HESI Exam Prep Guide

We’re glad you’re here! This is the ultimate guide to the HESI exam loaded with great free resources. Smart Edition Academy has the best HESI A2 test prep available and in this guide were going to cover everything you need to know to prepare for and pass the HESI exam. Here are a few of the great resources available to you:

Get a free HESI Practice Test

Free HESI A2 Exam Study Resources

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Subscribe to our YouTube Channel where you can find helpful videos on everything related to the HESI test. 

What is the HESI A2 Test?

HESI Admissions Assessment Exam or HESI A2, is an exam that is often selected by nursing schools/programs during the application process, and is required for admission. The test is taken by prospective students in order to assess the skills and abilities of the applicants in area such as English, math, and science. There are other similar, yet different tests, that may be required by your nursing program of choice. Be sure to contact your school for exact exam requirements.

Ideally, the reasoning behind taking these entrance exams is to determine how a student is likely to perform in nursing school, based on how well they perform on the test. Studies have also shown that the entrance exam results are linked to how well a student will perform during their first year in nursing school, as well as measure their outcome for success and completion of the nursing program. These tests also act as a preparation for the Registered Nurse licensure exam, the NCLEX, after graduation. The HESI specifically aims to prep students for taking the NCLEX exam.

The HESI exam is slightly different in structure compared to other nursing exams. Prior to beginning your application process, contact your nursing school of choice to identify which test is needed. If HESI is the exam of choice, make sure you find out which subjects you need to be tested on. This will be essentially helpful when studying and preparing for the exam. There are a total of 10 versions of the test that can be taken. Also, since every school utilizes the HESI differently, score requirements will also vary.

How to study for the HESI​

Before ordering a bunch of material and making flashcards, take a free HESI practice test like the one offered on this page. A practice test will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses for each of the eight subjects on the HESI. Once you have identified your weaknesses you should plan to spend the majority of your time focusing on those areas, this will help improve your score the fastest. 

For a deeper dive into this topic check out our guide for how to study for the HESI exam.

After identifying those weak areas, invest in quality resources from creditable sources.

Smart Edition free HESI A2 practice test

You should consider purchasing HESI exam prep whether it is a HESI study guide or online course, Smart Edition has some great options for you for this. 

You’ll want to jump in the lessons to brush up on any areas that need improving and supplement the lessons with our video lessons for each topic. 

Flashcards are also a great way to reinforce what you have learned to make sure it sticks. 

In addition to your studying schedule it’s really important to take as many HESI practice tests as you can to become more familiar with the material and the test format. We have you covered on this with up to 5 practice tests you can take as many times as you like.

Smart Edition HESI Exam Prep Online Course 

What is on the HESI Test?​

The HESI is comprised of 8 sections, however, not all programs require applicants to take all 8 sections of the HESI. You should confirm with the program you are applying to comfirm which subjects you are required to take.

  • Mathematics (50 questions, 50 minutes)

  • Reading Comprehension (47 questions, 60 minutes)

  • Vocabulary (50 questions, 50 minutes)

  • Grammar (50 questions, 50 minutes)

  • Biology (25 questions, 25 minutes)

  • Chemistry (25 questions, 25 minutes)

  • Anatomy & Physiology (25 questions, 25 minutes)

  • Physics (25 questions, 25 minutes)

What is on the math section of the HESI?

The math section of the HESI has decimals, fractions, ratios, proportions, percentages, equations with one variable, standards of measure and solving real world word problems. 

What is on the reading comprehension section of the HESI?

The reading comprehension section of the HESI has questions on tone, mood, transition words, drawing conclusions, making inferences, evaluating an argument, facts and opinions, main ideas, topic sentences, supporting details, author’s purpose, point of view, and summarizing text. 

What is on the vocabulary acquisition section of the HESI?

The vocabulary and general knowledge section of the HESI is comprised of questions on root words, prefixes, suffixes, domain specific words within the medical industry, context clues, and multiple meaning words.  

What is on the grammar section of the HESI?

The grammar section of the HESI includes questions on adjectives, adverbs, capitalization, conjunctions, prepositions, direct and indirect objects, modifiers, nouns, pronouns, punctuation, spelling, subject verb agreement, types of clauses, and types of sentences. For more helpful tips about the grammar section of the HESI, watch this video

What is on the biology section of the HESI?

The biology section includes questions on the introduction to biology, cell structure, cell function, cell type, cellular reproduction, cellular respiration, photosynthesis, genetics, and DNA.

What is on the chemistry section of the HESI?

In the chemistry section, HESI test takers can expect questions on the following subjects: acids and bases, chemical bonds, chemical solutions, designing an experiment, properties of matter, scientific notation, states of matter, temperature, and the metric system. 

What is on the anatomy and physiology section of the HESI?

The HESI A&P section includes questions on the following systems: cardiovascular system, endocrine system, gastrointestinal system, integumentary system, lymphatic system, muscular system, nervous system, organization of the human body, reproductive system, respiratory system, skeletal system, and urinary system. 

What is on the physics section of the HESI?

The physics section of the HESI includes questions on the following topics: friction, kinetic energy, nature of motion, waves and sounds, electricity, and magnetism. 

How hard Is the HESI Exam?

The HESI is difficult if you aren’t as familiar as you should be with the foundations you need to get into your program of choice. Knowing the ins and outs of A&P and even the metric system is crucial for success in the healthcare field. The HESI is in place to ensure you are the right fit for a program that will ultimately be much more difficult than the HESI exam.

The HESI exam is a difficult test by any students standards. However the level of difficulty for any one students has many variables which make this question very subjective. 

The biggest factor is how well you know the material when you begin studying. If you have been out of school for 20 years then approaching these topics again can be more difficult. 

If English is your second language you might find the grammar and reading sections to be more difficult than a native speaker would. 

When it comes to science, students who have taken A&P 1 and 2 college courses have a major head start than those who don’t.

At any rate, if you have a good HESI test prep resources like the Smart Edition Academy online course and you can put in the time to study and give your self enough time to study, you will do great on the HESI test. 

HESI A2 Test Dates

The HESI test is offered throughout the year and can be taken both in person at a testing center or you can take the HESI exam from home.

The exact time and dates available will depend on the testing centers which are usually located at the school you are applying to, so check with your school to see what days and times they offer. 

Just be careful and take extra time to make sure you are prepared for taking the test at home, many students report technical difficulties and other issues that have made taking the test from home challenging.

How do I register for the HESI exam?

  • Go to the EVOLVE main website and choose I’m a Student 
  • Choose Register for Distance Testing → Register → Redeem/Checkout
  • You will then make an Evolve account, read registered user agreement, Choose Yes, I accept, SUBMIT
  • Once you have registered, you will be able to access My Content under the HESI Assessment Student Access link
  • Select Payments: Here you will be able to choose test date and location
  • Follow the prompts and Proceed to Checkout

How much does the HESI A2 exam cost

The price can range from $50-80 or more and it really depends on the program you are applying to so it’s best to check with them first. 

Official fees should be confirmed with the official exam authorities.

There are several fees that go into the total fee:

  • Registration fee
  • Score deployment fee (having scores sent to School/program of choice)
  • Test center fee (if applicable). May vary with testing center and/or program.

The fee is non-refundable so make sure you need to take the test for your program and be familiar with any other requirements your school may have. 

Where do I take the HESI exam?

Most tests are given at your schools testing center on campus, however some schools do allow you to take the test remotely using Proctor U at your home. The school or program you are applying to will be able to give you more details on how and where they administer the test.

What is the HESI A2 test passing score?

The HESI exam is not a pass or fail exam and every schools passing score is different which can vary from anywhere between 50%-90%. 

Many programs will have a minimum passing score that you will need to achieve in order to be considered, the schools will typically select applicants with the highest scores among other application factors like pre-requisite courses, GPA, and any relevant experience you may have. 

The HESI passing score can vary widely and it’s more typical to see lower score requirements for a 2 year associates degree program which is usually somewhere between the 50% to 65% range. 

If you are applying to a bachelors degree program the score requirements can be much higher well into the 70-80%+ range. 

Another big factor for the HESI test passing score for any particular school is how competitive the school is. 

Some states like California are very competitive and might have 300 applicants for only 50 seats, in those types of situations the required HESI test score can be on the highest end which can be in the upper 80% range. 

How is the HESI A2 test scored?​

You will receive individual scores for each subject area based on a percentage system as well as an overall cumulative score which is the average of all your individual subject areas scores. The scores are calculated by taking the number of questions you answered correctly divided by the total number of questions, this applies to both the subject area scores and the total overall composite score.

To get your overall score take the percentage scores for each section you tested for and add them together, then divide that number by the number of section tests you completed. 

Can I retake the HESI A2?

Yes. However every program has different restrictions on how many times you can take it and how long you need to wait in between taking it. 

Some schools allow up to 3 retakes while others only allow for one test attempt and some schools will make you wait 30-45 days before you can retest. 

The best thing you can do is to check with the program you are applying to and see what their requirements and restrictions are and plan accordingly.

How long does it take to get my HESI A2 test results?

Scores are provided immediately upon completion of each section and your cumulative score will be given when you complete all required sections of the exam. You can log into your Elsiever account at any time after taking the test to see your results again.

How long are my HESI A2 exam scores good for?

After taking the test you can use your scores for 24 months to submit with your application to your program or school. 

Can I share my HESI A2 test score with more than one school?

Once you receive your score you can share the score with any program you are applying to and that includes multiple schools if you want. 

Can you use a calculator on the HESI A2 exam?

Yes, you will be able to use a calculator on the test but you don’t need to bring one. A four function calculator will be provided to you on the screen of the computer you are testing on. 

Can I go back to a question on the test?

Yes, you can go back to a question on the HESI A2 and you can also flag a question to return to it. However you can only do this for the section you are in. Once you have completed a section you can not go back and change your answer.

What order will the subsections of the test be in?

In the start of your test, there will be a list of each section that you are required to take for your school. You can start with any section and take them in any order you want. We recommend having a plan and knowing how you want to move through the sections of the exam. 

Check Out More HESI A2 Blog Posts

Free HESI Math Notes

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Free HESI A2 Grammar Notes

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How To Study for the HESI

Studying for HESI A2 needs a strategy that optimizes for the best use of your time and resources. This means you will need the right set of tools to prepare for the test. This section will delve into the number one strategy to prepare for HESI A2 and other vital tips in studying for the actual exam. 

A diagnostic test is an assessment tool that identifies your strengths and weaknesses in specific subject areas. With the HESI A2, a great place to start is by taking practice tests similar to the actual exam.

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