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How To Study for the HESI

How to Study for the HESI 

If you are eyeing nursing school, chances are you might need to take the HESI A2. This test gauges how a prospective applicant will fare in the nursing program, so some schools might require you to pass this exam to get accepted. Fortunately, getting good scores is achievable as long as you develop the proper study techniques. In this article, you will find out the best ways to study for HESI A2 and how to study for the HESI. There will also be other helpful guides and tips to help you improve your test scores and get accepted into your dream program.

Get Started with a Free HESI Practice Test  

What is the HESI A2 test?

The HESI A2 is a pre-admissions test used to screen applicants for nursing education programs. HESI stands for “Health Education Systems, Inc.,” while A2 means “Admission Assessment.”

Most schools require this test for admission to assess students’ English, Math, and Science skills. Some programs can be competitive, requiring different sets of scores to screen the best candidates. 

HESI A2 consists of eight sections with a specific number of questions and allotted time for each:

  1. Mathematics (50 questions, 50 minutes)
  2. Reading Comprehension (47 questions, 60 minutes)
  3. Vocabulary (50 questions, 50 minutes)
  4. Grammar (50 questions, 50 minutes)
  5. Biology (25 questions, 25 minutes)
  6. Chemistry (25 questions, 25 minutes)
  7. Anatomy & Physiology (25 questions, 25 minutes)
  8. Physics (25 questions, 25 minutes)

How to Study for the HESI A2

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. 

Use a Diagnostic HESI A2 Practice Test

The number one strategy in studying for HESI A2 is to use a diagnostic HESI practice test. 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. 

You will then use the results of the practice test to determine the subjects you’re good at and the ones that you still need to improve on. A good thing about well-designed practice tests is that they can identify the specific topics you still need to study. For instance, instead of generally reporting that you fared low in science, a good practice test will also show you that you need to learn more about cardiovascular systems or the atomic structure based on your answers.

Benefits of Taking a Diagnostic HESI Practice Test

Answering a simple practice can make or break your chances of getting accepted into the nursing program of your choice. Here are the specific ways a diagnostic test can help you achieve good scores for HESI A2. 

It Determines Your Current Situation

A diagnostic practice test shows your strengths and weaknesses by gauging your current knowledge and skills in specific subject areas. To improve your test scores, you must focus on your weaknesses. You can do this by identifying your incorrect answers, lucky guesses, and the questions that took you a while to answer. 

After that, look at two to three topics that you had a difficult time answering. It’s vital that you focus on the topics, and not the subject areas in general so that it is more precise for you on where you need to begin studying. For instance, instead of generally reporting that you fared low in science, a good practice test will also show you that you need to learn more about cardiovascular systems or the atomic structure based on your incorrect answers.

Get Started with a Free HESI Practice Test  

It Helps You Know the Required Resources

After determining your strengths and weaknesses, use those results to know the required resources to improve your test scores. Depending on your deficiencies, you can explore different resources such as videos, flashcards, or books to determine which type of material helps you best study the topics you need to study. 

A good strategy is to base your resources on your learning style. Your learning style is your preferred way of processing and retaining information. For example, if you are a hands-on learner who likes physically handling the learning material, you might study better using printed study guides and books. If you’re an audiovisual learner, then you might enjoy learning through videos. If the topic that you need to study requires more memorization, you can then try using flashcards. 

Your low test scores might be because you are not exposed to the suitable materials that fit your learning style. In this case, try to explore different resources and see the best ones that work for you. 

It Helps You Develop An Action Plan

After understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and required resources, you must then craft an action plan geared towards your improvement. 

To create an action plan, you have to set specific and achievable goals to have a clear picture of each step you want to take. You can also use criteria and a time frame in measuring your progress. An example action plan could be:

  1. Take the practice test and analyze the scores.
  2. Determine the specific topics you need to study.
  3. Study those topics for one hour in five days.
  4. Set a goal of achieving 5%-10% improvement in the test score.
  5. Retake the test.

It Helps You Understand the “Why”

A diagnostic test helps you identify why you’re having trouble on some topics. For example, you might have a problem with reading the questions carefully, which leads to your tendency to take incorrect answers.   

Common errors like this are bound to be repeated if left unchecked. Luckily, you can spot these patterns early by answering practice tests. As you answer more and more practice tests, you could uncover potential patterns that could be the reason why you’re having trouble with some topics.

Tips For Studying for the HESI

Below are some other helpful tips in preparing for your upcoming HESI test:

Stay Motivated

Many students experience a lack of motivation and energy to prepare for the test. One way to get motivated is to think about why you need to study in the first place. Go back to the reason why you want to pass HESI A2 and then visualize the future possibilities. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Look at your present self and envision what your future could be like. 
  • Imagine the opportunities that will come your way.
  • Picture how much better your future could be.

Lessen Your Anxiety

It helps to know the specific topics you need to study because it can also lessen your anxiety about the test in general. For instance, instead of stressing about being bad at math, knowing the specific topics, you need to study helps you realize that your worries for the test are easily workable. You can practice bit by bit on those topics and then try to improve your test scores. This strategy is called affect labeling, wherein you label your worries in your head, which then helps to diminish your fear. 

Invest in Study Resources 

While you can use resources like books or videos on the Internet, they do not offer the same type of comprehensiveness you can find in online courses. Take the time to invest in good resources that are tailored fit for HESI A2 test takers. These resources focus on topics that will show on the actual test. 

The Smart Edition HESI A2 online course has video lessons and flashcards that will help you on topics that you need to brush up on and several practice tests that will familiarize you with the test format of HESI A2. It also offers answer explanations wherein it shows how to get the correct answer, including the specific lessons to locate it.


The number one strategy in studying for the HESI A2 is to use a diagnostic test. Answering practice tests will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the required resources you need to improve. A diagnostic test will also help you develop an action plan and uncover any pattern of why you score low on specific topics.

To improve your test scores, you must be motivated and less anxious about the test. These improvements can compound if you invest in good study resources specially designed for HESI A2 takers. This way, you can focus on studying lessons that will show up on the test and familiarize yourself with what taking the actual exam feels like.

Now that you know the best strategies to study for the test, it’s time to take the first step towards your study plan. 

Take a diagnostic test using a free practice test from Smart Edition Academy. The free HESI A2 practice test will show an in-depth report of your test scores so you can quickly identify your weaknesses. It will also offer answer explanations, so you are appropriately guided on how to answer them correctly for the next time. 

For more comprehensive guidance for HESI A2, check out Smart Edition’s HESI A2 Online Course. This course offers five practice tests, 53 lesson modules, 100+ video lessons, and hundreds of flashcards. This online course includes everything you will ever need to pass the HESI test.

how to study for the HESI A2 | free HESI A2 Practice Test | Smart Edition Academy


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