A note on the gist of things at WGU:
Learn to be flexible. Things change frequently with WGU- courses, course requirements, etc. During a single term I didn't have any course changes but I know several students who have been enrolled for a few terms who have had changes throughout their enrollment which has caused frustration here and there. Just be prepared for it. Focus on ONE course at a time. Usually any changes are typically in your favor, they'll adjust cut scores for assessments or they'll do things like cut down hours on your practicum (I WISH this happened for me... I did 90 hours and they switched it afterwards to 45). Try to be patient and if any changes adversely affect your progress be sure to speak up for yourself, typically you are able to argue your right to continue just as you enrolled without the changes if you choose.
OA's versus PA's
OA's are objective assessments, these are multiple choice tests that are pass fail based on cut score (which by the way equates to a "B" grade or competency level at a traditional school). You take these via a testing center or via a web cam in the comfort of your own home where you are actually proctored by real people. A little weird to get used to but once you work out the occasional kinks of the web cam this is great. The way the new software works you don't even have to schedule your exams out ahead of time you can literally jump on any time you'd like and take the exam at will. Highly convenient.
PA's are performance assessments, a nice way to say "papers or presentations". These in my opinion are horrid. It ends up being a BIG long redundant paper (some 35+ pages for example) that cover a million areas on a rubric that demonstrate your knowledge and competency on that particular course. Each course has a completely different set of rubric requirements, some have power points associated, some like Biochem require you to make models & drawings, but in the end it's essentially paper writing at it's finest. I loathe PA's which unfortunately make up 90% of the MSN program. (BSN is roughly 50/50 ish).
Which order to take the courses in
I tried to decipher each course when I started to see which I thought may be the best to take first, come up with my own schedule of completion, etc. I learned after speaking with my mentor the first time that while you can technically take the courses in any order you'd like there is a "typical" way of doing things and in the end I went along with this. No need to make waves if this was a good way of completing what I needed to do. Most mentors will suggest that you take Health Assessment and Care of the Older Adult first along with possibly Community and Population Health. (Course numbers will change but typically the course names do not, so learn both). This order was fine to get me into the groove of things.
My Personal Course Timeline:
I ended up taking each OA with about 2 days of prep time ending with the 3rd day testing. I outlined my schedule ahead...