Congratulations on your decision to attend nursing school! Most nursing schools—although not all—require taking the TEAS exam as a way to determine if a student is ready for the rigors of a nursing education.
This article will give you an overview of the TEAS exam and help you create a solid plan for passing it.
We will cover the following:
- What is the TEAS exam?
- When you can expect results
- Comparing the HESI and TEAS
- What is covered on the exam
- Preparing for the TEAS exam
- Next Steps
What is the TEAS exam?
The TEAS is a standardized admissions test for health-related college programs and can be either computer-administered or in paper and pencil format. The current exam is version 7, released on June 3, 2022. The test features 4 general sections.
- Is it mandatory?
Most nursing schools require a passing TEAS score, especially in more competitive nursing programs.
For example, if a school has space for 50 students but receives 200 applications, they must use different factors to evaluate which applicants have the best chance of being successful. TEAS is one of the tools they can use to help them do that.
- When is it taken?
Usually, students take this exam when they are ready to apply to their nursing program. Students often take it in advance, leaving enough time before the application deadline to retest if needed.
- How long is it?
The test contains a total of 170 questions, with only 150 questions scored. The 20 unscored questions are used for internal purposes. It may not be clear which of the questions in each section are unscored.
You will have 209 minutes to complete the test.
When should I expect results?
How you take the test will determine when you receive your results. For example, you could receive your results right away following an online exam via ATI. If you took the exam at a PSI testing center, you can expect results within 72 hours.
Your school may also have a policy on how soon you are allowed to view your results. ATI will send 1 transcript to the school of your choice.
Additional transcripts are available to purchase for submission to other schools. Be sure to check to make certain those schools accept results from other locations.
HESI and HESI A2 vs. TEAS: What’s the difference?
While this article’s focus is on the TEAS exam, it is also helpful to understand a little about the other entrance exam that may be used by nursing schools: the HESI and HESI A2 exams. If you are applying to multiple nursing schools, you may need to take both.
While the TEAS exam is a broader test of knowledge, the HESI also focuses on medical-related knowledge in addition to general areas.
HESI stands for “Health Education Systems, Inc.” and A2 stands for “Admission Assessment.” The HESI has 7 sections. However, most schools don’t require you to test on all of them.
The programs you consider will have specific information on which exam they require for admission.
Expert advice from nurses like you
What is covered on the exam?
There are many methods for taking the TEAS, but it is always the same exam no matter where or in which format you take it. There are 4 sections on the exam to assess your knowledge in reading, math, science, and English and language usage. Each section has a specific number of questions and its own allotted time limit:
- Number of Questions: 45 (6 of them are unscored)
- Time to answer: 55 minutes
- Content: Key ideas and details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of knowledge and ideas.
- Number of Questions: 38 (4 are unscored)
- Time to answer: 57 minutes
- Content: Numbers and algebra and Measurement and data.
- Number of Questions: 50 (6 are unscored)
- Time to answer: 60 minutes
- Content: Human anatomy and physiology, Biology, Chemistry, and Scientific reasoning.
English and language usage:
- Number of Questions: 37 (4 are unscored)
- Time to answer: 37 minutes
- Content: Conventions of Standard English, Knowledge of language, and vocabulary to express ideas in writing.
This current version of the TEAS exam also incorporates new question types. Historically, the TEAS exam has been multiple-choice. However, it now includes multiple select, fill-in-the-blank, ordered responses and hot spots.
If you are taking the exam in person, it is essential to note what items are prohibited.
Do NOT take:
- Electronics, including cell phones and calculators (calculators are provided there)
- Extra layers of clothing (anything you bring is subject to inspection)
- Personal items like purses or backpacks
- Food or drink unless medically necessary.
- Photo ID
- Your ATI log-in information (obtained at the time you registered for the exam)
- Any items your school may specifically require
- Two sharpened No. 2 pencils (if taking the paper version of the exam)
If you are taking the TEAS online, you will have several steps to complete before exam day. Firstly, you need to make sure your computer meets the system requirements required for the test. You will also take a “dry run” in the online testing environment prior to exam day. The “dry-run” will help pre-identify any potential issues.
On your test day, you will log in to your account, follow instructions, and a proctor will approve you to begin the test.
How should I prepare for the TEAS exam?
The best advice for preparation is to make sure you give yourself time. ATI recommends you allow at least 6 weeks of preparation time.
If you are vying with other potential students for a few open slots in a nursing program, it is well worth your best efforts to ensure you score well on the TEAS exam.
Two popular approaches for TEAS exam prep are doing a self-guided study or purchasing a program. Your school may also have materials you can use to prepare.
The first thing to do is register for your test date, time, and location. Before you do that, check with the school(s) to which you are applying to determine if they have their own requirements for testing. Some schools will not accept TEAS exam results from another institution or location, so it is essential to understand your school’s policy before registering.
The biggest mistake made during testing is not reading the question carefully enough. Luckily, there is an easy fix for that! Just be sure to thoroughly read the section and the questions so you understand the question.
Practice tests—especially at the beginning and again towards the end of your studying—are incredibly beneficial. Practice tests will help you understand where you need to focus your efforts.
On exam day, get a good night’s sleep, eat at least a small breakfast, stay hydrated, and don’t be late for the test! If you’re going to a testing center, make sure you know where it is and its parking situation.
Once you get your results, you can decide if the score is high enough. If you want to go for a higher score, you will be able to re-take the test 2 more times if needed.
The average score is 60%, but some schools may expect scores closer to 80% for admission. You’ll need to understand how the school of your choice defines a passing score and how many times that school allows you to take the TEAS exam.
Once you have successfully passed the TEAS exam, allow yourself some time to celebrate your accomplishment! If you’re still uncertain about which nursing school you will attend, we have valuable information for multiple options to help you decide.
You should also hang on to the studying tips you’ve learned here. They will be handy on tests you will take during nursing school and when you’re approaching your next big, standardized test: the NCLEX.
Finally, sometimes it helps to connect with fellow nursing students and mentors who understand what you’re going through. Keep in mind resources like our forum, where you can ask questions and receive advice from someone who’s been there.
And once you pass the NCLEX, we’ll help your ideal employer find their way to you!
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“About the ATI TEAS.” atitesting.com. Accessed May 30, 2022.
“HESI® vs. TEAS: What’s the Difference?.” uniontestprep.com Accessed May 30, 2022.
“ATI TEAS FAQ Center.” help.atitesting.com. Accessed May 30, 2022.
“FREE ATI TEAS® PRACTICE TEST QUESTIONS.” kaptest.com Accessed May 30, 2022.
“Need help with the TEAS?” uniontestprep.com Accessed May 30, 2022.