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All you need to know about the LPN Advanced Placement Program

Moving from an LPN to an RN is a huge career advancement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the average RN’s salary was 24,000 higher than the average LPN’s. And at Nightingale College, the advancement to an RN license can take as few as 8 months. So why not?



The process of advanced placement for LPNs involves transferring credits, testing, and some paperwork. Becky Christlieb, an advisor in our admissions department, summarized the process this way, “They need to apply, pass the entrance exam, get us their official transcripts, take the Level 2 HESI to see whether they place in level 2 or 3 and take any challenge exams they might need and then finish up with some paperwork and financial aid.”

There was a lot of stuff to do in there, let’s break that down a little bit.

Application and Entrance Exams

The first step in getting into any nursing program is applying. Nightingale College has admissions advisors that walk prospective students through the entire application and testing process. LPNs should also try to apply EARLY so they have time to take all their tests without being rushed.

“They need to start early and getting the tests done so that they feel like they’re confident in their testing, they don’t feel like they’re rushed, and they can study and do it,” said Stacie McVay, Assistant Manager of our Admissions Department

Click here to see the application.

Click here to speak with an advisor.

The second step is the entrance exam. The exam covers arithmetic, reading, and sentence structure, among other things. The exam may be repeated to achieve a higher score, however the student will be required to pay a fee with each test.

Get us your transcripts

Active or inactive license?

An active LPN license is accepted as 12 nursing credits automatically . So LPNs get credit for Level 1. If the license is inactive, the registrar will do an evaluation of credit, and the student may have the option to complete some challenge tests, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

Challenge Exams

Some LPNs think, “I got my LPN too long ago, my credits are expired so I will have to start all over again.” But really, that may not be the case. Transcripts will be evaluated by our registrar to see what could potentially transfer in, or to identify possible challenge exams. Challenge exams allow students to take an exam to test out of a subject, if the credits they took in the subject are expired or if they received a low grade.

Have you done the right Anatomy and Physiology?

A common concern with LPN credits is the Anatomy and Physiology courses. In some cases, LPN programs do not have a compatible Anatomy and Physiology courses for the RN programs, or the LPN took the courses too long ago and the credits have now expired. The LPN may have to retake the courses at Nightingale. Consult the admissions advisors and the registrar for more information.

The good news is that even if the courses do need to be repeated, Nightingale offers an accelerated program for LPNs to get through the A&P courses in just one semester. Upon completion, the LPN can then go right into the level they placed into (2 or 3).

What about an unfinished LPN program?

If a learner has completed most of the credits for an LPN license, we recommend finishing and obtaining the license before transferring in, making it easier for the registrar to evaluate which credits are accepted. After an LPN has taken the NCLEX-PN, Level 1 is automatically completed, but without the NCLEX-PN, the courses would need to be evaluated for transfer individually, meaning the LPN may have to repeat some courses.

If you are considering an RN over an LPN, or debating between an LPN, RN, or BSN, contact an advisor to see which is the best route for you. Click here to contact an advisor.

Optional Advancement Testing

An active LPN license transfers in as Level 1, so LPNs would have levels 2, 3, and 4 left to do. However, if LPNs think that they know the material in Level 2, they can take the Level 2 final exam that all of our other Level 2 learners have to take to move onto Level 3: the Level 2 HESI. If the LPN passes, they would gain credit for Level 2 and start in Level 3.

McVay emphasized that taking the Level 2 HESI is optional, and only for assessment purposes to set them up for success as they approach the NCLEX-RN. “It’s NCLEX-style questions. They get two tries,” McVay said. “We don’t want them to feel pressured, because we don’t want them to feel bad if they don’t make it. If they don’t get it, that just means they need that information. They need that information to pass the NCLEX-RN. It’s just an assessment to place them in the right level.”


We hope that this information was helpful for your nursing journey. If you have any questions regarding LPN advanced placement or admissions into our programs, please email admissions@nightingale.edu