Eight Tips on How to Study for the HESI Exam

how to study for the hesi exam

HESI is short for Health Education Systems Incorporated. This test is a series of exams that schools use to evaluate how competent you are in the content and courses found in several health science sectors. This is a computer-administered test that nurses schools use with a proctor overseeing it. So, how to study for the HESI exam?

Passing it can be a daunting challenge for anyone, but this is a necessary first step that will help you get into the nursing or healthcare program of your choosing. Before you feel the pressure, here are several helpful tips that can assist you in passing this exam and getting a solid score.


1Review the Exam Material

One of the most helpful things you can do for yourself is to understand exactly what the HESI exam covers. There are nine content areas with a grand total of 326 questions on the exam. You’ll have to complete 301 questions in four hours.

They are:

  • Anatomy and Physiology – Anatomical systems and structures with basic terminology.
  • Basic Math – Multiplication, subtraction, addition, fractions, decimals, general math facts, and measurements.
  • Biology – Cellular respiration, biology basics, biological molecules, cellular photosynthesis, cells, water, and metabolism.
  • Chemistry – Chemical equations and reactions, the periodic table, atomic structure, nuclear chemistry, and chemical bonding.
  • Grammar – Common grammatical errors, basic grammar, parts of speech, and terms and how to use them.
  • Learning Styles – Preferred learning styles
  • Personality – Personality profiles as they relate to the different learning styles.
  • Reading Comprehension – Identify main ideas, comprehend passages, and make logical references.
  • Vocabulary – Covers general knowledge and popular vocabulary you’ll find in the medical and healthcare fields.

2Take Practice Tests

There are many questions on the HESI exam that are very tricky, so it’s a good idea to brush up on your reading and comprehension skills, and take advantage of study apps and practice tests.

By regularly taking practice tests, you can familiarize yourself with the expected questions on the exam, get used to a timed testing environment, and assess how much more content you need to cover.

Pocket Prep has an affordable HESI Admission Assessment Practice test that comes with more than 1,400 practice questions in 8 content subject areas and customizable exams. The answer rationales and progress tracker are particularly helpful. The app is free to download and check out, then only $15/month for full access.

There are other app options if you look through your app store. However, all the legitimate apps require in-app purchases. If you need to pass the HESI exam, a small investment isn’t too bad if you can get a taste of the actual exam. Just make sure to choose an app that has good reviews. Try to avoid totally free apps because the content is usually redistributed illegally and is therefore outdated.

3Effectively Manage Your Time

During this exam, time management is everything. You want to start learning how to manage your time when you start taking practice tests effectively, so you don’t spend too much time on one particular section and run out on the rest. T

ry to attempt to answer the questions you are confident about first, and then you can go back and answer all of the other questions on the exam. Give yourself a maximum of 60 seconds per question. Just remember to go back and answer something if you skip it.

4There is no Pass or Fail

Unlike standard tests, there is no hard pass or fail limit with this exam. It has a scored scale that starts at 750 and goes up to 900.

Every school has a set score, and you want your score to be over it. Obviously, the closer to 900 you are, the better off you did. Aim high and don’t obsessively worry about passing or failing it. The final score is the average weight of all of your sections.

5Create a Study Schedule

One of the biggest tips you can take away from this article when you’re wondering how to study for the HESI exam is to set a solid study schedule. You never want to wait until the last minute to study. Once you pick a test date, draw up a study schedule. Make sure you have time for every section and take the night before the test to rest and get a solid night’s sleep.

6Create Vocabulary Flashcards

When you want to dig into the small details of the study concepts and vocabulary of the HESI exam, flashcards can help. They help you learn all of the small details one at a time that make up this exam, and flashcards are helpful for ensuring you remember more in the long-term. This is why they work so well for terminology and vocabulary. There are free apps that allow you to make flashcards too.

7Practice, Practice, Practice

If you have access to a practice HESI exam, take it. You can take it more than once. Doing so will give you a good idea of which areas are your strengths and which areas are your weakness. This way, you’ll know where to focus more of your efforts. Maybe you’re great at anatomy and physiology, but your math skills aren’t the best. If so, you’d spend more time on math than other sections. This can boost your confidence levels.

8Be Confident and Positive

This one may be more difficult, but your general attitude toward the HESI exam will play a role in how well you do. You want to be as confident and positive going in as possible because most colleges require you to score within the 75th or 80th percentile to gain entrance.

Never go in for an exam thinking that you will fail. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy and you would have lost even before it has started. Have a can-do attitude and a positive outlook.

Bottom Line

Now you know how to study for the HESI exam, and you can use these eight simple tips to prepare and boost your final scores. We suggest you try them all and see which ones work best with your learning styles. This way, you’ll go into the test confident and prepared.