So, what’s the HESI?

Hello, lovely readers! Did you enjoy time with family and friends this holiday season? Did you consume ample amounts of delicious food? Did you enjoy the brief winter weather in Georgia? I hope that you can say “yes” to at least one of those questions, but if not, don’t despair! I have another post for you–and this one is actually nursing-related.

As one of your pre-nursing requirements, you will need to take the nursing entrance exam, also known as the HESI or even  A2 (RN Admission Assessment). Already, if you haven’t yet heard of this, the words “entrance exam” may cause a few hairs to stand on end. However, there is little to fear with the HESI, especially if you are taking it for CSU. Typically, the HESI contains sections for basic math, reading comprehension, vocabulary and general knowledge, grammar, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and biology in addition to two ungraded sections that are meant to gain a better understanding of you as an individual (the Learning Styles assessment and Personality Style assessment). However, if you are taking the exam for entrance to CSU’s nursing school, you will only need to focus on the sections of math, reading comprehension, and grammar; all other academic subjects are excluded (though I recommend checking their website just in case this changes). For more information, you can access the webpage for CSU’s HESI here: However, some of the other major information to know is that you are given three-and-a-half hours for CSU’s HESI (and between four and six hours for other colleges’ HESI exams), have two attempts per year, and need a passing grade of 75 or higher. Additionally, the exam will cost $75 if you are taking it at CSU. 

So, would you like to hear some tips from someone who has taken the exam? (And remember that I can only share with you information that applies to CSU, so you may want to consider my information only a slice of your research-gathering. I also cannot disclose any specific questions from the exam of course–and I don’t even remember any at this point.) Firstly–and this is a huge reminder for any exam–you will need some form of identification, usually your driver’s license, present with you on your exam day. You should also arrive fifteen or more minutes early in case something goes wrong–and you may be invited to take the test early like I was. For my HESI experience, I first studied the math, reading, and grammar sections from my book (HESI Admission Assessment Exam Review, edition 4, published by Elsevier–though you may want to make sure this is the right book for you). I went through all of the reading and practiced every problem, marking and then redoing any math problems that I initially missed. I also practiced some problems from websites and made flashcards for the conversions. By far–and you will likely be told this by other students–the most important part of the math section is the measurement conversions (for temperature, length, volume and capacity, and weight and mass). These are useful to know for nursing and thus make up quite a few of the math problems. Additionally, a lot of the math is combined, so make sure that you know every form of problem well so that you don’t miss a problem because you were strong in one area but weak in another. A lot of the math will seem ridiculously simple, but I still recommend going through everything because if you know everything, great, it’ll only take you a few minutes or hours. But if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised by how much basic math you’ve gotten rusty on and need to re-learn. Another important section to know is military time–and this is also what you will be using as a nurse–but quite frankly, you should know everything in the math sections. Altogether, at the very least, this studying process will take a week or two–but again, this is for CSU, which requires that you know only three main subjects. 

As for the exam itself, even though you will feel the need to, don’t rush. I ended up taking around two hours for mine, and even then, I definitely could have slowed down more. One of the main reasons you will want to take your time with each problem is that you cannot return to any previous problems; you can only move forward. Also, don’t worry about taking a calculator with you to the exam, as an electronic one will be provided through the computer. In general, my test taking experience was smooth and relatively stress-free–though there was one point where my computer froze for a few minutes. As long as you prepare yourself for it and spread out your studying over several days before the exam, the HESI shouldn’t be a nightmare like it may seem (that’ll actually be NCLEX). Just remember to take it slow and not betray yourself with overconfidence. Even if it seems easy, you should put in the time to practice problems and prove that you know it. 

Hopefully, this post was helpful to you! (Maybe it calmed some nerves?) But even if not, feel free to dig around online for more information on the HESI, especially if you do not attend CSU. And remember this: your HESI brings you one step closer to being a nurse.


As always,

Nursing students unite!