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Your Guide to Nursing Entrance Exams

Timon Kaple
Updated November 23, 2022
    Are you getting ready to take your nursing entrance exam? Read on for all of the essential information you need to prepare for the most commonly used nursing school exams.
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    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    A young man sitting and taking a practice exam at his desk. He is writing down his test answers on a notepad while looking at his computer.Credit: sturti | E+ | Getty Images

    If you are applying to nursing school, you may be required to take a nursing school entrance exam.

    These exams determine your likelihood for success in a nursing program. Schools use them to assess your knowledge in different academic- and healthcare-related areas. Questions on these exams also test your comprehension, critical thinking, and communication skills.

    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, it is a good idea to contact your nursing school of choice.

    National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Exam (PAX)

    The PAX exam is one of the most commonly used nursing school entrance exams. It is intended for RNs and LPNs pursuing a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree in nursing.

    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 Test (NET)

    The NET is another common nursing school test for LPN and RN programs. Split into six parts, test takers have 155 minutes to complete this exam. Similar to the PAX, this test evaluates mathematics and reading speed skills. It also assesses learning styles, social decision-making, and the ability to deal with stressful situations.

    The math portion of the test includes concepts often taught in high school math courses. Students usually spend extra time studying for this part of the exam. The other five sections cover a broader range of non-nursing topics. Your performance in these sections depends on your general academic skills, attention to detail, critical thinking, and reading comprehension. You can prepare for the exam by following a study guide with practice test questions.

    Earning a score of 65 and 55 on the math and reading sections, respectively, will make you a competitive nursing school applicant. Schools evaluate scores on the remaining four parts based on their internal standards for a passing score. The cost of the NET nursing entrance exam varies by school.

    Kaplan Nursing School Admission Test

    The Kaplan nursing school exam assesses students’ likelihood for success in LPN or RN programs. The exam does not require any 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 up to 180 minutes to complete and costs $50-$70. Learners usually need at least a 60%-70% on the exam for a passing score. However, each school maintains its own scoring standards.

    Test-takers often choose to brush up on high school-level topics in reading, writing, math, and science. According to Lansing Community College’s nursing program, many students prepare for the Kaplan nursing school exam by using the Kaplan study guide, TEAS prep books, YouTube instructional videos, and SAT prep materials.

    Test of Essential Academic Skills Exam (TEAS)

    The TEAS assessment 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 exam include TEASpracticetest.com’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.

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

    The HESI A2 nursing school entrance exam is primarily used for prospective RNs and LPNs. The test has nine sections, including grammar, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension, and math. Questions draw on high school-level knowledge, placing extra emphasis on science topics. The HESI A2 test also includes sections on learning styles and personality.

    Learners prepare for the 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 test-guide.com and BoostPrep.com. While the exam fee varies among locations, most schools charge $40-$65.

    PSB Aptitude for Practical Nursing Exam

    PSB nursing entrance exams are intended for candidates pursuing a healthcare program. This includes LPNs who wish to enroll in practical and vocational nursing programs. The test evaluates the skills, knowledge, and abilities a student has developed over time. This assessment focuses less on psychological or abstract personality traits. However, it does include a vocational adjustment index that examines test-takers’ behavioral traits.

    The four remaining sections in the 360-question, 105-minute PSB nursing school exam assess academic aptitude in vocabulary, math, nonverbal comprehension, spelling, natural sciences, and judgement and comprehension in practical nursing situations. There is no reading comprehension section.

    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 Exam

    The PSB RN nursing school aptitude exam is designed for aspiring RNs. This 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 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 Exam

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

    The exam evaluates prerequisite knowledge in reading comprehension, spelling, and the natural sciences. It also assesses test-takers’ academic aptitude in math, verbal, and nonverbal areas.

    The PSB HOAE exam also includes a vocational adjustment index. This evaluates test-takers’ behavioral traits and personality characteristics to determine their likelihood for success in the profession. 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.

    Resources and Tips for Nursing Students

    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.