If you are in nursing school or considering nursing school, chances are you have heard about the HESI exam. The HESI exam is a standardized exam used by many nursing programs around the country. Many schools require you to take the HESI exam to be admitted into their nursing program or to be eligible to graduate.
This article will help you understand what is covered on the HESI exam and how to prepare for this part of your nursing journey.
- What is the HESI exam?
- Is the HESI mandatory?
- How long is the HESI?
- HESI A2 vs. HESI exit exam
- HESI vs. TEAS
- What should I expect to be on the HESI exam?
- How should I prepare for the HESI?
- Studying resources
- Next steps
What is the HESI exam?
HESI stands for Health Education Systems Incorporated. This exam is used to help schools assess and improve student performance.
Many schools use the HESI exam as a part of the admission process. It’s also used in many nursing programs to help students prepare for the NCLEX. Studies have shown that students who perform well on the HESI exam have a high probability of passing the NCLEX.
Is the HESI mandatory?
The HESI exam is not mandatory to become a registered nurse. However, some schools require it. Many schools include the exam as a part of their application process and as a requirement to graduate.
It is important to be aware of your school’s requirements for the exam and when you will be expected to take it.
Your school will dictate when you need to take the HESI exam. You may be required to take the HESI Exit Exam before you can graduate.
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How long is the HESI?
The HESI Admissions Exam consists of 326 questions over 4 hours. The HESI Exit Exam consists of 150 questions.
Different schools may only require you to take certain parts of the exam. It is essential to talk with your school to understand which parts of the exam you need to prepare to take.
HESI A2 vs. HESI exit exam
The HESI A2 exam consists of 9 sections:
- Reading Comprehension
- Basic Math Skills
- Anatomy and Physiology
Each section contains 25-50 questions. The exam also includes a learning style inventory so schools can understand how you learn best. This exam gives a comprehensive picture of your baseline knowledge and learning style.
At the end of your nursing program, you take the HESI Exit Exam to identify strengths and weaknesses before taking the NCLEX. This exam focuses specifically on nursing content and critical thinking. The exam consists of 150 questions and uses NCLEX style questions, including multiple-choice, select all that apply, fill in the blank, and drag/drop.
Your school may require a specific passing score on the HESI Exit Exam to be eligible to graduate.
HESI vs. TEAS
Another standardized exam schools may use is the TEAS exam (Test of Essential Academic Skills). This exam is less specific than the HESI A2 exam and is also used for non-medical programs.
The main difference between the HESI and TEAS exams is the content. The TEAS exam consists of 4 sections:
- Language Usage
The TEAS exam consists of 170 questions over 3.5 hours compared to the 326 questions in 4 hours for the HESI A2 exam.
What should I expect to be on the HESI exam?
The HESI Exit Exam consists of 3 sections with 150 questions in total:
- Nursing Process: assessment, analysis, planning, implementation, evaluation
- Client Needs: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, physiological adaptation
- Nursing Specialties: dosage calculation, fundamentals, health assessment, nutrition, pathophysiology and pharmacology, community health, critical care, gerontology, maternity, pediatrics, medical-surgical, psychiatric/mental health
It’s also important to note that you can not use a personal calculator. You can only use the calculator provided on the exam computer.
Once you have taken the exam, you can expect results within 2 weeks.
How should I prepare for the HESI exam?
It is important to know the subjects that will be covered by your school as you may only need to study specific content.
It is also important to develop study methods that cater to your learning style. Study groups, flashcards, practice tests, and study guides are just a few methods to help you prepare for the HESI exam.
HESI has many study tools and practice tests that you can access here.
Practice tests can help you identify weak areas and gauge your expected score.
A passing score for the HESI A2 exam is dependent on each school. For score requirements, you can check your school’s admissions requirements.
The HESI Exit Exam scores indicate NCLEX pass probability:
- Above 950: outstanding pass probability
- 900-949: excellent pass probability
- 850-899: average
- 800-849: below average
- 750-799: additional preparation needed
- 700-749: serious preparation needed
- 650-699: probability of failing
- Below 649: expected poor performance
Your school may require a certain passing score to be eligible to graduate. Most schools allow two attempts to pass the exam.
You are allowed to take the HESI A2 exam once every 60 days. If you do not meet your school’s passing score, you have another 3 attempts over the course of 12 months.
The cost of the HESI exams is dependent on each school, but it typically ranges from $40-100 per test. Some schools will incorporate the cost of the exams into tuition. You can also inquire with your school for more information on payment for the exam.
To begin preparing for the HESI exam, there are many practice tests, study guides, and resources available here.
You may also want to begin preparing to take the NCLEX exam. Most schools offer free or discounted NCLEX test prep to their students.
Finding the right test prep for you can be overwhelming. Sometimes it helps to hear from firsthand experience. Check out Incredible Health’s nurse forum where you can get firsthand advice for your specific questions. This is a great option to connect with other nurses and nursing students.
Questions from the Incredible Health Nurse Community
- What is your best tip for dealing with a stressful situation at work?
- How do you deal with veteran nurses and doctors who look down, and degrade new grad nurses? Some of them are a little older so it’s hard for me to defend myself.
- I’m 43 and want a new career. Recently I was accepted into a 24 month RN program. Am I too old to start a nursing career?
- What exactly is the role of a nursing union?
- How do I make myself more marketable?
- I want to become a nurse manager in the future. Are there any books or resources I can read to help me learn?
Now that you have learned more about the HESI exams, what are your next steps?
Your first step is to determine what your school requires and when to expect to take the HESI exam. You can find this information on your school’s application website or by reaching out to your academic advisor.
Exams can seem overwhelming at first. But remember, it is a tool to help you practice for the NCLEX so you can continue your career as a registered nurse.
With the proper preparation, you can be confident you will pass the HESI exam.
There are so many tools to help you prepare for these exams, and all your hard work and preparation will pay off as you begin your nursing career!