10 Things You Need to Know to Pass the HESI Exam

Pass the HESI with flying colors with these tips.

You're ready to start your career in nursing, but you have to complete the educational requirements first.

Before you can begin your time in nursing school, you'll need to pass the HESI exam. Standing for Health Education Systems Incorporated, this test covers a variety of health science disciplines.

Though it can go by many names, including HESI A2, the HESI Admission Assessment Exam, or the Evolve Reach A2, this is one you can't afford to flunk.

Most schools will look at your HESI scores, along with those from your Nursing Entrance Test (NET) and the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) to determine your eligibility to join their nursing program.

Though studying for and passing the HESI exam can be a challenge, you're capable of mastering it! Today, we're sharing 10 things you need to know to ace the test.

Ready to learn more? Let's get started!

1. Understand the Exam Format

You can cram for months and study flashcards until you fall asleep, but it's as important to understand how the HESI test is laid out.

Familiarize yourself with the structure of the exam so you know what to expect before you walk into the testing center on the big day. Here are the high-level facts to know:

  • The exam consists of 326 questions.
  • Almost all of the questions are multiple-choice.
  • The test includes 10 subsets.
  • You have four hours to complete the exam.
  • You must take the test on a computer, as there is no paper version.

The 10 subsets include:

  • Reading
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Math
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Anatomy/Physiology
  • Learning Style Assessment
  • Personality Profile

Not all nursing schools will require that you take all of these subsets. Inquire in the admissions office to ensure you aren't taking any that your program deems unnecessary.

2. Be Prepared for a Challenge

It's important to understand the weight behind the HESI exam. To pass, you'll need to demonstrate your nursing knowledge and academic competency.

As such, the test makers may throw in a few curveballs to keep you on your toes. This is especially common with multiple-choice exams. More than one answer may seem correct, but it will be up to you to discern the accurate response.

3. Invest in Study Materials

Don't go at it alone!

There are plenty of printed and online study materials designed to help nursing students prepare for and pass the HESI exam.

Buy an HESI study guide and use it to frame your guided practice. You can also find flashcard study systems designed around the test material. These are handy when you're studying for the vocabulary part of the exam.

Want a comprehensive solution that encompasses all the reference materials you'll need? Check out our HESI exam prep package today.

4. Understand the Scoring System

In most testing scenarios, there's either a passing grade or a failing one. That isn't the case with the HESI exam.

Rather, you'll receive percentage scores on each of the subsets you test on. Most schools will require that you score at least 75% on each section.

When you're seeking admittance into a nursing school, each one will have its own set of standards that dictates the scores they'll accept. Are you already looking at schools? Research their scoring requirements beforehand so you know what to strive for!

5. Establish a Study Schedule

It's never wise to start studying the night before the exam.

As soon as you know you'll be taking the exam, go ahead and create a study schedule. Strive to at least review the material every day, holding a more in-depth session about three times a week.

Then, once you set your testing date, you can adjust your schedule to fit in as much review time as you can.

6. Take a Practice Test

Want to get a true feel for how well you know the HESI study material?

Book a few hours by yourself and take an online practice test. Treat the experience as you would the real thing. Put a sign on your door to limit distractions and leave your phone in the other room.

When you're done, check to see how you did! This can help you identify your areas of weakness and prioritize where to focus next.

7. Get the Easy Parts Done First

When scheduling your individual tests, take the ones you feel the most confident about first.

If you're great at English, that might mean taking the reading and grammar subtests before chemistry or biology. This allows you to get a few easy hurdles out of the way so you can hunker down and focus on the more difficult parts.

Remember, depending on where you want to go to school, you may not need to take all 10 tests. Yet, it's still helpful to go after the low-hanging fruit first and build up your strength for the more difficult ones.

8. Check Your Answers

The HESI exam as a whole is timed. Yet, the individual sub-sections aren't. Use that time at your discretion, checking back over any questions you weren't sure about.

This is helpful in the mathematics section, where it can be easy for one small slip-up to change your final answer. Remember, though you can't bring a calculator to the test with you, there is one on the screen. Use it to make sure you entered all numbers correctly.

9. Find a Mentor

The nursing community is a tight-knit and supportive one. To help increase your odds of doing well on the HESI exam, find someone who has been in your shoes.

It may be your supervisor at work or a classmate one year ahead of you. Pick their brain about the test and learn as much about it as you can. This person may also agree to be your study partner!

10. Rest the Night Before

If you don't know it by the night before, you're not ready to take the test.

Take that time to turn down early, get plenty of sleep and wake up to a hearty breakfast. Review any last-minute flashcards before you walk out the door

Prepare for the HESI Exam Here

As a nursing student, you're used to taking care of everyone else. As you prepare to take the next step in your academic and professional career, it's time to also tend to yourself.

The HESI exam doesn't have to get the best of you. We're here to help.

We designed our exam prep packages to cover everything you need to know to move forward. Invest in one today and receive access to tutorial exams, practice questions and more.

Feel free to contact us with any questions along the way. Now, take a deep breath. You've got this!