HESI Nursing Tests - How to Pass HESI Exams

What is HESI?

Health Education Systems Incorporated (HESI) is a U.S. based company that provides study material and various exams to nursing school administrators and nursing students. HESI was acquired by Elsevier in 2006 and is sometimes referred to as Evolve Elsevier or HESI Evolve.

What is the HESI A2 Exam?

The HESI entrance exam, sometimes referred to as the HESI A2 or HESI Admission Assessment Exam, is a test used by traditional and accelerated nursing programs to evaluate candidates for admission to their schools. The HESI A2 exam consists of several exams testing proficiency in English, reading comprehension, vocabulary, math, science, biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology. The exam also evaluates a prospective student’s learning and personality style.

HESI A2 Exam Subjects

The HESI Entrance Exam (HESI A2) covers different subject areas such as: reading comprehension and vocabulary, grammar, math, biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and physics. There is also a section that attempts to determine a candidate's personality and learning style. Nursing schools can customize the sections they want to assess their candidates on, as well as determining the scores needed for admission. Consult with your nursing school so they can give you specifics about what subjects to focus on.

HESI A2 Question Types and Number of Questions

There are 326 questions on the HESI A2 exam.

The HESI A2 Math exam contains 50 questions and is designed to take 50 minutes or less to complete. The math exam assesses a candidate's math skills as it relates to health care. Tested skills include: multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, fractions, ratios, proportions, and decimals. Students may also be tested on math skills such as conversions, household measures, roman numerals and dosage calculations.

The HESI A2 Reading Comprehension exam consists of 47 questions and is designed to take 1 hour or less. The reading portion of the HESI is intended to measure a candidate's ability to understand reading passages, as they relate to health related situations. Candidates are expected to be able to identify a main concept, determine the meaning of words and phrases in context, understand passages and make logical conclusions.

The HESI A2 Vocab test has 50 questions and is designed to take 50 minutes. Students are evaluated on their knowledge of various health care related basic vocabulary words.

The HESI A2 grammar tests consists of 50 items and is designed to take 50 minutes or less. The test measures a student's knowledge of basic grammar principles including important terms and their uses in grammar, parts of speech, and common grammatical errors.

The HESI A2 Chemistry exam is 25 questions long and is designed to take no longer than 25 minutes. This exam is intended for use by schools that require Chemistry as a prerequisite. Chemistry topics that will be tested include: atomic structure, the periodic table, matter, chemical equations, chemical reactions, chemical bonding and nuclear chemistry.

The HESI A2 A&P exams contains 25 questions taken in a 25 minute period. This exam assesses a student's understanding of anatomy and physiology for schools who require A&P as a prerequisite. The HESI A2 A&P exam measures a student's understanding of anatomical structures, systems and general terminology.

The HESI A2 Biology exam consists of 25 questions and has a recommended time limit of 25 minutes. The test is used by nursing schools who require Biology as a prerequisite. The HESI A2 Biology test covers photosynthesis, metabolism, cells, cellular respiration, biology basics and biological molecules.

The HESI A2 Physics exam contains 25 questions and students are given up to 50 minutes to complete the exam. Schools who require Physics as a prerequisite will require this test. The HESI A2 Physics test will cover the following areas: Newton's Laws of Motion, rotation, friction, energy, gravitation, waves and sound, average speed, projectile motion, acceleration, light and optics.

Your nursing school may include a HESI A2 Learning Style and Personality Profile exam as part of their admissions testing. The HESI A2 personality test has two sections:

  • Learning Styles - A 14 question test intended to identify your learning style. Students will have 15 minutes to take this assessment.
  • Personality Style - The Personality Assessment consists of 15 questions given in a 15 minute time period. This test will help identify your personality style as it relates to learning. After completion, students will get study tips relating to their personality and learning style.

How the HESI A2 is Scored

Each Nursing School determines passing scores and it is similar in intent to tests such as the ACT or SAT. However, the most important thing to know is that you get your test results immediately, printed out by the proctor at the end of your test.

Eligibility to take the HESI A2 Entrance Exam

Most nursing schools have prerequisite requirements to apply to their programs, before you can be authorized to take the HESI A2. Contact your desired nursing program for further details.

HESI A2 Exam Costs

The cost for taking the HESI A2 exam can range anywhere from $35 to $70. Costs vary according to the institution administering the test and you should contact your chosen nursing program for details on this. There is a retesting fee if you fail, so taking adequate preparations and study time can save you money.

How to Register for the HESI A2 Entrance Exam

The HESI A2 exam is available at many nursing schools and community colleges. At certain locations, the test is offered every few weeks. The test may also be available at a Prometric testing site near you. Check with your nursing school or local community college to obtain the current testing dates. You can often sign up through your institution. Most nursing schools offer test dates to correspond with application due dates.

HESI Exit Exam

The HESI Exit Exam helps graduating nursing students prepare for their professional licensure exam (NCLEX). Nursing schools often use HESI to help predict the student's likelihood of success in tests such as the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN licensure exams. HESI also has 18 specialty exams for students attending nursing school that ultimately culminate in the HESI Exit Exam, to graduate.

HESI Exit Exam Subjects

The HESI Exit Exams are developed to match the latest NCLEX test plans. They test the entire nursing curriculum and they attempt to predict whether or not the test taker will pass the NCLEX exam, which every nurse is required to pass for professional certification.

The core subject areas of the HESI exit exam are:

  • Nursing Process (Assessment, Analysis, Planning, Implementation, Evaluation)
  • Client Needs (Safe/Effective Environment, Management of Care, Safety and Infection Control, Health Promotion and maintenance, Psychosocial Integrity, Physiological Integrity, Basic Care and Comfort, Pharmaceutical and Parenteral Tx, Reduce Risk Potential, Physio Adaption)
  • Specialty Area (Community Health, Critical Care, Fundamentals, Geriatrics, Maternity, Medical Surgical, Pathophysiology, Pediatrics, Professional Issues, Psychiatric/Mental Health)
  • Nursing Process: Assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation
  • Client Needs: Infection control, basic care and comfort, health promotion and maintenance, care management and safety
  • Specialty Areas: Critical care, geriatrics, pediatrics and mental and psychiatric care

HESI RN and LPN Exit Exam Question Types and Number of Questions

The HESI RN Exit Exam is 150 questions. The HESI LPN Exit Exam can consist of either 150 questions or 75 questions. HESI Exit Exam questions are usually focused on the critical thinking level, similar to NCLEX exams. The question format on the exit exam is predominantly multiple choice (4 possible answers) but can also include select all that apply, fill in the blank, hot spots, charts or drag and drop.

How the HESI Exit Exam is Scored

The HESI exam is scored on a scale of 0-950. The following scores demonstrate how the HESI Exit Exam scores correlate to probability of passing the NCLEX.

  • >950 – OUTSTANDING probability of passing NCLEX
  • 900-940 – EXCELLENT probability of passing NCLEX
  • 850-899 – AVERAGE probability of passing NCLEX
  • 800-849 – BELOW AVERAGE probability of passing NCLEX
  • 750-799 – Additional preparation needed
  • 700-749 – Serious preparation needed
  • 650-699 – Grave danger of failing NCLEX

Most Nursing Schools require students to take and pass the HESI exit exam prior to graduation. The passing score required to graduate varies from program to program, but generally speaking a score of 850 or higher is considered a good score.

Retaking the HESI Exit Exam After Failure

Each nursing program has their own requirements for retaking the test if you fail it. Contact your nursing program for further details.

How to Prepare for HESI Exams

Depending on whether you are preparing to take the HESI entrance exam or the HESI RN or LPN Exit Exam, one rule remains universal: Give yourself adequate preparation time to study (weeks, not days) and make a study plan, using a calendar.

How to Study for the HESI Exam

  1. Make sure you understand the format, duration and methods of the exam.
  2. Make a study plan. Allot specific time on specific days and set goals before each study session that you aim to accomplish.
  3. Invest in additional test prep resources.
  4. Organize a study group with your classmates.
  5. Take practice exams.

HESI-RN Exit Exam
Practice Tests

  1. Uworld.com
  2. My Nursing Mastery
  3. NCSBN.org

HESI Success Stories

Additional FAQ about the HESI exam

Can you use a calculator on the HESI?

Yes. However you can not bring your own calculator. The computer has a calculator that you can use on-screen.

What is the difference between HESI and NCLEX?

The HESI Exit Exam attempts to mimic the NCLEX exam, but the HESI exam is typically what nursing students need to pass in order to graduate nursing school. The NCLEX is taken after nursing school for professional licensure and certification to work as an entry level nurse.

Is HESI A2 the same as HESI?

The HESI A2 is an entrance exam required by many nursing schools for admission. The HESI Exit Exam is taken at the end of nursing school and a passing grade is typically required to graduate.

Is HESI a good predictor of NCLEX?

The HESI Exit Exam predicts passing the NCLEX, based on the following scores:

  • >950 – OUTSTANDING probability of passing NCLEX
  • 900-940 – EXCELLENT probability of passing NCLEX
  • 850-899 – AVERAGE probability of passing NCLEX
  • 800-849 – BELOW AVERAGE probability of passing NCLEX
  • 750-799 – Additional preparation needed
  • 700-749 – Serious preparation needed
  • 650-699 – Grave danger of failing NCLEX
  • <649 – Poor performance expected.

How much does it cost to take the HESI test?

$30 to $70, depending on who the administrator of your test is.

What is a passing grade on the HESI Entrance Exam?

Varies by Nursing School. Your program determines the passing grade, so it’s best to contact them directly.

HESI™ is a registered trademark of ELSEVIER INC., which is unaffiliated, not a sponsor, or associated with Cathy Parkes or this website.