Reading Comprehension

Most careers require a firm grasp of reading and writing. In nursing, having above average reading comprehension skills is paramount to your success. If you cannot read a chart and immediately understand everything that is written, you could be endangering the lives of your patients. Nurses need to read, and read at a high level, in order to function in a professional manner.  Most students going into the HESI feel that reading comprehension requires no preparation.  This is where they get you.  The HESI reading comprehension is no joke.  The tests are patterned to test critical thinking skills, requiring speed and accuracy.  Please do not challenge the test without preparation.  You may purchase just the reading comprehension or the entire package.


In the Reading Comprehension section you will read several passages. Each one is followed by a number of questions about it. You are to choose the one best answer, A, B, C or D, to each question.

Answer all questions about the information in a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.

Read the following passage:

  1. The railroad was not the first institution to impose regularity on
  2. society, or to draw attention to the importance of precise
  3. timekeeping. For as long as merchants have set out their wares at
  4. daybreak and communal festivities have been celebrated, people
  5. have been in rough agreement with their neighbors as to the time of
  6. day. The value of this tradition is today more apparent than ever.
  7. Were it not for public acceptance of a single yardstick of time,
  8. social life would be unbearably chaotic: the massive daily transfers
  9. of goods, services, and information would proceed in fits and
  10. starts; the very fabric of modern society would begin to unravel.

Example I

What is the main idea of the passage?

  1. In modern society we must make more time for our neighbors.
  2. The traditions of society are timeless.
  3. An accepted way of measuring time is essential for the smooth functioning of society.
  4. Society judges people by the times at which they conduct certain activities.

The main idea of the passage is that societies need to agree about how time is measured in order to function smoothly. Therefore, you should choose answer C.

Example II

In line 6, the phrase “this tradition” refers to

  1. the practice of starting the business day at dawn
  2. friendly relations between neighbors
  3. the railroad’s reliance on time schedules
  4. people’s agreement on the measurement of time

The phrase “this tradition” refers to the preceding clause, “people have been in rough agreement with their neighbors as to the time of day.” Therefore, you should choose answer D.

Now begin work on the questions.

Practice Passage

  1. The Alaska pipeline starts at the frozen edge of the Arctic Ocean.
  2. It stretches southward across the largest and northernmost state in
  3. the United States, ending at a remote ice-free seaport village nearly
  4. 800 miles from where it begins. It is massive in size and extremely
  5. complicated to operate.
  6. The steel pipe crosses windswept plains and endless miles of
  7. delicate tundra that tops the frozen ground. It weaves through
  8. crooked canyons, climbs sheer mountains, plunges over rocky
  9. crags, makes its way through thick forests, and passes over or
  10. under hundreds of rivers and streams. The pipe is 4 feet in diameter,
  11. and up to 2 million barrels (or 84 million gallons) of crude oil can
  12. be pumped through it daily.
  13. Resting on H-shaped steel racks called “bents,” long sections of
  14. the pipeline follow a zigzag course high above the frozen earth.
  15. Other long sections drop out of sight beneath spongy or rocky
  16. ground and return to the surface later on. The pattern of the
  17. pipeline’s up-and-down route is determined by the often harsh
  18. demands of the arctic and subarctic climate, the tortuous lay of the
  19. land, and the varied compositions of soil, rock, or permafrost
  20. (permanently frozen ground). A little more than half of the pipeline
  21. is elevated above the ground. The remainder is buried anywhere
  22. from 3 to 12 feet, depending largely upon the type of terrain and
  23. the properties of the soil.
  24. One of the largest in the world, the pipeline cost approximately
  25. $8 billion and is by far the biggest and most expensive construction
  26. project ever undertaken by private industry. In fact, no single
  27. business could raise that much money, so 8 major oil companies
  28. formed a consortium in order to share the costs. Each company
  29. controlled oil rights to particular shares of land in the oil fields and
  30. paid into the pipeline-construction fund according to the size of its
  31. holdings. Today, despite enormous problems of climate, supply
  32. shortages, equipment breakdowns, labor disagreements, treacherous
  33. terrain, a certain amount of mismanagement, and even theft, the
  34. Alaska pipeline has been completed and is operating.

Practice Questions

  1. The passage primarily discusses the pipeline’s
    1. A. operating costs
    2. B. employees
    3. C. consumers
    4. D. construction
  1. The word “it” in line 4 refers to
    1. A. pipeline
    2. B. ocean
    3. C. state
    4. D. village
  1. According to the passage, 84 million gallons of oil can travel through the pipeline each
    1. A. day
    2. B. week
    3. C. month
    4. D. year
  1. The phrase “Resting on” in line 13 is closest in meaning to
    1. A. Consisting of
    2. B. Supported by
    3. C. Passing under
    4. D. Protected with
  1. The author mentions all of the following as important in determining the pipeline’s route EXCEPT the
    1. A. climate
    2. B. lay of the land itself
    3. C. local vegetation
    4. D. kind of soil and rock
  1. The word “undertaken” in line 26 is closest in meaning to
    1. A. removed
    2. B. selected
    3. C. transported
    4. D. attempted
  1. How many companies shared the costs of constructing the pipeline?
    1. A. 3
    2. B. 4
    3. C. 8
    4. D. 12
  1. The word “particular” in line 29 is closest in meaning to
    1. A. peculiar
    2. B. specific
    3. C. exceptional
    4. D. equal
  1. Which of the following determined what percentage of the construction costs each member of the consortium would pay?
    1. A. How much oil field land each company owned
    2. B. How long each company had owned land in the oil fields
    3. C. How many people worked for each company
    4. D. How many oil wells were located on the company’s land
  1. Where in the passage does the author provide a term for an earth covering that always remains frozen?
    1. A. Line 3
    2. B. Line 13
    3. C. Line 19
    4. D. Line 32                              { Answers: D, A,A,B, C, D,C, B, A, C)

Would you like more practice? You can choose from the HESI Prep Package which contains all exams with multiple exams on subject matter, or just choose to take individual subject tests.

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