How is nursing school different than regular classes like math, history, english etc?


Hello, I have a few questions about nursing.

How different is nursing school than when taking just your regular pre-reqs like math, history, english etc...?

I know you have clinicals as well, but what is it like in the classrooms and when you're at clinicals?

What do or did you enjoy? What's something that you just had to deal with and face the facts?

I am so excited that I decided to go this route and ready to learn!

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.


Specializes in ICU. Has 13 years experience.

Well, the one thing that sticks out in my mind that is different with nursing school is the way the tests are written and presented.

In nursing school they try and get you ready to take the NCLEX. On this multiple choice test, there are four answers, and on almost each one of them, atleast three of them might be correct.

In nursing school they teach you how to critically think, how to choose the best answer from your critical thinking skill set and how to broaden your education to include the caring, teaching and technical aspects of nursing.

That is the best way that I can explain it.

Also, you will spend the next two years of your life with your nursing class. You will get very close to some of them and loath a few along the way. lol


52 Posts

I found that nursing classes taught me to think differently. In my classes before nursing school I was able to memorize information quickly, then recall it quickly for a test and forget about it. In nursing classes, I found this technique ineffective. I had to really learn the information and continue to build on it as time went on. The test questions often have 4 correct multiple choice answers, and you have to use your critical thinking skills to pick the "best" answer or first priority, etc.

It is hard to explain, but once you get to your nursing classes you will start to understand what I'm trying to say!


121 Posts

It's more the application of the information and understanding that the knowledge you gain goes hand in hand with many other facts to arrive at an action that should be taken. It is the way we are questioned, in scenarios, that makes this so different. What might seem logical, can be a wrong answer due to different factors in the scenario. It is learning to think and reason instead of simply recall information. What might be a correct answer for one client, could be a deadly choice for another. It is learing to be responsible for learning much more than what is presented to you. It is about developing a curiosity that will drive your acquisition of knowledge to enhance the care you give. It is about learning to weave random facts into a cohesive knowledge base that you can draw upon in multiple situations.

As for what clinicals are like, they are fun, and frightening all at once. They can be empowering on a good day and can demolish your self esteem on others. The key is to always remember to learn something from each experience. The best learning experiences are usually when you have royally messed up. Learning to be confident in your interactions with patients is one of the first "skills" you will learn in clinicals.

What I have had to just learn to deal with is that different instructors behave, and grade, and judge differently. Understand that sometimes you must bend and change to please the different instructors, but remember to take from each one the best they have to offer and don't sweat the rest. Dealing with difficult instructors can be a great learning experience as well. It can be a great lesson in adaptation and accomodation.

So far, I have enjoyed everything about nursing school. It gets hard and frustrating and tiresome at times...but I just love it...all of it.

Good luck in school.


310 Posts


You can't fake it.

You can't just regurgitate information.

You can't forget what was on the last test.

It is nothing like any classes you've had before. It is intense and fast paced. I had 5 times as many chapters to read weekly in NS than I did for other courses.

RN BSN 2009

1,289 Posts

Just what the others said AND

Taking 3 nursing credits is like taking 6 credits of gen ed classes. They really do cram a lot of information into the semester. Take that into consideration when taking other classes with nursing classes.

chuckz, BSN, RN

165 Posts

Specializes in CVICU/ER. Has 13 years experience.

The critical thinking is right on. It's about applying knowledge, not just acquiring it. The test questions are usually based on scenarios and like the others have said, you have to pick the best out of 4 possible right answers. It's tough, but doable.

Clinicals are great because it is where you apply the knowledge that you learned. The best advise I can give to you is delve in totally. Immerse yourself into everything. Get your hands dirty often and attack school and clinicals.

Good luck to you

Specializes in Cardiac Tele, MICU RN.

Its prepares you to learn how to "critically think". Meaning, most test are multiple choice and 3 out of four of those answers could the correct choice. But the best choice is based on the nursing process and how you analyzed the question critically. For example, What would you do if you seen a person collapse on the floor?

A. Start CPR

B. Feel for a pulse

C. Check for bilateral breath sounds

D. Ask the person if they are alright and wait for a response.

Now this is tricky for a brand new student who just fininshed taking their pre-requistes for the nursing program and accomplished every class with A's and B's. You think you can handle anything because you have a 3.8. PUMP YOUR BRAKES! Because the first test will hit you hard in the face. I just made this question up and even I, an RN with 2 years experience, read into this question somewhat.

First, I would go over to the person and see if they are responsive, answer D. If they are not, then I check for breathing, answer C. Then if no breath sounds, feel for a pulse, answer B. Then last but not least, BEGIN CPR!

Now I know what some people may be thinking, why wouldn't you begin CPR right away? Well what if this person tripped on something and fell and broke a leg or arm, would you start CPR then? You need to analyze the situation and put yourself in a real life situation. That's what is so different about nursing theory courses. Its how would you respond to certain situations, in a way that is beneficial to the patient.

I hope this may help, and by the way, this information is just what I experienced in nursing school, many may have other opinions about my example or different answers. Go ahead and feel free to explain your rationales because all nurses are different and think differently. Always remember your ABC's-airway,breathing,and circulation.


440 Posts

NS is different because of the tests. The tests are different than any other tests you have taken in your life. Its about picking the best answer, the answer that takes priority, multiple multiple.

locolorenzo22, BSN, RN

1 Article; 2,396 Posts

Specializes in Ortho, Neuro, Detox, Tele.

Well, versus just being really good at one subject, you have to be kinda good at a lot of different things, math, recall, customer service, caring, etc.

Classroom wise, you take your notes, try to get the basics and do what you need to to get by. in clinicals, you do what you're told, don't take a step without checking with someone, and give care no matter what you think.

I enjoyed learning about people and trying to make them better. I just had to learn to deal with instructors, and CNAs who thought I was bad for trying to better myself.

Always help others, and never forget why you want to get into the field.


25 Posts

WOW! Sounds tough but exciting all at the same time.

I have a friend who was looking to become a CNA, but I told her why not nursing?, her answer was "too long of schooling." I can understand her point of view. So is it the real deal that "nurses eat their young?" AHHH! Oh well, I guess we can learn a lot from them as well.

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