Struggling with Anatomy and Physiology


  • Has 1 years experience.

Hi all,

I am almost done with my nursing pre-reqs, but I'm getting frustrated and questioning my career path because of my A&P grades. I started the year off with a 3.91 pre-req GPA but I earned a C+ in physiology which dropped it down to a 3.66. I am taking anatomy this semester and just found out my grade on the first exam was a 77. I've never considered myself to be a huge science person; I've always seen it as something that I have to do. I've gotten A's in all my other science pre-reqs so I don't know why I am struggling so much with A&P. Overall, this has been the science course that I'd most looked forward to, yet I'm doing so poorly. I just applied to nursing school with a 3.66 GPA because of physiology and now my chances of getting in are really slim. Please share your experiences with A&P, if you retook classes, tips for passing, etc. Anything would help and encourage me! Thanks.


359 Posts

Look at your graded tests (or talk to your professor if you don't get the tests back) to see what areas you missed questions on. Is there a certain type of question that you have a hard time with? Are you better with the general concepts but get questions on details wrong? Or vice versa? What types of things did you find hard with physiology? If you can identify your weak areas, you can spend more time on them.

You also need to make sure you are studying in a way that is best for you. If you are a visual learner, you can set up electronic or paper flash cards with pictures on them to help you learn bones, bone features, WBCs, etc. I used Quizlet for this and had pictures of the bones with an arrow to certain markings or bones as the "terms." From there, I was able to go over the cards until I could easily remember what was where. You might be better at hearing the information and can look up some of the many, many videos describing the anatomy of pretty much anything. You may also need to draw out the anatomy to better remember it or make concept maps with pictures or write out the information. Maybe you just need time with the the displays and the physical bones/bone replicas.

You can take some time to get familiar with scientific suffixes, prefixes, and general terms (foramen, tuberosity, etc), which can help hint at what something might be. That can help when you run into a word on a test that you haven't encountered or didn't really pay attention to.

Also, make sure you are connecting and rationalizing this information, not just trying to memorize it. Know WHY we have certain anatomy. How does the structure inform the function (or the function, the structure)? For instance, the wall of the left side of the heart is much bigger because the muscular layer is larger. This is a result of its function--the left side has to pump blood throughout the body and thus must be stronger than the right side, which only has to pump blood to the lungs and back. If you can connect the two ideas, you are going to learn it better.

Khan Academy, Crash Course, and other videos might help as some extra studying.

Finally, see if you have a science tutoring center on your college. You might be able to find a free tutor or at least get some help by students.

A&P is going to be the foundation of all your nursing science classes, so you want to get a good grasp of it.

While taking my pre reqs, I never solely relied on the professor and my textbook. Big kudos for those who can read a textbook and write notes and e successful in a course, I can not do it. I would get a topic and go online. For anatomy, I would google the topic and look for worksheets to do, pictures, games, and I did lots of repetition. For physiology, I watch a lot of videos from khan academy and crash course over and over until I understood the concept. After, I finally understood a concept I would go online and search for exams. Also, creating quizlets helped tremendously. I would take my textbook and my notes from class and create quizlet exams with all information it. At times I would have 100 questions for one section. I would do the test over and over until I knew the information like the back of my hand. Tip: be careful on doing others quilts, sometimes their information is wrong.