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Common Questions About the NCLEX-RN® Exam

Interested in becoming a nurse? You’re definitely not alone this year: according to a recent article in U.S. News and World Report, some nursing schools ...

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FAQs About the HESI A2 Exam for Nursing Students

Posted Thursday, Sep 2, 2021 by Altierus

Looking into training to become a nurse? It’s likely you already know about the NCLEX-RN exam you have to take to obtain your license after you graduate. However, you may be surprised to learn that there’s an exam you have to take to get into nursing school in the first place: the HESI A2 exam.

The HESI A2 exam is one tool that helps our nursing program admissions team gauge the readiness of potential nursing students during the application process. In this article, we explain what the HESI A2 is, why we use it, and how you can prepare yourself for it.

What Is the HESI A2 Exam?

“HESI A2” stands for “Health Education Systems Incorporated Admission Assessment.” “Health Education Systems Incorporated” is the name of the company which produces the tests, while “Admission Assessment” is pretty self-explanatory: it indicates that this test is taken when a student applies for admission to the program.

Why Do I Have to Take the HESI A2 Exam?

The purpose of the HESI A2 is to gather information about your current knowledge around health science topics, general math skills, and language skills, including reading comprehension. It gives our admissions team insight into how well you are likely to handle the rigorous content nursing degree students need to assimilate nearly every day.

What Subjects Does the HESI A2 Exam Test?

The HESI A2 Exam is taken on a computer, and consists of 326 multiple-choice questions across nine possible subject areas:

  • Anatomy and physiology (approximately 25 minutes to complete)—What you know about the structure and function of the human body.
  • Basic mathematics (50 minutes)—Arithmetic, problem-solving, and other high-school level content.
  • Biology (25 minutes)—Your general understanding of cells and other life science topics.
  • Chemistry (25 minutes)—How different substances interact.
  • English grammar (50 minutes)—The structure of sentences and parts of speech.
  • Vocabulary and general knowledge (50 minutes)—This includes health science terms as well as general vocabulary.
  • Reading comprehension (60 minutes)—This provides further insight into your vocabulary while also testing your understanding of technical or academic writing.
  • Learning styles—These questions try to work out how you learn best (for example, through reading or listening).
  • Personality profile—These questions gauge whether you demonstrate the personality traits a nurse needs for success, such as compassion and an ability to remain calm under pressure.[1]

The complete HESI A2 exam takes about four hours to finish. However, not all schools require you to answer questions in each of the nine subject areas. At Altierus, for example, we require nursing students to take four sections: reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary and knowledge, and math.

What Is a Good HESI Exam Score?

It depends! Every school sets its own passing score for the HESI A2 exam. You are graded on each section of the test and also given an average score for all the subject areas you take. At Altierus, we require prospective nursing students to achieve a score of at least 75% in each subject area.

How to Study for the HESI A2 Exam

You will want to take the time to prepare for the HESI A2 Exam. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you study, especially in the form of practice exams.

Taking practice exams will help you:

  • Understand the types of questions and the question format
  • Learn to budget the time you spend on each question
  • Work out where your strengths and weaknesses are
  • Build your confidence so you’re ready for the real thing

Some practice tests are free, and some will cost money to take. You can also find study guides and videos full of study tips from nursing students who passed the HESI A2. Take it seriously, practice more than once, and you should be ready to tackle this first challenge on the way to your nursing degree!

Get Ready for a New Career Path in Nursing

Find out how our Associate of Science in Nursing program can prepare you to become an RN and help care for patients. Contact Altierus Career College in Tampa today!


[1] https://study.com/academy/popular/passing-the-hesi-a2-nursing-exam.html

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