Board of Nursing requirements for licensed practical nurses vary from state to state, including GPA requirements. Some states do not specify a GPA that nursing students must have prior to sitting examination; the law simply dictates that the applicant for LPN licensure must have graduated from a Board-approved nursing program. However, for the states that do require a certain minimum GPA, it usually ranges between 2.5 to 2.75, which is roughly equivalent to a "B", "B-" or "C+" letter grade.
Anyone wishing to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) must first meet certain requirements and receive approval from their state's Board of Nursing. The requirements for taking the Boards, or NCLEX examination, and subsequently becoming a licensed practical nurse include receiving the proper education. Nursing education programs are very specialized and often provided in a cohort format, meaning that you work through your courses on a specific timeline with a body of other nursing students. Because of the way nursing education is delivered, and the great responsibility placed on nurses, certain grade point averages (GPAs) must be maintained, as they are a common indicator of how well the student is learning the prescribed material.
Board of Nursing Requirements
While not all states dictate a specific GPA prior to taking the LPN Boards, every state mandates that you must graduate from an accredited and approved nursing program. Often, nursing schools hold their students to a higher standard than even state minimum requirements. The majority of nursing schools will not graduate an LPN student who earns less than a 2.75 or 3.0 GPA, the equivalent of a "B" average. Furthermore, many nursing programs will place a student on academic probation for dropping below this average, or for achieving less than a "B" grade in any single class during the course of their nursing education. If the student fails to raise her GPA during the probation period, she may be dropped from the LPN cohort and required to re-apply for another term if she wants to continue her nursing education.
Obviously, if you cannot gain acceptance into a nursing program, you cannot graduate or take the LPN exam. Some nursing schools have prerequisite courses that students must complete prior to entry into the LPN program, such as college-level math and reading or microbiology. While some schools require the student only to pass the course, others may require a certain GPA or grade for these courses prior to acceptance in the nursing program. Often, the minimum GPA or grade is the same as what is required to graduate from the LPN program, as it is natural to assume that a student who can complete the prerequisite courses at that achievement level will have less difficulty with the more complex, intense nursing courses than one who merely passes.
Although there is a minimum GPA required to graduate from most nursing schools and some states impose minimum GPAs in order to take the LPN exam, it is important that nursing students do not focus entirely on achieving a specific GPA. Grades can be a good measure of how well you are grasping the material, but sometimes only reflect how well a person takes tests or completes homework. Nursing students should practice critical thinking and regularly evaluate how confident they feel when performing tasks, their actual understanding of the concepts behind nursing procedures, and the ways in which they are able to put their knowledge to use. All of these things are what the LPN examination focuses on --- not reciting information by rote --- and achieving a specific GPA does not guarantee that you have learned the skills necessary to be a prudent, effective nurse. Dedicate yourself to your education, focus on learning as much as you can, complete your coursework to the best of your ability, and you will most likely achieve both the requisite GPA to take the LPN Boards and a passing score on your licensing exam.
- National Council of State Boards of Nursing: 2011 NCLEX Candidate Bulletin
- Dr. Melody Pope, MSEd, MSN, EdD, RN; Professor of Nursing, College of the Redwoods; Crescent City, CA