Health Education Systems, Inc Exam (HESI) A2

The HESI exam is only administered by computer. It is commonly used by nursing schools but can be used for different purposes. Some use it as an entrance exam while others use it as an exit exam to help determine the likelihood of passing the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) exam. No matter how or why it’s given, the format is the same.

Exam Structure

There are a total of 10 sub-tests  Two of the ten sub-tests  personality and learning styles, are not counted in your final score, but help determine how you will perform in the program. Seven are based on high-school level learning in math, science and verbal knowledge. The physics sub-test is only administered to radiography students, so you probably won’t have to take all 10 sub-tests  Because there are so many sub-tests  programs can choose which ones they want to use for their exams. This could work in your favor. Most of the time you can complete a section even if it is not required by the school and it will count toward your total score. So if you are really good in one of the areas, you can answer those questions even though it is not required. For example, if you have recently completed a course in anatomy and physiology, you can answer those questions and hopefully increase your overall score. But if you are not confident with your knowledge, don’t go after more questions on a gamble that more is better chances. One of the reasons the HESI A2 is so popular with nursing schools is that it is so customizable.


Questions include basic math problems like addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, decimals, ratios, proportions and measurements. No calculators are allowed, but the computer program used for the test includes a basic calculator (so why can’t you just use your own?? Go figure!). Every school has different scoring requirements. Generally, most schools require at least a 75% score. Included in the English language section are reading comprehension, vocabulary, general knowledge and grammar. In addition to reading comprehension questions, you will be performing tasks like defining words, determining the logical conclusion and finding the main idea of a passage. Vocabulary and general knowledge questions are multiple choice and focus on words commonly used in health care. The first time the HESI A2 is taken is when the learning style, decision-making skills and personality traits are usually included. Remember that these topics are not scored, but the results will give you tips on how to improve your study habits. Schools can decide how long to allot for the test, but the average time to complete is two to three hours. Fees vary from school to school from $40-$90. You can only take this test twice.

Written by

Kelli Wilson RN, BSN

Kelli has over 16 years experience as an RN. During that time she has had hands on clinical as well as management experience.