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HESI A2 Exam Guide

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Nursing schools can use the Health Education Systems, Inc. Admission Assessment (HESI A2) to assess an applicant’s abilities to perform successfully in nursing school. The exam tests candidates’ pre-admission knowledge of areas in their programs. It helps guide admission decisions that result in positive outcomes for nursing programs, such as student retention and graduation rates.

Many college and university nursing programs require the HESI A2 as part of the admissions process. Often, applicants must take the exam and provide scores by the application deadline date. At some schools, they must take the exam during the admissions interview.

While the HESI A2 assesses nursing school applicants, the HESI Exit Exam determines a student’s likelihood of passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

This guide offers information on what the HESI A2 covers, where to take it, how to register for the exam, and how much it costs. Keep reading for tips from a nursing professor on passing the examination and a list of study resources.

What Subjects are Covered on the HESI A2 Exam?

The table below lists the HESI A2’s components, topics, and recommended completion times. The exam’s three main academic areas consist of language, math, and science, which test prospective students’ readiness for nursing school academics.

The language section covers grammar, reading comprehension, and vocabulary and general knowledge. The math portion focuses on basic math skills including general math facts, decimals, fractions, household measures, and ratio and proportion. Science topics comprise biology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology.

Personal assessment areas evaluate learning and personality styles and critical thinking abilities. Nursing programs select which examinations they require applicants to take and often list them on their admission requirements web pages. If not, candidates should contact the programs to which they plan to apply for subject matter guidance.

HESI A2 Exams

Academic AreaExamRecommended Time
English LanguageReading Comprehension60 minutes
English LanguageVocabulary and General Knowledge50 minutes
English LanguageGrammar50 minutes
MathBasic Math Skills50 minutes
ScienceBiology25 minutes
ScienceChemistry25 minutes
ScienceAnatomy and Physiology25 minutes
Learner ProfileLearning Style15 minutes
Learner ProfilePersonality Profile15 minutes
Source: Elsevier

How to Register for the HESI A2 Exam

Candidates can take the HESI A2 at designated testing sites and at colleges and universities. Prometric testing centers offer the exam on site or online. Test-takers create an Evolve account on the Elsevier site and register for a distance exam according to their school’s instructions. Students will need to enter a code specific to their school.

Registering for testing at a college or university requires calling the school to schedule or register online and creating an Evolve account. Test fees may vary by institution. Some schools offer online HESI A2 exams. Students take the test on their own computers or in a school’s computer lab and register according to their nursing program’s instructions.

The bottom line for HESI A2 registration and costs: check program admission requirements.

Tips for Passing the HESI A2 Exam

Phyllis Morgan, a member of the Walden University nursing school faculty and a certified family nurse practitioner, offers tips to help students prepare for and pass the HESI A2 exam.

Familiarize Yourself With the Exam

Morgan suggests taking a HESI A2 pretest to identify your strengths and limitations, then “focus on content areas where you have limitations in order to be as successful as possible on the exam.”

Develop Good Test Taking Strategies

Taking multiple practice tests helps with test development strategies. “For example,” says Morgan. “There are often two possible correct answers to a question. You’ll want to learn strategies for how to identify the best answer in this situation.”

Form a Study Group

Morgan advises forming a study group, if possible; even one that meets online. “Study groups of 3-4 people can be beneficial in passing exams,” she offers.

Create a Study Schedule

“Do not wait until the last minute to study,” Morgan warns. “Instead, set a schedule. It is not wise to wait to study the night before any exam and expect to pass.” Study 1 to 2 months before taking the exam for at least 1 to 2 hours a day.

Use a HESI Study Guide

Morgan suggests that using a HESI A2 book, such as the one from Elsevier, better prepares you than a HESI A2 exam study guide from a different certification review company. Use the HESI resources and aids that are available to you. HESI is a total testing package and has a wealth of information offered to students to help them be successful.

Use Flash Cards to Review Concepts

“There are ready-made flashcards available for purchase through HESI.” Morgan says, “Or you can get creative and develop your own set of flashcards using index cards.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice tests not only help identify areas that need attention and formulate test-taking strategies, they also better prepare you for the exam experience. Focus on what you need to learn, rather than what you already know.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you use a calculator on the HESI A2?

    Examinees can use calculators, but they cannot bring their own to the test. Digital calculators appear on the exam screens.

  • How is the HESI A2 scored?

    The HESI A2 uses a percentage system for scoring, with 100% being the highest score a student can earn. Each nursing program sets its own requirements for passing scores.

  • How long should you study for the HESI A2 exam?

    Morgan advises, “Create a study schedule that is manageable and allows you adequate time to study and prepare for the exam.” Plan to take several practice tests.

  • Can the HESI A2 be taken multiple times?

    The HESI A2 can be taken multiple times, but only once every 60 days and no more than three times per year. Individual nursing programs may impose different restrictions.

  • How much does it cost to take the HESI A2 exam?

    Colleges and universities charge different rates based on the testing method and subjects covered. Contact your chosen program(s) of study to inquire about testing fees.

HESI A2 Study Resources

A number of resources exist to help with test preparation, including books, apps, websites, and flashcards. The list below features a sampling of the best HESI A2 study guides:

Meet Our Contributors

Portrait of Phyllis Morgan

Phyllis Morgan

Phyllis Morgan, PhD, FNP-BC, CNE, FAANP, faculty member for Walden University’s master of science in nursing (MSN) program, boasts more than 29 years of nursing experience. Dr. Morgan has been a certified family nurse practitioner (FNP) for several years, and is senior core faculty and academic coordinator for the FNP specialty at Walden. She also works as an FNP for CVS Caremark Minute Clinic in northern Virginia.

Dr. Morgan’s research focuses on African American men’s and women’s health issues. She has published several research articles, presented at national and international conferences, and written grants focused on health disparity issues among African Americans.

Reviewed by:

Portrait of Theresa Granger, Ph.D., MN, NP-C

Theresa Granger, Ph.D., MN, NP-C

With over two decades of teaching and clinical practice as a family nurse practitioner, Dr. Granger is an expert in nursing education and clinical practice at all levels of education (associate, baccalaureate, and graduate). She has published and lectured extensively on nursing education and clinical practice-related content. Her expertise ranges from student advising and mentoring to curricular and content design (both on ground and online) to teaching and formal course delivery. Dr. Granger is one of the founding faculty members of the University of Southern California’s first ever fully online graduate family nurse practitioner program.

Feature Image: AJ_Watt / E+ / Getty Images

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