Nursing School Entrance Exams: Tips & My Experience

Nursing School Entrance Exams: Tips & My Experience

There are many hoops that you’ll need to jump through to get accepted into nursing school. A good grade point average, an in-person interview, and nursing entrance exams are a few of the common requirements for most nursing schools. This article will break down the different types of nursing entrance exams, some tips for preparing, and my experience taking the TEAS exam.


Nursing school entrance exams
Sophia M.


July 6, 2022

Types of Nursing Entrance Exams

Nursing schools will vary as to what exactly you need to do to get in, but there is a good chance that you will need to take some type of entrance exam. Therefore, it is important to have some understanding of the various types of nursing entrance exams and what they require.

Depending on which nursing schools you plan on applying to, the entrance exam that you are required to take will vary. Many aspiring nursing students apply to multiple universities, so being aware of the different types of entrance exams can be helpful, given that you may have to take more than one before getting accepted into a program. 

Many people wonder whether nursing entrance exams are required by every program. Although there are nursing schools without entrance exams, it is very rare, so it is best to plan on taking entrance exams to increase your odds of getting into a nursing program. Below, we’ve outlined a few of the most common nursing entrance exams and what to expect from each one. 

National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Exam (PAX)

The PAX exam is one of the most common nursing school entrance exams. This exam is split into three parts – reading comprehension, math, and science – and consists of 160 multiple choice questions. Test takers have two hours and five minutes to complete the test. 

Nursing Entrance Test (NET)

If your nursing school requires the Nursing Entrance Test (NET) for admission, you’ll be required to answer questions that evaluate your mathematical skills, reading speed, learning style, social decision making, and your ability to respond to stressful situations. You’ll be given 155 minutes to complete this exam. 

Test of Essential Academic Skills Exam (TEAS)

Another common nursing entrance exam is the TEAS Exam. This test has four sections including reading, math, language use, and science. Test-takers are given 209 minutes to complete this 170 question exam, which covers high school-level knowledge such as algebra, vocabulary, and physical sciences. 

Health Education Systems, Inc. Admissions Assessment (HESI A2)

The HESI A2 exam has nine sections that cover biology, chemistry, grammar, reading, and math. This exam also draws on high school-level knowledge, as many of the entrance exams do. 

PSB Registered Nursing School Aptitude Exam

The PSB Registered Nursing School Aptitude Exam is designed specifically for nursing students who plan to attend an RN program. This test consists of 360 multiple choice questions, offers a 105-minute testing window, and has five sections. The sections cover: academic aptitude, spelling, reading, science, and a vocational adjustment index. 

PSB Health Occupations Aptitude Exam

This nursing entrance exam may be used for a variety of healthcare programs, including those who are pursuing a career as a registered nurse. The PSB Health Occupations Aptitude Exam assesses the test-takers’ knowledge in reading comprehension, spelling, math, and natural sciences. This exam also assesses personality traits and behavioral characteristics.

Preparing for Nursing School Entrance Exams

If you’re getting ready to apply to take your entrance exams for nursing school, there are a variety of ways to prepare. I recommend looking into resources your university offers, taking practice tests, and estimating the cost of the exams ahead of time. 

University resources

Some universities will offer testing resources such as courses to help prepare students. Look into what your university offers if you’re applying for a program at the university that you’re already attending. I was required to take the TEAS exam for my nursing program and because I was already a student at the school I was applying to, I was able to complete a TEAS exam preparation course that really helped me with testing strategy. 

Study books and practice tests

Practice tests are an invaluable resource when it comes to preparing for nursing school entrance exams because they offer nursing admission assessment examples and practice questions. Once you’ve determined which test you’ll need to  take, you can get a study book for that exam and start delving into the material. You’ll want to dedicate plenty of focused, independent study time to preparing for these exams, because they often cover material that test takers haven’t seen since high school (such as algebra and long division). 

Practice tests are a great way to prepare because you can practice sitting for the given amount of time and gauge how far you get, which will help guide your studying. If you’re having a hard time staying focused during the time it takes to complete a practice test, you’ll know you need to prepare a bit more. Also, you can look at how you score on the practice tests to determine which specific sections need more work and which ones you feel confident in. 

The Cost of Entrance Exams

Something important to note is that these entrance exams will cost money and you’ll need to be prepared for that.

Although I wouldn’t recommend signing up to take your exams until you feel fully confident in the testing material, there is a good chance you’ll still want to take your exams more than once to get the highest score possible.

I will be the first to admit that I took the TEAS exam many times to get the highest score I could. My score went up after my first few retakes, and then when it plateaued, I knew I’d reached my highest possible score and decided to use that score to apply for nursing school. This is also a good reason to start taking your entrance exams well before it is time to apply to nursing school, so that you can have plenty of time to retake exams if you want to. 

Most nursing entrance exams cost between $25 and $70 each time you take them, and this price will quickly add up when you’re retaking the test often. I can’t speak for all nursing programs, but my nursing program allowed students to retake the TEAS exam as many times as they felt necessary, taking only the highest score of all attempts. Because the program was incredibly competitive, I heard plenty of stories of students taking the test over and over again to get their highest possible score. 

For this reason, you’ll want to plan ahead for the financial investment that entrance exams will require, especially if you’re already on a budget. Keep in mind that this is an investment into your future and the money spent is well worth it. Try to find as many free or low-cost preparation materials as you can to lower your spending on entrance exams because the testing books and practice tests are also an additional cost. Luckily, there are plenty of resources that fit this bill.

My Experience Taking the TEAS Exam

The nursing program I applied to required the TEAS Exam for admission. This exam was definitely a challenge and it required plenty of preparation. Back when I took it, calculators were not allowed, and part of the math section covered long division. This required me to review material I hadn’t even thought about since high school. I also found the science section to be particularly challenging because it covered topics relating to Anatomy and Physiology and Chemistry (two subjects I have struggled with in the past). 

I prepared with university resources and a test booklet. I delved into every section of the exam by slowly moving through my test preparation book and completing practice questions along the way. The testing book I purchased came with a few practice tests, so I would take a practice test, evaluate where I needed to study more and then take another practice test when I felt ready. The practice tests were a huge help because it got me used to the feeling of sitting and staying focused for the full amount of time it would take to complete the actual exam. 

After a few test attempts, I finally got a score I was happy with. Rest assured, not everyone has to take their entrance exams as many times as I did. Since I wasn’t accepted into nursing school on my first try, I spent extra time preparing for my second application attempt and chose to take the exam many times to get the highest possible score. Some students only have to take their entrance exams once to reach a score they feel happy with.

We've been there.
We get it.

Don’t have a clue what to expect in nursing school? Terrified of clinical?

Nurse Liz has spent years troubleshooting the challenges of nursing school for her social media community. Get her proven strategies and inside tips for every step of nursing school. 

Lecturio's Anatomy Course with Prof. Pickering

Further Reading

Nursing school is an intense experience in and of itself, but the screening process begins before you even start your ...
Is nursing school hard? That’s the big question everyone asks when looking into becoming a nurse. ...
After receiving your acceptance letter, it is easy to feel like you are practically already there. However, the path to ...

User Reviews