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Do Nursing School Grades Matter?

I’m sure there are many people seeing this question and they will firmly tell you that the grades you get in nursing school don’t matter. I beg to differ. Do nursing school grades matter? Of course they do! But, they aren’t going to matter the same way to each person. How your nursing school grades matter will vary depending on your experience, career goals, and what you feel about grades in general. It’s going to be up to you to determine where you see yourself heading in the future and what grades you need to get you there.


When it comes to nursing grades, at the end of the day, passing is what matters most.  Passing tells everyone–you, your faculty, your university, and even potential employers–that you have met the learning objectives for that class or degree program. Passing is important because without a passing grade, you might have to repeat a course or even get dropped from your nursing program. When you go to apply to take the NCLEX-RN, they do not ask if you got an A.  All they will want to know is if you satisfied the requirements for nursing education from your degree program. In this case, passing is all that is needed.  When many people say that grades don’t matter, they often mean grades don’t matter as long as you are passing.

nursing school grades matter

When Nursing School Grades Matter

Maybe you already knew passing was important and what you meant to ask was, do letter grades matter in nursing school? If that is what you meant, there isn’t an easy answer but there are times when having a higher grade point average will be important.  If you intend to continue on to graduate school, universities do look at your transcripts to see if you meet the admission criteria.  Sometimes that criteria includes a minimum GPA. Also, if you want to pursue a career in nursing education, it is common for employers to review your transcripts to get a better idea of your background.

Meeting Your Own Expectations

Another reason that nursing school grades matter is that for many students it is a measure of their own success.  It makes them feel accomplished. Some students take pride in achieving high grades in their classes.  If that is a motivator for you, then of course your grades will matter!

Keeping it in Perspective

The grades you achieve in nursing school do matter.  They matter for many reasons.  For some, it is because of higher education aspirations.  For others, it will be because of the nursing career field they choose to pursue. And still for others, it is because grades are a motivating factor and provide a sense of accomplishment. The trick is to find the balance between what you want out of your nursing school experience and how you will balance your life around that goal.  Grades may not tell you how well you learn.  I’ve taken classes and gotten hard-won C’s and felt like I really knew the material. I’ve also taken classes where I’ve gotten the easy A and felt like I learned nothing. It’s up to you to decide how much energy you are willing to use in getting the grades that meet your goals.

No matter what, no matter the reason you are striving for your grades, it is also important to remember that grades are just one aspect of the learning process.  They don’t define who you are as a person.  Nursing school is hard and when it feels like you are in survival mode, worrying about grades just adds to the pressure. They key is getting the grades you need while still caring for yourself and finding the balance you need in your life. Happy Studying!

About Stephanie

Stephanie is a contributor to the NCLEX-RN Blog at Magoosh. She has been a registered nurse for 13 years. She earned her AAS in Nursing from community college before enrolling as an online student at Grand Canyon University, where she completed both her BSN and MSN with an emphasis in Nursing Education. Student success is her top priority and she is committed to working with her students to see them thrive. When she isn’t teaching the nurses of tomorrow, Stephanie enjoys traveling with her family to warm, sunny places.

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