What to Expect on the Different Nursing Entrance Exams

Students who want to become nurses will usually need to take nursing entrance examinations to determine if the student has the prerequisite skills and knowledge to succeed in nursing school. These examinations are often required for entering either an associate’s or bachelor of nursing. Program.

Scores on the nursing entrance exams are typically used as part of the admission process. So prospective nurses need to be well prepared to do well on these important exams.

Different nursing school use various nursing entrance exams to evaluate prospective students. There are currently three different examinations that most nursing schools use. Below are the most common tests nursing schools use, and points to consider about each as you prepare for them.

NET Entrance Test

The NET, or Nursing Entrance Test, is one of the most common nursing entrance exams used today. The NET exam has six parts in most cases, and it takes a total of 2.5 hours to complete for most students. The six parts are:

  • Comprehensive mathematics: Decimals, fractions, whole numbers, number system conversions, percentages, algebra. There are 60 questions and you have 60 minutes to answer them.
  • Reading speed: Your reading speed is timed on college level material. The test is one minute long, and the text is fixed.
  • Social decisions: You are presented with common nursing scenarios and have to decide the best way to respond. There are 17 questions and you have 15 minutes to answer them.
  • Reading comprehension: Checks your science reading ability; 33 questions to answer in 30 minutes.
  • Learning styles: There are 44 questions to answer in 15 minutes.
  • Stressful situations: 49 questions to answer in 15 minutes.
  • Exam taking skills: 30 questions to answer in 20 minutes.

The mathematics portion of the NET features questions that are similar to what you might find in high school mathematics and algebra classes. Students can study for the math portion of the NET with the assistance of study guides. Your nursing school should be able to recommend to you some of these guides.

HESI A2 Assessment

The HESI A2, or Health Education Systems Admissions Assessment, is a test for prospective nursing students in mathematics, reading, grammar, vocabulary, anatomy, chemistry, biology and physiology. This test differs from the NET in that the student is expected to possess knowledge in health and science. Each section of the HESI A2 is 25 questions long. Your score is indicated as you finish each section; you are given your final score when you have completed the test.

A study guide can help you to focus on the most important subjects that will be covered on the exam. Students who have taken the exam in recent years that the best study guide is produced by Elsevier, the company that actually writes the HESI A2 examination. They have said that the study guide covers exactly what is on the test.

Some other helpful tips from nursing students who passed the exam include:

  • For the mathematics section, it is important to know how to do conversions from English to metric measurements, and also from Fahrenheit to Celsius.
  • For the vocabulary portion, previous test takers report that the vocabulary tested is less about medical terminology and more about words that are used in everyday academia.
  • For anatomy and physiology, it is important to focus on broad anatomical concepts. This includes general anatomy, hormones and cellular transport. Think more generally about anatomy and do not get as focused on the minute details, and you should do well on this portion.
  • For critical thinking, you are given a variety of different scenarios you may see as a nurse. You are asked the best way to respond to the situation. Before you answer the question, it is recommended to identify what the most urgent problem is in the situation, and to select the best possible response that would treat that specific problem.

TEAS Academic Test

The TEAS test, or Test of Essential Academic Skills, covers reading, mathematics, science and English. The test is given by ATI, which also markets study guides and practice tests online to help you in preparation for the test. The study guides feature the information that is covered on the test, and there also are practice questions to help you to boost your score.

It is recommended that you pay close attention to the science section, as this can cover many areas. You have approximately four hours to answer 150 questions, and most of them are in science and reading.

The sections of this exam are as follows:

  • Reading: 64 minutes. Areas that are covered include understanding key ideas and details; craft and structure; integration of knowledge and ideas
  • Mathematics: 54 minutes. Areas covered include numbers, algebra, interpretation of data and measurements
  • Science: 63 minutes. Areas covered are human anatomy and physiology; life and physical sciences; and science reasoning
  • English: 28 minutes. Areas covered include standard English conventions; knowledge of the English language and acquisition of vocabulary

Nursing educators advise on the TEAS test to take advantage of the ample ATI resources to prepare for this exam. Their practice tests and study guides are especially useful.

It also is a good idea to take a few practice tests for the TEAS test as you begin your studying. You then know the areas where you are weak and what to study in the coming weeks. It also is advised to focus heavily on math and science in your preparation.


Remember that all of the above nursing entrance exams are rigorous tests and they each require ample preparation. Each test is given in computerized format, so you should be familiar with this format before you sit for the exam.

Whichever exam you take, it is advised that you review many practice examinations, study your study guides completely, and be comfortable with the exam format to ensure that you score well on the exam and are able to enter nursing school. Remember, the more practice examinations you take, the more likely that you will be well prepared for the exam.


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