Pre-Nursing Exams: What You Need to Know

NursingAugust 25, 2014

Most nursing schools require pre-nursing exams to see if the applicant has the necessary skills to succeed in nursing school. Scores are often considered part of the admission process, so prospective nursing students should be prepared to ace any of these tests. Here is a rundown of each test and how to succeed. Different nursing schools choose different tests for selection criteria, so find out which test is used for the programs that you are considering.


The Nursing Entrance Test, or NET, uses two main components to determine your score: math and reading (although some schools may require an additional essay question). The math on the exam is representative of standard high school level education and can involve relatively basic algebraic questions. The math information can be reviewed and practiced with the help of a quality review book, which your nursing school should recommend to you.

The reading comprehension portion, however, is notoriously challenging. You will be asked to read a passage and answer questions about the passage. These questions can range from basic to inferential, which requires practice to master. Also, if you regard yourself as a slow reader, one test-taking strategy that you can use is to read the questions first and skim the passage afterward to find the correct answers. The NET is a timed test, and many test takers have found time to be short during the reading portion.


The HESI A2 (Health Education Systems Inc. Admissions Assessment) tests prospective nursing students in the areas of math, reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. Unlike the NET, the HESI expects students to have a basic knowledge of information in the field of health as well as science-specific subjects. Each section is 25 questions; your score will be shown as you complete each section, and you will be issued your score as soon as you leave the room.

A review book can help you focus your study on the concepts that will be used on the test. If you still have them, you can use your old textbooks to review, as the test covers material you learned in your nursing prerequisite courses. Be sure to read each question carefully. A detailed breakdown of each section can be found and prove quite helpful in preparation.

The TEAS Test

The "Test of Essential Academic Skills" will cover reading, math, science and English. The test is administered by ATI, who also sell review books and online practice tests to help you prepare for the test. This review book contains the information that you may be tested on, as well as additional practice questions to improve your score. Special attention should be paid to studying the science portion, as this can cover a large variety of subjects. You will get about four hours to answer 150 questions, the majority of which are in science and reading.

All of these nursing exams require significant preparation. They are all computerized tests, so become accustomed to this format. Reviewing plenty of practice questions, studying the review books thoroughly, and being comfortable with the style of the exam will help you to succeed and achieve your dream of attending nursing school.

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