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The Hardest Nursing School Classes

Whether you are taking up your BSN or ADN, you will run into many challenging requirements. This includes clinical rotations, laboratory trials, and a number of difficult classes. To help you prepare for the challenges ahead, we will go over the hardest prerequisite courses and tips on how to tackle them.

Part 1

What is a prerequisite course?

Put simply, prerequisite courses lay the foundation for your advanced lessons. This does not mean that they are easy though, as a number of these classes can be a struggle for the unprepared. All students are required to take at least two of the classes listed below. 


  • Pharmacology

    • The study of medication includes memorizing classifications, purpose, potential side effects, differentiating between commercial and generic names and more. With critical thinking and knowledge, nurses are trained to determine when to use medication, and how the patient would physically react to it. 

  • Organic Chemistry

    • Organic chem goes over the natural chemical processes that take place in organic beings (specifically human beings). In particular, students can expect to learn about the effect of certain nutrients and medications on the human body. Commonly includes lab work. 

  • Pathophysiology

    • This class goes over anatomical systems, their functions and how certain ailments can hinder their functions. Students will also learn how these illnesses respond to their medication, and how that reaction can be influenced by pre-existing conditions. 

  • Evidence-based practice

    • Classes train students to analyze and interpret changes in interdisciplinary healthcare research, with the goal of setting best practices. With the healthcare world rapidly evolving, nurses must be trained to analyze these shifts and how they can translate to effective treatments. Between the numerous reading and writing requirements, this class is seen by some as especially demanding. 

  • Anatomy and Physiology (1-2)

    • Covers anatomy and physiology on an advanced level. Examines the various systems of the human body, such as muscular, cardiovascular, nervous and more. Commonly includes lab work, such as dissection. 

  • Medical Surgical 1 (Adult Health 1)

    • Med Surg 1 revolves around common adult health problems and disorders. Lessons are commonly a synthesis and application of concepts from other classes, such as anatomy and physiology. This makes this class uniquely challenging.

Study Strategies


Though the workload may initially seem daunting, it is completely manageable with the right approach and work ethic. To help you get started, here are some study tips that will surely make life easier for you. 

Part 2

Read ahead

Professors will give you a syllabus that lists all the required material ahead of time. If you want to ace your classes, you have to take advantage of this. Go through chapters in advance and take notes while you are at it. Any clarifications or questions can be raised once you get to that topic in class.

Part 3

Flashcards, flashcards, flashcards

Memorizing nursing terminology can be an exhausting process. Writing down words and their meanings in flashcards is an effective way to internalize medicines, bodily functions, diseases, and more. It even makes studying in groups more fun, since you can use your flashcards together with your classmates.


Note that since many of these words are rooted in Latin, words with similar meanings tend to have shared prefixes and suffixes. This makes grouping these flashcards significantly easier.

Part 4

Go deeper than memorization

Rote memorization alone only gets you so far. When you take in a new term, be it a disease or an anatomical process, you want to understand its meaning and applications in certain contexts. For example, certain medications are not compatible with some pre-existing conditions, and you want to understand how and why this is the case. This capacity to think critically is key to the success of any nurse.

Part 5

Time management is key

Trying to absorb all the information at once is basically impossible. Human minds are not made to take in that amount of knowledge in a short period of time. Instead, you want to break down your syllabus into manageable segments you can go through daily, for 2-3 hours a day. Give the information time to sink in, before you move on to the next chunk of lessons.


Be sure to set aside some time for yourself, too. It is important to work hard, but burning the candle on both ends will only lead to a premature flameout.

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