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How To Study For The Math Section Of The HESI Exam

In this post we’ll go over an outline of all the topics you will see on the HESI math section as well as provide you with a free timed HESI A2 math practice test that offers tons of HESI math practice. This outline comes directly from the Smart Edition Academy HESI online course. You’ll also get an idea of how using a timed HESI math practice test can help you become more comfortable with the format of the test, the types of questions you will see, and help you become faster at answering the questions with the given time limit. Check out everything you need to know about the test in our HESI exam ultimate guide review.

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How To Study For HESI Math

So how do you study for the Math section of the HESI exam? We get this question all the time. 

You’re not the first person to ask and you’re not the first person to struggle with this section of the HESI A2. 

Step 1: If you’re *just starting* or taking the HESI for another attempt, the first thing to do is take a free timed HESI A2 math practice test.

By taking this HESI math practice test, you have access to a full-length timed practice test which will then give you a breakdown of how you did on all the topics outlined in the table of contents below. 

As a result you’ll also get a “feel” for how quickly the time passes so you can be prepared for the actual test.

hesi a2 math practice test

Step 2: Evaluate your diagnostic report from the HESI A2 math practice test section of the practice test. 

Most importantly notate exactly what topics within math you did well on and the areas you need more practice on.

hesi math practice test score results

Step 3: Make a study schedule or a study plan. For example begin by making a list of subjects within the HESI math section that you are scoring 70% or better, 40-69%, and 0-39%.

Likewise, Don’t study topics that you scored high in. Start by studying the topics you scored the lowest in because you will have to revisit those topics several times and apply practice before seeing improvements in those categories.

Study the topics you scored low in and begin to plan when you will study these topics.

For example, for two weeks straight, you might dedicate 5 hours a week to reviewing two categories within the HESI math section: fractions and word problems.

Watch this video on how to make a HESI study schedule with a free template here.

Step 4: Get Good HESI Test Prep Resources Based On Your Learning Style

If you like to study within a group, you might like our free group tutoring sessions and Facebook study group.

If you like to study by listening or watching videos, you’ll love the 100+ videos in our 50+ lessons inside of our HESI Online Course

If you like to take practice tests and study from the answer explanations, you’ll love our 1,300+ practice questions and 8 timed practice tests in the HESI Online Course in addition to a question bank with practice questions organized by each topic on the test. 

Step 5: Retake a HESI A2 math practice test. At the end of those two weeks, you should be able to retake the practice test and see progression in the categories you’ve been studying.

Above all we recommend taking a practice test every 10-14 days to track your improvement. 

Students say studying for 6-10 weeks gives them the ability to take 4-6 practice tests and plenty of time to tackle their weak areas within each section.

HESI A2 Math Practice Test and Review

The math section of the HESI exam is difficult for a lot of students and you might be in the same boat. 

Nursing and allied health schools want to make sure you can handle the course load during your program. There is no doubt, you will have a lot of math between med dosage and converting to the metric system doing well on this section demonstrates that you have the ability to do well in the program.

The HESI math section is 55 questions in 50 minutes. 

This section can be hard to complete in the timeframe that they allot you. 

Being able to set up equations and solve them or create equations from word problems and solve them are examples of the types of problems you need to become better at solving quickly.

The key for beating the clock is to practice with timed practice tests as much as you can. 

The timed aspect of a HESI math practice test will help you become more comfortable working within the time constraints. 

Our free HESI math practice test has a scored report that breaks down every question you answered by the time you took to answer it. 

With this information you can start to get an idea of where you took too long and got hung up, once you know the types of questions that slowed you down you can figure out how to get faster. 

A calculator will be provided to you on the test which is a basic four function calculator. 

So let’s go ahead and just get right into the topics that you will see in this section. 

Basic Addition and Subtraction

As a starting point, it’s important to remember the basics. The basics include the concept of numbers such as whole numbers, real numbers, integers, rational, and irrational numbers.

Numbers 101

Important Things To Know:

  • Numbers are positive and negative quantities and often appear in base-10 format.
  • The number line illustrates the ordering of numbers.
  • Be familiar with greater than and less than symbols and their meaning in a numerical equation. 
  • Addition is the combination of numbers. It can be performed by counting objects or pictures, moving on the number line, or using the addition algorithm.
  • Subtraction is finding the difference between numbers. In addition, it can be performed by counting, moving on the number line, or using the subtraction algorithm.

Basic Multiplication and Division

As mentioned before, the HESI math section focuses on testing test-takers on the foundational math concepts, including multiplying and dividing numbers and the order of operations. Other important things to know include: 

  • The multiplication table is important to memorize for both multiplying and dividing small whole numbers (up to about 12).
  • Multiplying and dividing signed numbers follows two simple rules: If the numbers have the same sign, the product or quotient is positive. If they have different signs, the product or quotient is negative.
  • When evaluating expressions with several operations, carefully follow the order of operations; PEMDAS is a helpful mnemonic. The mnemonic PEMDAS (Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally) helps in remembering how to evaluate an expression with multiple operations. 

Here is an example of a problem featuring multiplication, division, and order of operations: 

HESI A2 Math Practice test

Decimals and Fractions

Fractions and decimals make their appearance frequently on the HESI exam. Here are the basics to remember about decimals and fractions:

  • A fraction is a number with a numerator and a denominator. A fraction can be written as a proper fraction, an improper fraction, or a mixed number. Changing fractions to a common denominator enables you to determine the least or greatest fraction in a group of fractions.
  • A decimal is a number that expresses part of a whole. By comparing the same place values, you can find the least or greatest decimal in a group of decimals.
  • A number can be written as a fraction, a decimal, and a percent. These are equivalent values. Numbers can be converted between fractions, decimals, and percents by following a series of steps.

Addition and Subtraction of Fractions

Let’s just get this out in the open. Fractions are going to be all over the HESI math section in one way or another. #Facts 

As part of taking the HESI, you will be expected to know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions. Here is what you need to know about adding and subtracting fractions: 

  • The process of adding or subtracting like fractions requires the numerators to be added or subtracted. The answer may be reduced.
  • Operations with fractions may produce an answer greater than the value of 1. The answer can be written as an improper fraction or a mixed number.
  • The process to add or subtract fractions without like denominators requires the fractions to be converted in order to have the same denominator, also known as the least common denominator.

Example of HESI math problem featuring the addition of fractions:

HESI math practice test question

Multiplication and Division of Fractions

We already spilled everything you needed to know about adding and subtracting fractions, now let’s talk about multiplying and dividing fractions. 

  • The process to multiply fractions is to multiply the numerators together and multiply the denominators together. When there is a mixed number, change the mixed number to an improper fraction before multiplying.
  • The process to divide fractions is to find the reciprocal of the second fraction and multiply the fractions. As with multiplying, change any mixed numbers to improper fractions before dividing.

Examples of HESI math problems featuring multiplying and dividing fractions: 

HESI math practice test

Ratios, Proportions, and Percentages

Ratios, proportions, and percentages are such a big part of the HESI math section, we have a free hour-long tutoring session video all about these topics below:  

Important things to remember: 

  • A percent—meaning “per hundred”—represents a relative quantity as a fraction or decimal. 
  • A ratio is a relationship between two numbers expressed using fraction or colon notation.
  • An equation of two ratios is called a proportion. Proportions are used to solve problems involving scale.
  • Rates of change are the speeds at which quantities increase or decrease. The formula provides the rate of change of quantity x over the period between some initial (i) time and final (f) time.


Algebra will be a good portion of the HESI math section but don’t worry it’s going to be mostly high school level algebra. So you should have seen a lot of this type of math already.

Equations with one variable

The HESI math section features the elementary concepts of algebra. On the HESI exam, you won’t be tested on advanced math concepts like trigonometry, probability, or polynomials. However, you will definitely see equations with one variable. 

Here is what you need to know about equations with one variable: 

  • A linear equation is an equation with one solution. Using opposite operations solves a linear equation.
  • The process to solve a linear equation or inequality is to eliminate fractions and parentheses and combine like terms on the same side of the sign. Then, solve the equation or inequality by using inverse operations.

Word Problems

Not only will you encounter fractions, decimals, proportions, ratios, and conversion on the HESI math section, but you can also expect word problems. 

Important things to know about word problems include:  

  • Using estimation is beneficial to determine an approximate solution to the problem when the numbers are complex.
  • When solving a word problem with integers, fractions, or decimals, first read and visualize the problem. Then, make a plan, solve, and check the answer.

We have a great video going over math word problems you can expect on the HESI, watch it here

The following five steps can make solving word problems easier:

  1. Read the problem for understanding.
  2. Visualize the problem by drawing a picture or diagram.
  3. Make a plan by writing an expression to represent the problem.
  4. Solve the problem by applying mathematical techniques.
  5. Check the answer to make sure it answers the question asked.

Check out the Smart Edition Academy group tutoring session with Ashlee for word problems:

Standards of Measure

Here are all of the conversions you need to know for the HESI listed below. We have an entire video going over HESI practice test problems all on conversions, click here to watch it. 

  • Centimeters, meters, and inches.   
  • Liters, cups, pints, gallons, quarts, ounces, and milliliters
  • Milligrams, grams, pounds, kilograms, and tons.

Example of a HESI math practice test question involving conversions: 

HESI A2 Math Practice Test

Grab a copy of our HESI cheat sheets with the conversions here


Check out the Smart Edition Academy group tutoring session with Ashlee for conversions:


These are all the topics that you will see on the HESI math section of the test.

It is a lot to know and a lot to master, however with math it’s really about doing as many practice problems as you can and getting the repetition of working through those practice questions over and over again. 

The Smart Edition Academy HESI online course or HESI math free practice test will be your best friend for having a ton of practice problems. 

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