are interested in. Their expertise can also help you navigate the application process more effectively.


By implementing these tips, you can create a standout nursing school application that showcases your passion, dedication, and readiness for the nursing profession. Applying to nursing school can be a competitive and demanding process, but with careful preparation and strategic planning, you can stand out from the crowd. 

Start early, conduct thorough research, and highlight your relevant experiences to make your application shine. Craft a compelling personal statement, secure strong letters of recommendation, and prepare for interviews to showcase your passion for nursing and patient care. Lastly, prioritize your academic preparedness and strive for excellence in your coursework.