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Table 1 Study characteristics of included articles (N = 44)

From: A scoping review of admission criteria and selection methods in nursing education

Author, year, Country, article type Purpose Participants Design Main study findings
Stuenkel 2006. USA [30].
Research article
To explore the predictive value of various standardized examinations and achievement measures for NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse) performance. 312 BSN students from 6 graduating classes who took the NCLEX for the first time (1997–2001). Correlational design The entrance criteria variables of GPA, NLN Pretest, and SAT total scores accounted for 51% of the variation (pass/fail status in NCLEX-RN) and identified 67% (10) of the fail group correctly. The results of this study suggested that entry-level predictors are related to NCLEX success. However, prerequisite GPA alone was not a good predictor.
Newton et al. 2007, USA [31].
Research article
To explore predictive value of scholastic and nursing aptitude of early academic achievement in a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program 164 sophomore nursing students. Exploratory descriptive design Scholastic and nursing aptitude together predicted 20.2% of the variance in early academic achievement, scholastic aptitude only 15.4% of the variance. Preadmission GPA was more important predictor of 1st semester GPA than TEAS-scores.
Hayes 2007, Canada [32].
Research article
A qualitative descriptive study designed to explore the nature of recruitment practices for basic baccalaureate degree nursing programs in Ontario 15 interviews of nursing faculty and institutional liaison officers, and relevant database materials Qualitative descriptive design Supplementary selection methods such as Interview, reference letters, autobiographies (personal statements) are necessary
Minimum grade set as a requirement in ac-academic achievement.
Whitehead et al. 2007, UK [33].
Research article
To identify of factors necessary for recruitment and selection of nursing students 106 students from three secondary schools mixed methods Examine applicants’ personal characteristics in the selection process (caring, good communication skills, helpful, patient, friendly, understanding and supportive, good social skills, kind, determination/physically strong, trustworthy, considerate, able to give advice, reliable, able to stand the sight of blood, considerate, altruistic, responsible, able to cope with death, open-minded.
Ahmad & Safadi. 2009, Amman [14].
Research article
to examine Relationship between GPA and desire to study nursing with the Chance of Success in Nursing 224 nursing students A cross-sectional design School grades and students’ desire to study nursing are recommended as an admission criteria for potential success in nursing programs the choice to study nursing based on desire was able to predict that students will be more satisfied with studying nursing
Newton and Moore 2009, USA [34]
Research article
To describe the relationships among scholastic aptitude, nursing aptitude, BSN student attrition prior to the final semester, and BSN student readiness for the NCLEX-RN. 94 BSN students. Exploratory descriptive design The final model indicated that scholastic aptitude was predictive of NCLEX-RN readiness but nursing aptitude was not. Neither scholastic nor nursing aptitude predicted student attrition.
McGahee et al. 2010, USA [35].
Research article
To examine student academic variables from a BSN nursing program to determine factors predicting success in NCLEX-RN. 153 graduates of BSN nursing programs over a period of 3 years between fall 2006 and spring 2009. Retrospective correlational design Science GPA (prior to admission, incl. Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry) predicts success in NCLEX-RN test.
Wolkowitz & Kelley 2010. USA [36]
Research article
To determine the strength of TEAS sub scores (science, math, reading, English) in predicting early nursing success. 4105 RN students correlational design Strongest predictor of early BSN nursing program success was science subtest, followed by reading, written/verbal, and mathematics. 14.9% of the variance in predicting early nursing program success was explained by the science sub score alone.
Timer & Clauson. 2011, Canada [8]
Research article
Does the admission process give reliable, valid and fair method of predicting students’ succession in regard to under-graduate academic and clinical courses and also the GPA? 249 students admitted to a Canadian accelerated baccalau-reate nursing program over a 4 year study period. Retrospective correlational design Among the selection methods, only academic records were able to predict students’ academic success.
Schmidt & MacWilliams. 2011, USA [37].
Review article
A systematic review of mostly used admission criteria for prelicensure nursing programs and the relationship between these criteria and success in nursing undergraduate pro-grams. Review from different articles. systematic review GPA of courses presumed to be essential in Nursing (English, psychology and sciences)
Achievement in sciences (biology, psychology, pathophysiology) in predicting success in nursing programs.
Standardized tests used in pre admission to nursing programs.
Use of Personal interviews to explore personal characteristics and the important consequence of reducing the rate of attrition
Motivational essays.
Nursing education outcomes
Prior experience in healthcare, volunteerism and other services as a selection method tool.
Shulruf et al. 2011, New Zealand [38].
Research article
The study focused on and high-lighted the predictive value of Undergraduate Grade Point Average as the best predictors for student achievements in their first year in undergraduate program 134 students in the undergraduate nursing program in the University of Auckland Retrospective correlational design The best predictor for the first year GPA is the National Certificate of Educational Achievement Grade Point Average. (NCEAGPA). The next best predictor is the university admission ranking scores. The NCEA is the secondary school assessment system in New Zealand.
Hernandez 2011. USA [39].
Doctoral dissertation
To examine the relationships between quantifiable cognitive preadmission variables and BSN program outcomes. 275 nursing students. Longitudinal design TEAS composite and section scores correlated with the study outcomes more strongly than GPA. TEAS composite and Science section were especially strong predictors of student success. TEAS composite score is strongly related to Fundamentals test benchmarking midway through the nursing program. Student withdrawal is significantly correlated with the TEAS Composite score.
Dante et al. 2011, Australia [40].
Research article
To define the factors associated with academic success or failure. 117 nursing students enrolled in years 2004–05 on two different bachelor’s courses. Retrospective correlational design Having good entry exam scores was associated with academic success.
Grossbach & Kuncel 2011, USA [41].
Research article
To examine the power of key admission and nursing school variables for predicting NCLEX-RN. 7159 participants yielded correlation estimates for 13 different predictors meta-analysis SAT and ACT predicted passing the NCLEX-RN. Prenursing (GPA) was also predictive, but to a lesser extent.
Pitt et al. 2012, Australia [42]
Review article
To identify factors that influence preregistration nursing students’ academic performance, clinical performance and attrition. 44 articles integrative review The most important influencing factors include: demographic characteristics, academic status, cognitive and personality / behavioral factors.
Jarmulowicz 2012, USA [43].
Doctoral dissertation
To examine the admission requirements of nursing programs to better understand the philosophical underpinnings 13 BSN student handbooks and academic bulletins, extraction of admission criteria. 33 full-time teachers Descriptive correlational design 35 admission criteria were used by nurse education programs. All education programs shared dual admission process (university admission followed by nursing program admission) and high school transcripts. Admission criteria for baccalaureate degree programs ranged from eight to 13 criteria
Herrera 2012, USA [44]
Doctoral dissertation
To understand the patterns of selection, preparation, retention and graduation of undergraduate pre-licensure clinical nursing students 584 nursing students enrolled in 2007 and in 2008 Design not stated Prerequisite courses of Human Nutrition, Clinical Healthcare Ethics, and Human Pathophysiology were predictive of completing the program in the four terms. NET scores did not predict program completion.
Rodgers et al. 2013, UK [45].
Research article
Identification of best practices in recruitment, selection and retention across Scottish universities providing pre-registration programs. 10 universities qualitative descriptive design GPA best reliable success predictor in nursing and other healthcare professions.
Assessing personal attributes by interview despite poor predictive reliability
Use of personal statements to examine the reasons for applicants to enter the field
Ruth-Sahd 2013, USA [46].
Review article
A review of the challenges facing nursing and medical curricular including admission requirements; suggestions about improving admission methods and teaching strategies. Not applicable Literature review A minimum GPA requirement for entry to nursing school
Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) American College Test (ACT)
Recommendation letters
Written essays
Perkins et al. 2013, UK [47].
Research article
How effective is Multiple Mini Interviews al as a selection tool for entry into a nursing pro-gramme. Assessment of St. George’s university 890 applicants and 82 Interviewers descriptive design More than 90% of participants preferred the MMI method, 65% preferred the MMI method over traditional interviews.
The predictive validity of the MMI method is greater than that of traditional interviews.
Usher et al. 2013, Australia [48].
Research article
o explore the motivations of student nurses enrolled in nursing courses 152 nursing students qualitative descriptive design to improve recruitment strategies in the future by assessing the applicants’ personal characteristics, such as helping others (Reduce the suffering of the people, educating people about the disease, care of people)
Lancia et al. 2013, Italiy [49].
Research article
To investigate the role in predicting nursing students’ academic success. 1006 BSN students (five cohorts), matriculated in consecutive academic years from 2004 to 2008 retrospective observational study The upper-secondary diploma coursework grades, unlike the admission test score, correlates positively with final degree grades and GPA of exam scores. Students who did not graduate within 6 semesters had lowest grades concerning their upper-secondary diploma coursework unlike the admission test score.
Lajoie 2013, USA [50].
Doctoral dissertation
To describe and compare reading comprehension of two groups of students, a pre-nursing student group and a senior nursing student group. Two groups of students, a pre-nursing student group (n = 44) and a senior nursing student group (n = 44). Descriptive design. Pre-nursing and senior nursing students scored below the standardization norms for comparable college students, and senior nursing students also scored below the standardization values for other health profession students at a comparable level of education.
Underwood et al. 2013, USA [51].
Research article
To evaluate the use of HESI Admission Assessment (A2) exam as a predictor of student success. 184 BSN students. Design not stated HESI scores predicted the final course grades in all of the three first-semester nursing courses. As the HESI scores increased, so did the final course grades.
Taylor et al. 2014, UK [52].
Research article
Explore the literature regarding the efficacy, reliability and validity of face to face interviewing and related selection processes as selection tools
Ascertain the views/perceptions of key stakeholders in relation to the selection process
7 higher institutions of higher education in Scotland with students, administration and clinical interviews participating. mixed methods Lack of research evidence regarding the validity and reliability of student selection methods, especially interviews
Disagreement about the characteristics of applicants to enter the field
assessing the non-cognitive and academic characteristics of applicants with different approaches (MMI, Personal statements, motivational letters, Literacy and numerical tests, Academic qualification, Personal and group interviews)
Jones-Schenk & Harper. 2014, USA [53].
Research article
To determine if students whose emotional intelligence characteristics meet or exceed those of successful staff nurses are more likely to be successful in a baccalaureate nursing program. 116
potential nursing students and 42 successful staff nurses
descriptive, correlational design Students with higher levels of emotional intelligence, particularly intrapersonal capacity and stress tolerance, are more likely to be successful in a baccalaureate nursing program than students with lower levels.
Waugh et al. 2014, UK [54].
Research article
To identify potential attributes and key skills for entering the field of nursing and midwifery 502 participants survey Consensus in the top seven ranked attributes: honesty and trustworthiness, communication skills, being a good listener, patience and tactfulness, sensitivity and compassion, good team worker and the ability to seek and act on guidance.
Bremner et al. 2014, USA [55]
Research article
To identify students most likely to succeed in nursing studies using TEAS 511 first semester students enrolled from fall 2011 to fall 2013 A cross-sectional, descriptive study Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) scores predicted first semester ATI proficiency
Harner 2014, USA [56].
Doctoral dissertation
To examine the relationship between TEAS scores and early academic success in a BSN program 218 nursing students. correlational study Two subcomponents of TEAS, namely Reading and English, were predictors of success in the first semester courses.
Hinderer et al. 2014, USA [57]
Doctoral dissertation
To explore the HESI admission scores, preadmission cumulative GPA and science GPA as predictors of progression to nursing major and first-time success on the NCLEX-RN. 89 nursing students admitted 2008–2010 (three cohorts) exploratory retrospective descriptive design Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) score was correlated with nursing GPA and NCLEX-RN success but not with timely progression.
Sanneh & Mbuiya. 2015, Finland [58].
Master thesis
Outline the currently used student selection methods in nursing education and other healthcare professions and identify any existing relationship between these methods and education outcomes. 17 articles Literature Review GPA as the most recurring student selection method in nursing and other healthcare professions.
Other selection methods include Multiple Mini Interview, Assessment centers, standardized preadmission tests
Relationships between these methods and education outcomes have also been covered.
Pitt et al. 2015, Australia [59].
Research article
To explore entry critical thinking scores (Health Sciences Reasoning Test) in relation to demographic characteristics, students’ performance and progression 134 BSN students. Longitudinal correlational study Statistically significant relationship was established between students’ entry critical thinking scores, academic performance and ability to complete the program in 3 years. The strongest predictor of academic failure was students’ entry HSRT-test subscale scores. Critical thinking scores had no significant relationship to clinical performance.
Elkins 2015, USA [60].
Research article
To investigate the possible predictors of success in completing the baccalaureate nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. 187 BSN nursing students from two courses admitted during fall 2007 and 2008. Correlational study A statistically significant relationship was identified between the preprogram GPA, ACT scores, anatomy grades, and the HESI Exit Exam scores with the completion of the BSN program and passing the NCLEX-RN.
Crouch 2015, USA [61].
Research article
To assess Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA), prerequisite GPA and the National League of Nursing (NLN) preadmission test as a pre-admission criterion. 192 first-year nursing students. Correlational study WGCTA, prerequisite GPA and NLN had a statistically significant relationship with the nursing GPA. Strongest relationship between prerequisite GPA and the nursing GPA
MacDuff et al. 2016, UK [62].
Research article
To interpret perspectives regarding on-site selection of student nurses and midwives. 72 nursing students, 36 lecturers and 5 members of clinical staff from 7 Scottish universities qualitative descriptive design Staff used a range of attributes (interpersonal skills, team-working, confidence, problem-solving, aptitude for caring, motivations, commitment) as part of holistic assessments.
Wambuguh et al. 2016, USA [13].
Research article
Report on the Predictability of Current Admission Criteria for Nursing Program Success 513 students descriptive, correlational design Findings of this study highlight pre-admission TEAS scores and pre-admit science GPAs as the academic factors that are useful for the selection of students with a higher likelihood of success in nursing school programs, as defined by program completion, graduating with a nursing program GPA of 3.25 or higher, and passing the NCLEX-RN
Gale et al. 2016, UK [6].
Research article
To ascertain evidence of bias in Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI), and to determine the predictive value of the MMI of academic success. 204 students who commenced studies in September 2011. A longitudinal retrospective design MMI and MMI numeracy marks appeared to significantly predict academic success (assessment marks). MMI literacy results predicted weakly academic success. MMI showed little or no evidence of bias (gender, age, nationality, location of secondary education).
Simelane 2017. Africa [63].
Master of thesis
to explore nurse educators’ perceptions of the current selection criteria and describe the criteria that they would recommend for better selection 19 participants qualitative, exploratory and descriptive design Necessary criteria for selecting a nursing student include: compassion, empathy, passion, intelligence, caring characteristics, an innate desire to help others, medical monitoring of applicants for chronic illness.
Callwood et al. 2017, UK [64].
Research article
To examine the reliability and predictive validity of MMIs using end of Year One practice outcomes of under-graduate pre-registration nursing, midwifery and paramedic students 227 student (nursing, midwifery, paramedic) Cross-discipline cohort study MMIs are reliable VBR tools which have predictive validity when a seven station model is used.
Callwood et al. 2018, UK [65].
Review article
to Identifying personal domains for Nursing Students Selection in MMI Method 46 article narrative synthesis systematic review Communication/ interpersonal skills/ written communication, Teamwork/ collaboration/ collegiality, Ethical & moral judgment/ academic integrity/ social justice/research ethics/disclosure of error, Critical thinking, Empathy/ emotional maturity, Honesty/ integrity, Self-awareness/ reflection, Problem solving, Respect for others (difference and diversity, privacy and dignity)/ Cultural competency, Compassion, Decision making.
Talma et al. 2018, Finland [66].
Research article
To compare the predictive value of two on-site selection methods used in nursing student selection, namely, psychological aptitude tests and literature-based exams 626 nursing students cohort study To assess cognitive and non-cognitive skills of nursing students is required.
Two on-site selection methods are predictive of nursing students’ levels of knowledge and skills (psychological test), and study success (literature based exam) at the beginning of their studies.
Future research should also focus on the admission/selection costs to universities
Haavisto et al. 2019, Finland.
Research article
To develop an evidence-based structure and content for the new nursing entrance examination. 3 focus group interviews (n = 26) and 39 articles interpretive descriptive design Learning skills (Language and communication skills, Mathematical skills, reasoning skills, Information technology skills, Self-directed skills), Social skills (Ethicality, Interpersonal Communication, Emotional intelligence), Certainty of career choice (Realistic perception of nursing profession, Desire to work in nursing, Characterizing self as a nurse, Imaging nursing as an ideal career)
Yousafzai & Jamil 2019, Pakistan [68]
Research article
To determine the relationship between various variables in the existing admission criteria and academic performance. 197 participants cross sectional study previous academic scores at diploma level were better predictors of the academic performance
McNeill et al. 2019, Canada [69].
Research article
Developing nurse match: A selection tool for evoking and scoring an applicant’s nursing values and attributes 63 first year nursing students case study-based qualitative process Person Centeredness, Accountability, Trust, Integrity, Commitment to Personal Development, Teamwork