When applying to nursing school, candidates may need to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) as an admission requirement. While not all nursing schools expect applicants to submit TEAS scores, many do. Therefore, prospective students should prepare for the TEAS exam.
The TEAS exam evaluates whether students possess the academic skills to earn a higher education degree in the health sciences. The exam covers four basic general education areas: reading, math, science, and English and language usage.
Testing time takes 209 minutes, or about 3.5 hours, and comprises 170 questions, including 20 pretest sample questions. Only 150 questions are scored in total. The pretest questions are not scored.
About 40% of TEAS test-takers need to repeat the exam, according to ATI, the company that publishes and administers the TEAS. Even if you feel confident in these subjects, preparation is key. The harder that you study for the TEAS, the greater your chance for success as a first time test-taker.
“For some students, it may have been years since you’ve been immersed in these topics,” says Jannah Amiel, a registered nurse and nursing content manager at Osmosis.
“Even if you think the TEAS academic areas aren’t topics you struggle with, prepare anyway,” Amiel advises.
This guide offers useful tips on how to study for the TEAS exam, with expert advice from Amiel.
What Subjects are Covered in the TEAS Test?
Reading and science are the two biggest components of the TEAS exam, with a combined total of 62% of the test.
The Reading section evaluates concepts like:
- Identifying key ideas and details
- Craft and structure
- Integration of knowledge and ideas
- Pre-Test questions
Science includes content on:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Life and physical sciences
- Scientific reasoning
- Pre-Test questions
Mathematics comprises 21% of the TEAS. This section includes content on:
- Numbers and algebra
- Measurement and data
- Pre-Test questions
Finally, English and language use make up 17% of the test. Content evaluated includes:
- Conventions of standard English
- Knowledge of language
- Vocabulary acquisition
- Pre-Test questions
How to Study for the TEAS Test
You can find many ways to prepare for the TEAS test. You can come up with your own study plan that suits your schedule, or you can keep yourself on track with ATI’s provided study plan. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and focus on the subject areas where you struggle or have known weaknesses.
Many organizations provide published study guides and full-length practice exams to help students. You might find these TEAS test guides at your local or school libraries for free. More independent test-takers might prefer to read a study guide book and make their own flash cards.
In addition, students can take advantage of school resources. “I often recommend turning to your network of instructors or in-school student resource centers,” Amiel advises.
Amiel suggests looking for these services at your school or college: “For example, do any of your college instructors offer reading, math, science and English and language usage tutoring? Is there a student resource center that offers tutoring on these subjects?” Forming study groups is a great way to study!
Amiel adds that these resources are usually free for students.
No matter how you study, ATI recommends you dedicate at least six weeks of preparation for the exam. You can find additional study tips for online nursing students here.
5 Tips for Passing Your TEAS Test
How to Register for TEAS
Before registering for the TEAS, determine where and when you want to take the exam. You can choose from three different options: taking the test at school, through an online proctored test, or in person at a PSI Testing Center.
ATI Testing hosts two proctored tests, once in the morning and once in the afternoonIf you choose the online option, make sure you have a stable internet connection. Proctors watch test-takers through webcam and audio, checking for any unusual or erratic behavior while students work through the exam. Exam monitoring software may also be used.
If you prefer to take the exam in person, you can find PSI testing center locations here. Ask your institution whether they host the TEAS exam on campus as well.
Once you decide where you want to take the test, you can register for the exam online here.
TEAS Test Taking Resources
Students can take advantage of many resources to help them prepare for the exam. Some of these study aids come from ATI, while others come from independent test prep organizations.
To help you structure your study plan, you can use ATI’s free TEAS six-week study plan. This plan suggests weekly study topics and advises how many hours test-takers should dedicate to studying.
ATI also publishes several test preparation products, including practice assessments, study manuals, and tutorials. These range in price from $25-$189, and students can purchase these in bundles.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many times can you take the TEAS exam?
Each school sets its own limit for how many times students can take the TEAS and what an acceptable score looks like. However, the average student takes the test three times, according to ATI. Keep in mind that many schools employ a waiting period between exams.
Can the TEAS test be taken online?
ATI offers proctored online sessions. Make sure your school allows online exams before you sign up for a remote session.
How is the TEAS scored?
ATI uses a system called “equating” to score the TEAS test, which means questions are weighted. Test-takers do not know which questions are worth more points as they go through the exam, although some questions may seem harder than others.
What grade do you need to pass the TEAS?
Each school determines which score students need to earn a passing score. Check with your school for requirements.
What should I bring on test day?
Bring your ATI log-in information and two sharpened No. 2 pencils. Most importantly, remember to bring photo identification. Otherwise, the proctors will not let you into the exam room. If special accommodations are needed, it is important to notify the testing company in advance of your testing date or accommodations may not be granted.
Is there a break during the test?
You may take an optional 10-minute break after the math session of the exam.
Meet Our Contributor
Jannah Amiel, MS, BSN, RN
Jannah Amiel, MS, BSN, RN, is the nursing content manager at Osmosis. She received her MS in nursing, emerging nurse leaders track, from Florida Atlantic University and her BSN and ASN from Keiser University. Jannah’s clinical background is in pediatrics, specifically pediatric intensive care (PICU), pediatric emergency & level 1 trauma, and pediatric urgent care and school health. Eventually, she discovered her undying love for education, so she moved into nursing academia, where she became a director of nursing for several college nursing programs. Later, Jannah started TootRN™ (Tools of Our Trade, RN) LLC, where she prepares nursing graduates to take and successfully pass their NCLEX licensure exam. She also serves on the Florida Action Coalition, is a member of the Women’s Media Center, is a nursing education subject matter expert (SME), and sits on several nursing advisory boards.
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.