Your Guide to Nursing Entrance Exams

Meg Lambrych, RN-BC
Updated May 15, 2024
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    Many nursing programs require prospective students to take an exam. There are various nursing entrance exams, including the PAX, TEAS, HESI, Kaplan, and PSB.
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    If you are applying to nursing school, you will likely be required to take an entrance exam.

    The type of exam you take depends on the program you are applying to and the degree you want to earn. In this guide, we introduce some of the common nursing entrance exams you might come across. If you want to know more about the testing and application process for a specific nursing program, contact your nursing school of choice and request details on their application process.

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    What Is a Nursing Entrance Exam?

    Nursing school is notoriously difficult, so schools devised entrance exams to assess prospective students’ academic aptitude. Though they are far from perfect, these exams are designed to help determine your likelihood of success in a nursing program. Schools use them to assess your knowledge in different academic areas, including mathematics, reading comprehension, and verbal skills.

    Some tests on our list also have personality components that assess your preferred learning style.

    Nursing entrance exams are taken before you apply to nursing school, and your score is just one data point in your overall application. All schools weigh these scores differently. The most common nursing school entrance exams include:

    • National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Exam (PAX)
    • Nursing Entrance Test (NET)
    • Kaplan Nursing School Admission Test
    • Test of Essential Academic Skills Exam (TEAS)
    • Health Education Systems, Inc. Admissions Assessment (HESI A2)
    • PSB Aptitude for Practical Nursing Exam
    • PSB Registered Nursing School Aptitude Exam
    • PSB Health Occupations Aptitude Exam

    Nursing Pre-Admission Exam (PAX)

    The PAX is one of the most commonly used nursing school entrance exams. It is designed for registered nurses (RN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) who are pursuing a nursing certificate, associate degree in nursing (ADN), or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

    The PAX assesses verbal abilities, mathematical skills, and understanding of scientific topics. It includes 160 multiple-choice questions covering three subject areas:

    • 60 questions in reading comprehension and word knowledge
    • 40 math questions
    • 60 science questions

    Test takers have two hours and five minutes to complete the entire exam.

    Many companies, such as Mometrix, offer free practice questions and study guides for students taking this test.

    You can register for and take the PAX through the schools you apply to. Exam fees typically cost $60-$100.

    Nursing Entrance Exam (NEX)

    Overhauled in 2024 by the National League for Nursing, the NEX is a nursing school admission exam designed for LPN and RN programs. The exam is divided into three sections: verbal (58 questions), math (45 questions), and science (60 questions), with each section taking about an hour to complete.

    The exam costs $52.50 for an in-person administration and $68.50 to take the test remotely. Similar to PAX, which is also administered by the National League for Nursing, this test evaluates mathematics and reading speed.

    The math portion of the test includes concepts often taught in high school math courses. Students often spend extra time studying for this part of the exam.

    Kaplan Nursing School Admission Test

    The Kaplan nursing school exam evaluates student likelihood of success in LPN or RN programs. It does not require previous nursing education.

    This test has four sections of 91 multiple-choice questions. It evaluates test-takers writing, reading, math, science, and critical thinking skills. The Kaplan nursing school admission test takes about three hours to complete and costs $50-$70. Learners usually need a passing score of 60%-70% on the exam. However, each school may have different scoring standards.

    Test takers often choose to brush up on high school-level topics in reading, writing, math, and science and can utilize various study materials, including Kaplan study guides and YouTube instructional videos, to supplement the textbook content.

    Test of Essential Academic Skills Exam (TEAS)

    The TEAS exam is another common nursing school test for RNs and LPNs. The multiple-choice exam contains four sections:

    • Reading
    • Mathematics
    • English and language use
    • Science

    The test requires 209 minutes to complete. Some online materials to prepare for the TEAS exam include’s practice tests and study guides and ATI’s TEAS prep products.

    Test takers complete a total of 170 questions drawn from high school-level knowledge in each area. The reading section contains 53 questions on passages, maps, and graphs. The 36-question math section explores general problem-solving, algebra, statistics, and geometric calculations. The 53 science questions cover physiology, anatomy, life and physical sciences, and general scientific reasoning. Lastly, the English portion tests understanding of standard language conventions and vocabulary.

    You can take the TEAS nursing school entrance exam online, at designated testing centers, or through the school where you wish to apply. The TEAS exam requires a $35-$70 fee.

    Health Education Systems, Inc. Admissions Assessment (HESI A2)

    The HESI A2 nursing school entrance exam is primarily for prospective RN and LPN program applicants. The test has eight sections: reading comprehension, vocabulary and general knowledge, grammar, math, physics, biology, and anatomy and physiology.

    HESI exam questions draw on high school-level knowledge, placing extra emphasis on science topics. The HESI exam also includes sections on learning styles and personality.

    Learners prepare for the HESI exam with a variety of resources, including Mometrix’s HESI A2 Secrets Guide. Learners can also find practice exams for the HESI A2 test through and While the exam fee varies, most schools charge $40-$65.

    PSB Aptitude for Practical Nursing Examination

    Designed by the Psychological Services Bureau (PSB), this nursing entrance exam was developed for those pursuing a nursing career. According to PSB, the Aptitude for Practical Nursing Examination addresses prerequisite knowledge for practical or vocational nursing careers.

    The exam contains five broad sections:

    • Academic aptitude
    • Spelling
    • Information in the natural sciences
    • Judgment and comprehension in practical nursing situations
    • A vocational adjustment index.

    Popular preparation materials for the PSB nursing school entrance exam include the Mometrix Secrets Study Guide and the Ascencia PSB Practice Nursing Exam Study Guide. Applicants can expect to pay a $25 exam fee.

    PSB Registered Nursing School Aptitude Examination

    The PSB Registered Nursing School Aptitude Examination is designed for aspiring RNs. It is a 105-minute, 360-question test made up of five multiple-choice sections:

    • Academic aptitude
    • Spelling
    • Reading comprehension
    • Natural sciences
    • A vocational adjustment index

    The academic aptitude section features 30 questions in three parts: verbal, arithmetic, and nonverbal. Mometrix describes the nonverbal section as a type of IQ test requiring test-takers to find the relationships and differences between objects.

    Many learners spend extra time studying for the exam’s verbal and arithmetic portions. Students can prepare for the PSB RN nursing school entrance exam with the Mometrix Secrets Study Guide and the tried-and-true flashcards. The study guide also includes methods for improving one’s nonverbal skills. PSB RN test takers usually pay $25-$45 to sit for the exam.

    PSB Health Occupations Aptitude Examination

    Schools use the PSB Health Occupations Aptitude Examination (PBS HOAE) to assess students pursuing training in healthcare, including nurses. This exam is commonly used for students enrolling in an ADN or BSN program.

    The exam evaluates prerequisite knowledge in reading comprehension, spelling, and the natural sciences and provides a vocational adjustment analysis.

    This adjustment analysis evaluates test takers’ behavioral and personality characteristics to determine their likelihood for success as a nurse. Candidates pay $25-60 to sit for the PSB HOAE nursing school exam. Learners can take advantage of iPrep’s free practice materials and affordable online course to put their best foot forward on the PSB HOAE.

    Many nursing programs require prospective students to take an entrance exam. There are multiple tests, including the PAX, TEAS, HESI, Kaplan, and PSB exams.

    The exact exam content varies, but most include some form of assessment in mathematics and communication skills. Some exams also have personality components meant to assess your learning style.

    While these exams are important, remember that no exam alone can determine your nursing potential. If you’re struggling to prepare for a nursing school entrance exam, use all your resources, such as study guides, exam preparation courses, YouTube review videos, tutors, and any resources your school offers.

    And remember: you can always try again if you don’t score high enough on your first attempt.

    Page last reviewed on May 8, 2024

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