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HESI vs. TEAS Exam: The Differences Explained

Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
Updated February 14, 2024
Edited by
    Nursing schools use entrance exams to make admissions decisions. Learn about the differences between the HESI vs. TEAS exams.
    Students taking an entrance exam on laptopsCredit: Getty Images
    • Nursing schools use entrance exams like the HESI A2 and the TEAS.
    • These exams cover different content in their various formats.
    • Understanding the format of each test can help you perform your best.

    Are you applying to nursing school? Then you’ve probably heard about the HESI A2 and the TEAS. Many nursing schools require one of these entrance exams as part of their admissions process.

    Your scores on nursing entrance exams can be the difference between acceptance or rejection. So it’s important to understand the differences between the HESI vs. TEAS — and what nursing schools are looking for with entrance exam scores.

    What Is the HESI A2?

    Many nursing schools use the HESI A2 to evaluate applicants. But what is the HESI A2? Health Education Systems, Inc., known as HESI, offers multiple healthcare exams. The A2 is their admission assessment test.

    The HESI entrance exam has eight sections with two bonus assessments for personality and learning style. However, you might not need to take every section — nursing schools decide which sections to require.

    HESI A2 Exam Sections

    • Reading Comprehension: 47 questions
    • Vocabulary and General Knowledge: 50 questions
    • Grammar: 50 questions
    • Mathematics: 50 questions
    • Physics: 25 questions
    • Biology: 25 questions
    • Anatomy and Physiology: 25 questions
    • Chemistry: 25 questions

    The number of questions and length of the HESI A2 depends on the nursing school, as do the minimum scores.

    Many colleges offer the HESI A2 test on campus. You may also be able to take the test at an approved testing center.

    What Is the TEAS Exam?

    The TEAS, also known as the Test of Essential Academic Skills, gauges your readiness for nursing school. The exam is offered by the Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI).

    You’ll answer 170 questions in 209 minutes during the TEAS exam. In addition to multiple choice questions, you’ll also answer fill-in-the-blank and ordered response questions.

    TEAS Exam Sections

    • Reading: 45 questions
    • Mathematics: 38 questions
    • Science: 50 questions
    • English and Language Usage: 37 questions

    Nursing schools that use the TEAS typically set a minimum score for admissions.

    HESI vs. TEAS: What’s the Difference?

    What’s the difference between the HESI vs. TEAS? Both tests measure readiness for nursing school, but some key differences exist.

    The two exams cover different content, with the HESI A2 typically taking longer and requiring more questions than the TEAS exam. As its name states, the TEAS focuses on essential academic skills, while the HESI A2 emphasizes healthcare-specific topics.

    Both standardized tests can be challenging, although the TEAS covers more general knowledge you may already feel confident about. And while the HESI A2 has more questions, a wrong answer has a smaller impact on your overall score.

    How do nursing schools decide which test to require? Some nursing schools prefer the ability to customize sections on the HESI A2. For instance, schools can add a learning style assessment or a personality profile. Each school determines its minimum test scores to admit students.

    Preparing for Nursing Entrance Exams

    How can you stand out on your nursing entrance exams? If you’re taking the HESI A2 or the TEAS — or both — here are some tips to boost your score.

    Understand the Exam

    Knowing what to expect on your nursing entrance exam will help you prepare. Make sure to review each section, test question formats, and common topics.

    Answer practice questions or take a practice test at the beginning of your study to get a baseline score. This can also help you identify areas of weakness to focus on as you study.

    Create a Study Schedule

    Set aside several weeks to prepare for your test. For example, ATI recommends six weeks to study for the TEAS exam.

    Create a study schedule that covers every section of the exam. Consider purchasing a study guide with practice questions and tips for each section. Stick to your schedule — studying now is an investment in getting into your top-choice nursing school.

    Review Your Answers

    As you study, make sure to review your answers to practice questions. Regardless of whether you were correct or incorrect, reviewing your answers can help you understand the test’s format and improve your responses.

    You can also use practice questions to gauge where you need additional practice.

    Take a Practice Test

    A practice test can help you mentally prepare for the exam, manage your time, and develop a strategy for answering the questions.

    Practice tests are also a great way to measure your progress. In addition to practice tests and study guides, you can find free practice tests online.

    Focus on Exam Day

    How you take your nursing entrance exams can affect your performance. So make sure you’re prepared for exam day.

    Practice stress management techniques so you’ll perform at your best. Get a good night’s sleep before the test and know where to go on exam day. Finally, take deep breaths, read the questions carefully, and answer confidently.