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First Semester Fundamentals Student -- Impossible to make an A?

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Hi,

I am a first semester nursing student at community college in Los Angeles. I have the highest grade in my fundamentals class which is an 88% so far. We haven't taken the final exam yet but, that is the highest grade average overall after 4 module tests, quizzes, and presentations. I find it strange that our class has such a narrow distribution of grades. All of the 23 students in the class have grades between 70 - 88 %. A 75% to 79% is a C. Below C is failing. A B grade is 80% - 89% and an A is 90% and above. Only two people in the class are below 75%. So, that means 21 people have grades that are between 75% - 88%.

I wanted to talk to other students to see if this is normal or if it seems odd to you. I have been getting straight A's for the past 2 years. I have a 4.0 GPA prior to entering the nursing program. Mind you, I took all of these courses at another community college. I know I am capable of getting an A because I work hard, and am above average intelligence. So I am wondering if the teacher, or method of evaluation is is the problem.

Is it normal to have such a small standard deviation in a nursing program? Could my lower grade be related to the new NCLEX style of testing? I have heard people saying that no one gets A's at this school I am at--so if that is true, I definitely want to transfer. What have you found in your experiences? Are there many students in your classes able to make A's?

Thank you for your input.

Edited by Anastasiak

I can't speak to your school, but most (if not everyone) had straight A's to get in to my program, and I'd say that less than 10% still have A's after a year of school. So, in my program, it's not impossible.....but isn't as easy as it was to get A's in pre-reqs.

OrthoFNP

Specializes in Orthopedics.

I am right there with you!!!! Our grading schedule is 93-100 is an A, 85-92 a B, 84-80 a C. Anything less than 80 is failing. I have a 91 overall!!!! So...I have a B. It is really, really frustrating! We have a final rxam left and they are supposed to award us bonus points for the boat load of extra credit stuff they had us do. We have had 8 tests. Each test counted 11% except the first. They wanted to cut us some slack since it was our first critical thinking type test. It counted 6% and I did better on it than the second, but only by 3 points. This was aggrevating. It does seem as if it is impossible to achieve an A. I also want to go to grad school. I alreday have a bachelor's in a totally unrelated business oriented field and my overall is only a 3.3. I have however made all As in every sciene course I have taken and currently have a 3.9 at the college in which I am currently enrolled. So, an A is crucial! If it makes you feel any better, we have 50 or so people in my class and I only know of about four people who are anywhere near an A. UGH! Let us know what happens. You can pull it up!!!!! I just made a 97 on my last test and studied less for it than I had been! It can be done.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

It is common for there to be a narrow range of scores/grades in nursing school. It happens in schools that don't accept students unless they have demonstrated success in the pre-req's showing that they can pass the nursing courses. The tests, etc. are at a level of difficulty that most people can pass -- yet include a few questions that only a few students can answer correctly -- which squeezes all scores into a fairly narrow range of grades (the "passing, but not perfect" range).

You see more grade variation in programs with more liberal admission policies. In those schools, the early classes in the curriculum "weed out" those students not able to perform at the passing level. Because there is more variety in the level of student performance, you see a wider range of grades. You also see more people scoring above 90% as the tests are designed to identify the lowest performers more than they are geared toward challenging the highest level of performers.

Good question that is rarely grasped by students. Thanks for asking it. Other students may benefit by it as they consider this aspect of grading for the first time.

llg, PhD, RN

In my class of 55 only 4 people have A's. There were 5 of us but the Fund. HESI knocked one down to a B. About 20 people have B's and the rest are C's and F's.

A lot of girls came out of pre reqs with 4.0s and had trouble adjusting to the viewpoint that a 82 on an exam was now a good thing for them. The lady who has the highest grade studies at least 6 hours a day, I mean serious business studying. She is guilt-ridden about not seeing her husband and kids and is always on the verge of a breakdown.

I think this thread is interesting because I have NO IDEA what the grades of my fellow students are. Although we have one instructor (out of seveal) who posts stats after tests telling the average and mean scores for the test overall, I have no clue about our other classes.

Interesting that some of you know where specific classmates "rate" as regards to grades.

I think this thread is interesting because I have NO IDEA what the grades of my fellow students are. Although we have one instructor (out of seveal) who posts stats after tests telling the average and mean scores for the test overall, I have no clue about our other classes.

Interesting that some of you know where specific classmates "rate" as regards to grades.

Grades are posted (anonymously of course) after each exam....it's not hard to have an idea of how the class is doing.

~Mi Vida Loca~RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

I am not sure if people in my class have an A I would assume so just from talk I have heard. No one's grades are shared with anyone in my school so unless people are telling you their grades and are being honest no one would know in my program. They don't even post the class averages.

To get an A in my program you need a 94% to 100% It seems like majority of the class is getting B's and C's from what I have heard and we finished our final. We have 6 exams and then a final that is almost double the # of questions then the other exams. We have one library assignment and 1 cultural group project that is worth 10% of our grade but in order to pass students must have a min cumulative grade of 77% or higher from exams alone.

May2011Grad

Specializes in Psychiatric.

Everyone in my class, about 90 of us, were A students prior to entering NS. It may just be due to the Nursing type questions. Everyone is not able to apply their knowledge to situations on paper.

Our Fund instructor brags that a B is the best we'll probably do in her class. Last semester, she gve ZERO "A" and the semester before that, only one "A".

Hi Anastasia

Did you take the Intro to Pharm (151) course before you started your first semester? I was hoping to take both Human. fund. and Intro to pharm over the winter intersession to free up my time and energy for the fundamentals course. Then Ken Key alerted me that the Intro to Pharm, if taken over the winter session, only has a 50 percent pass rate -WHAT! Is this what your talking about. I've had straight A's on my pre-reqs and plan to do a direct entry MSN after finishing. Also I choose El Camino over the BSN programs because I was hoping it would be a bit more flexible and I'll just say it - easier. I don't want to mess up my GPA. What do you suggest.

Thanks

Hi Quienes,

I am taking Intro to Pharm right now as an 8 week course. Probably the reason some people aren't doing well in it is because the final grade is only divided up into three components: a midterm exam (35%), a research paper (30%), and a cumulative final exam (35%).

I am taking it concurrently with Fundamentals (a 16 week class) and am able to keep up with both classes, another 16 week elective and work about 20 hours per week. I didn't find the midterm to be difficult actually. I got a 90 on it. But, I was the only one who scored a A.

I think your success in the course over the Winter depends on how much else you have going on. If its the only course you are taking and aren't working, I think it is totally doable. But, it depends on you as well. Some people handle 16 week courses better because the workload is more spread out. If you are working, enroll in the class and see how the pace of the class feels. If it feels too quick for you, see if you can cut back on some work hours (if you are able) for the 5 week duration of the course. Or you can see how you do on the midterm, and if it isn't going too well, withdraw before the deadline (wish I believe is after the midterm) and retake it in the Spring.

You might also consider taking it as an 8 week course at ECC - Compton in Spring from April to June. You might prefer to deal with it for only half of the semester instead of the whole time. I understand that we also have the option to enroll in a 3 unit Pharmacology course at another campus instead of taking the 1 unit intro course and then the 2 unit advanced course at ECC. Some 3 unit pharm classes are offered online as well, so you could do the homework and class work around your current clinical/lecture hours.

Let me know what you decide. Goodluck!

Our Fund instructor brags that a B is the best we'll probably do in her class. Last semester, she gve ZERO "A" and the semester before that, only one "A".

If everyone in a class is getting B's and C's, I don't understand why a teacher wouldn't grade on a curve. Do Nursing programs ever do that? It seems fitting when no one in a class has an A.

~Mi Vida Loca~RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

If everyone in a class is getting B's and C's, I don't understand why a teacher wouldn't grade on a curve. Do Nursing programs ever do that? It seems fitting when no one in a class has an A.

Our school doesn't. Non nursing classes might but their are no exceptions in nursing school at my school.

RhodyGirl, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I got an A in Fundamentals....so, yes, it is definitely possible!

Nepenthe Sea

Specializes in PICU/Pedi. Has 5 years experience.

In my school, an A is 90-100, B is 80-89, C is 70-79. Even so, alot of people aren't doing well in my class. I have had a 4.0 until now, including last semester when I took Intro to Nursing and Skills (no clinicals). I study pretty much the same as I have before, but it is getting harder and harder to make those A's. The NCLEX-style exams probably has alot to do with it, but I'm getting used to them. My med-surg professor just writes really hard exams! I always miss questions over things I should know better on just because I over-think the questions. So now I may get an A in med-surg, and will get one in Pharmacology, but it was harder to get those A's. Definitely geting a B in clinicals, though. Oh well!

I have heard of people in my program making A's, though, so I know it's not imposssible...unless you just have one of those professors that won't give them! (don't you hate that?!)

I got an A in Fundamentals....so, yes, it is definitely possible!

Hi RhodyGirl,

I am curious, what school do you go to?

Thanks!