Our Guide to Passing Nursing School Entrance Exams

SimpleNursing Editorial Team Feb 4, 2022
Male and Female Nurse Working At Nurse's Station

Congratulations on your decision to become a nurse! Your next big step is passing a nursing school entrance exam.

As one of the most in-demand professions today, nursing offers almost certain benefits: guaranteed employment, flexible hours, plenty of options when it comes to specializations, and the opportunity to do important work that makes a difference in people’s lives.

Jump to Sections

  1. Nursing School Entrance Exams to Know
  2. Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)
  3. Health Education Systems Admissions Assessment (HESI A2)
  4. National League for Nursing (NLN) Pre-Admission Exam (PAX)
  5. Nursing Entrance Test (NET)
  6. Kaplan Nursing School Admission Test
  7. Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) Health Occupations Aptitude Exam (HOAE)

If you’re in the process of applying to nursing school, you have to pass some type of nursing school entrance exam. This means you’ll need to do well to be accepted into the program you want.

Overwhelmed by the entire process? No worries! We’ll explain some nursing school admission exams to be aware of and offer tips to help you pass your nursing entrance exam.

Nursing School Entrance Exams to Know

The exact entrance exam you’ll take depends on your degree and the program to which you’re applying — so it’s a good idea to do a little research beforehand.

Some schools may only require nursing school candidates to take a general healthcare admissions test, while others may use entrance exams tailored to the nursing profession.

nursing student

In addition, some tests may focus more on academic knowledge, while some balance academics with a personality assessment. The personality assessment predicts the likelihood of success in nursing school and a career in health care.

To get you started, we’ll explore six common nursing school entrance exams.

Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)

If you’re applying to an RN or LPN program, you might be required to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), especially if you’re applying to a fairly competitive undergraduate nursing program. 

The purpose of the TEAS is to evaluate whether you have the educational foundation to succeed in a health sciences program like nursing.

Who needs to take the TEAS?

The TEAS is designed for students going into any medical profession – from doctors, to EMTs, to dentists. This, of course, includes those going into LPN or RN programs.

How many questions are on the TEAS?

The TEAS consists of 170 multiple-choice questions total, with 20 unscored questions included. The exam tests your knowledge in these areas:

  1. Reading: 51 questions that test your ability to understand and interpret written passages, maps, and graphs
  2. Math: 42 questions covering algebra, geometry, statistics, and general problem-solving abilities
  3. Science: 56 questions about anatomy and physiology, life and physical sciences, and your ability to engage in general scientific reasoning

English language proficiency: 41 questions that test your vocabulary and your understanding of English language conventions.

What’s the time limit for the TEAS?

You have 209 minutes to complete the exam. Each area is broken down into its own time limits:

  1. Reading – 55 minutes
  2. Math – 57 minutes
  3. Science – 60 minutes
  4. English language proficiency – 37 minutes

How is the TEAS scored?

Test takers are given a total composite score based on correct answers. A passing score depends on your attending school, but it’s typically somewhere between 60% and 80%.

How much does the TEAS cost?

The cost also varies depending on the school, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $50-$115.

SimpleNursing’s TEAS prep ensures you get the help you need for even the most difficult topics covered by the exam.

Health Education Systems Admissions Assessment (HESI A2)

Nursing schools use The Health Education Systems Admission Assessment (HESI A2) in the student admission process to weed out possible poor-performing students. It measures the ability to read and understand information in-depth, along with writing skills.

HESI A2 also assesses learning style and provides a personality profile. The HESI exam covers knowledge in academic areas like high school-level science, math, and English. 

Who needs to take the HESI A2?

Anyone going through a nursing program (including LPN and RN) must take the HESI A2.

How many questions are on the HESI A2?

There are 326 questions total on the HESI A2, and is split into nine sections:

  1. Math: 50 questions
  2. Grammar: 50 questions
  3. Vocabulary: 50 questions
  4. Reading comprehension: 50 questions
  5. Biology: 25 questions
  6. Chemistry: 25 questions
  7. Physics: 25 questions
  8. Anatomy/physiology knowledge: 25 questions
  9. Learning styles and personality: 29 questions]

What’s the time limit for the HESI A2?

Test-takers have up to four hours to complete the HESI A2.

What is the passing score for the HESI A2?

A passing score for the HESI A2 is usually at least 75%, but that can depend on the specific school you’re testing for.

How much does the HESI A2 cost?

You can expect an exam fee between $30-$110, but varies by school.

National League for Nursing (NLN) Pre-Admission Exam (PAX)

Another common nursing school admissions test is the National League for Nursing (NLN) Pre-Admission Exam (PAX). It’s designed to test your knowledge of nursing topics and make sure that you have enough skills before entering.

Who needs to take the NLN PAX?

Any nursing student must complete the NLN PAX at schools offering degrees in nursing.

How many questions are on the NLN PAX?

The 160 multiple-choice questions take and are designed to test proficiency in aspiring LPNs and RNs in the following areas:

  • Verbal abilities: 60 questions covering reading comprehension, word knowledge, and the ability to properly complete sentences.
  • Mathematics ability: 40 questions covering decimals, percentages, integers, fractions, conversions, graphics, algebra, applied mathematics, and basic calculations.
  • Science understanding: 60 questions covering general science, as well as anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, and Earth science.

What’s the time limit for the NLN PAX?

Test-takers have up to 40 minutes per section.

How is the NLN PAX scored?

Similar to the TEAS, a passing score depends on the school, and there are some questions that won’t be graded at all.

How much does the NLN PAX cost?

The cost also varies depending on the school, but expect to pay an exam fee of $55 to $100.

nursing students learning from their lab

Nursing Entrance Test (NET)

The Nursing Entrance Test (NET) focuses on the skills needed to succeed in an LPN or RN program. Along with testing your knowledge of academic disciplines like math and reading, the NET helps schools assess other qualities that predict your potential for success in nursing school.

Given by the National League for Nursing, it is designed to evaluate your ability to succeed as a student nurse. This also includes your reaction under stress and your decision-making skills.

Who needs to take the NET?

Several schools make this exam mandatory for all nursing students.

How many questions are on the NET?

The NET consists of a total of 233 questions and is divided into six sections:

  1. Math: With 60 questions covering algebra, fractions, decimals, percentages, and number systems conversions
  2. Reading: With 33 questions designed to discern your reading level and command of English grammar — capitalization, pronoun case, punctuation, sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, etc. — and reading speed (a one-minute reading speed test is included)
  3. Learning style: With 44 questions designed to determine whether your dominant learning style is auditory, visual, social, solitary, etc.
  4. Social decisions: With 17 questions designed to assess how you react in different social scenarios
  5. Stressful situations: Consisting of 49 questions that predict how you cope with stress in academics, family matters, money and time management, social situations, and the workplace
  6. Exam-taking skills: Consisting of 30 questions that gauge your abilities to infer meaning, predict outcomes, and grasp the main idea of a passage.

What’s the time limit for the NET?

You have up to 155 minutes to complete the NET.

How is the NET scored?

A passing score for the NET is 65 on the math portion, and 55 on the reading portion. But passing scores for the other sections depends on the school. 

How much does the NET cost?

The cost of taking the NET varies by school – $50 at minimum.

Kaplan Nursing School Admission Test

Also known as the Kaplan Nursing School Admission Test, the Kaplan Nursing Entrance Exam measures performance and identifies gaps in academic disciplines. The test also evaluates your critical thinking skills, which can indicate how well you’ll perform as an LPN or RN student and in practice as a nurse.

Who needs to take the Kaplan Nursing Entrance Exam?

Anyone attending an RN or LPN or LVN program needs to take the exam for schools requiring it.

How many questions are on the Kaplan Nursing Entrance Exam?

The Kaplan Nursing School Entrance Exam covers four sections containing 91 total multiple-choice questions, 

Along with critical thinking, the 91-question exam tests your ability in:

  • Reading: The 22 questions in the reading section are designed to see if you can determine the logic and purpose of a passage, comprehend details, and draw basic inferences.
  • Math: Contains 28 questions covering basic arithmetic to algebra. These are used to measure your ability to apply mathematical principles with respect to conversions, operations, ratios, and word problems.
  • Writing: Test-takers read nine passages and then answer 21 questions. These are designed to determine whether they have the essential skills required for college-level writing, including story development, paragraph logic, and writing mechanics.
  • Science: The 20 science questions measure knowledge of physiology in the following areas:
    • Cardiovascular system
    • Electrolytes
    • Gastrointestinal system
    • Immune system
    • Neurology
    • Renal system
    • Hematological system
    • Homeostasis
    • Respiratory system
    • Sensory system

What’s the time limit for the Kaplan Nursing Entrance Exam?

You have up to 165 minutes to complete the Kaplan Entrance Exam.

What is the Kaplan Nursing Entrance Exam passing score?

A passing score is typically around 65%, but depends on the school you test for.

How much does the Kaplan Nursing Entrance Exam cost?

Cost also varies, but you can usually expect to pay an exam fee of $25 to $100.

Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) Health Occupations Aptitude Exam (HOAE)

Also known as the PSB Aptitude for Practical Nursing, the PSB HOAE is used to assess candidates for various healthcare-related academic programs and disciplines. You might be required to take this exam when applying to certain schools and programs.

The primary purpose of this test is to evaluate the candidate’s academic knowledge, skills, and abilities. While it doesn’t focus on personality traits per se, it does incorporate a vocational adjustment index to test behavioral traits. 

Who needs to take the PSB HOAE?

The PSB HOAE is mainly for those wanting to pursue a career in psychology, counseling, or social work, but also includes nursing students.

How many questions are on the PSB HOAE?

There are 305 questions total, which are split into these sections:

  • Academic Aptitude
  • Spelling
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Natural Sciences
  • Vocational Adjustment Index ]

What’s the time limit for the PSB HOAE?

You have two hours and fifteen minutes to complete the exam, and it is timed per section.

How is the PSB HOAE scored?

Schools typically rank completed PSB HOAE exams by percentile (on a curve). So if a majority of test-takers perform poorly on the exam, you could get away with more wrong answers. 

But if you get more correct answers, you could possibly score low if a majority of test-takers in your sessions perform better than you.

How much does the PSB HOAE cost?

The cost of the PSB HOAE varies by school, but expect to pay somewhere between $25-$60.

5 Tips for Passing Nursing School Entrance Exams

While there’s no substitute for knowledge when it comes to getting a passing score on your nursing admission exams, there are some tips and tricks that can help you prepare.

1. Know what to expect on the exam.

They say knowledge is power, and nothing could be more true when it comes to preparing for your nursing school entrance exam. Knowing as much as you can about the structure and content of the exam can go a long way in making sure you’re prepared. Be sure you know exactly what to expect, including:

  • The format of the exam (e.g., multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, essay, or a combination).
  • The topics that will be covered.
  • How many sections the test has and what subjects fall under which sections.
  • How much time you’ll have to complete each section.

2. Start studying early and plan.

Once you know the topics that are covered on the test, the test format, and how much time you have to complete the exam, you’re ready to create a study plan. 

Think about how long you have until the scheduled test date and which topics need the bulk of your attention. Then divide your time accordingly, devoting more time to your weaker subjects but still giving yourself enough time to review your stronger subjects.

nursing students studying for entrance exams

Most people find it helpful to map out a study schedule on a calendar, with reasonable and achievable goals for each study session.

Think about setting the same time aside each day to study. Set up rewards for yourself when you complete each study guide section, or successfully meet your study goals over a few days.

The idea is to start as early as possible and find a study rhythm that works for you and your schedule. Find a rhythm that you can commit to and keep up with until you actually sit for the exam.

nursing students studying for entrance exams

3. Study by your learning style.

Different people have different learning styles. For example, some people need to process information through hearing. These auditory learners thrive in lectures or reviewing recorded materials.

Visual learners, on the other hand, prefer reading and reviewing written materials. 

Kinaesthetic learners understand better with hands-on experiences when covering material. For example, many kinaesthetic learners use a trick to rewrite notes by hand or take notes while listening to a lecture or reading materials.

Some people perform their best when they have study partners or can work with others in groups, and some people excel as solitary learners testing their knowledge with flashcards.

There’s no right or wrong way to learn. What’s important is understanding your own learning style and using study tactics that can help you pass your nursing exam with flying colors.

4. Study practice questions.

When it comes to standardized testing, practice really does make perfect. So the more practice tests you take, the better you’ll do for the real thing. And for mock tests, you not only gauge your knowledge on substantive topics, but you also learn test-taking strategies like how to manage your time. 

You’ll figure out when to skim the answers before reading the lengthy essay, or how to skip difficult questions so you can return to them later.

5. Use the best exam resources.

While many exam prep companies tout their expertise in nursing school material, few focus exclusively on helping nursing school candidates succeed.

If you’re seeking a nursing education resource to support your success throughout your nursing career, a nursing school resource membership could be for you. 

Supplemental resources help you prepare for your admission exam, complete your nursing school courses, and pass your nursing licensure exam.

Get the Best Nursing School Entrance Exam Resources 

SimpleNursing is different from other nursing school resources. We provide full-spectrum testing achievement support, including a free TEAS prep course, and access to TEAS and HESI A2 practice questions, mock exams, and tutorials.

SimpleNursing supports nursing students with a robust knowledge base to draw from and exam prep throughout their academic programs. Our material goes right up to and including preparing them for graduation and post-graduate nurse licensing exams.

We’re a trusted resource for nursing students worldwide. In fact, over 1 million students have earned a 96% pass rate with the help of SimpleNursing.

Get into nursing school with the help of our free trial today.

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