The best defense is almost always a good offense, so start preparing for HESI A2 by gathering as much information as you can. Go to the school you are applying to and find out:
- Can I take HESI A2 anytime, or only on certain dates?
- How many times am I allowed to take HESI A2?
- If I am allowed to retake the exam, is there a waiting period between attempts?
- Do I have to pay to take the exam?
- Are all sections of the exam required?
- Do I have to take the HESI A2 for every nursing school I apply to?
Can I take HESI A2 anytime, or only on certain dates?
The HESI A2 is a proctored exam, which means it has to be administered under supervision. Sometimes that supervision can be arranged at the school’s testing center or with nursing faculty, but sometimes it might require you to go to a professional testing center like you will when you’re ready to take NCLEX. Some schools might allow students to take HESI A2 on any date that’s convenient, others require all applicants to take the entrance exam at the same time. Know what to expect from your school so that you can plan accordingly.
How many times am I allowed to take HESI A2?
All schools are going to have a different requirement. Some give you an unlimited amount of attempts, although there may be a waiting period, which I’ll talk about in a moment. Other schools might only let you take it once or twice. Check with the nursing school you’re applying to in order to find out what their policy is.
If I am allowed to retake the exam, is there a waiting period between attempts?
Many schools might allow you to attempt the HESI A2 multiple times, but require a waiting period between attempts. For example, a school might say that you can only take the entrance exam once every six months! Although it can be frustrating for a student who wants another chance, there’s actually several very good reasons for the schools to require this.First, there are only a limited number of versions of the HESI A2. Even if your school has access to all versions of the exam (most don’t), eventually you might have to retake a version you’ve already taken, so you’d be familiar with the questions already. Obviously, that could skew your exam results. A waiting period makes it less likely that you’ll take the exam that many times, and also makes it more likely the even if you get the same test versions that you’ll forget the exact questions that you saw previously. This last point is especially important for the schools that only have access to one version of the HESI A2 exam!
Another reason that a waiting period is often required is because it gives you adequate time to study before retaking the exam. If you were to retake the exam the next day, or even a week after your first attempt, that’s really not enough time to do the preparation you need to improve your score.
A final reason for a waiting period is money. The HESI A2 exam is not free! The Nursing school has to purchase it from the company that created it, and they have to purchase one test for each student. Usually, these tests must be purchased in “packages” in order to get a better deal. This is one reason why some schools may have several different versions of the HESI A2 available, while another school only has one. Each version is a separate purchase for the school, so they can’t afford to pay for students to retake the entrance exam over and over again. Of course, many schools pass part or all of that expense on to the student, which leads me to the next question…
Do I have to pay to take the exam?
Some schools allow you to make your first HESI A2 attempt for free, while many others make the student pay part or all of the cost. If your school lets you take it for free, consider yourself lucky! After all, high school students are expected to pay for their own SAT tests, so having a school pick up the tab for an admission exam is actually unusual. Most often, you will be required to pay to take the exam, and I’ve seen the cost range anywhere from $25 on up to $90, depending on the school.
If you do happen to be one of the lucky students who gets to take HESI A2 for free, just keep in mind that if you end up having to retake it then you will most likely be required to pay out-of-pocket for any additional attempts.
Are all sections of the exam required?
The HESI A2 actually consists of eight sections: Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, Grammar, Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, and Physics. Don’t freak out yet, though, because not all schools require all sections. It’s pretty much a guarantee that every school will want to see your Reading Comprehension and Math scores, but almost every other section is up for grabs. And many (but not all) also require an Anatomy and Physiology score. The other sections are really up for grabs depending on the school, so make sure you find out exactly what you should be studying for.
Do I have to take HESI A2 for every nursing school that I apply to?
Nope! Since HESI A2 is a standardized test, you can use the same score to apply to several different schools. But if you choose to go that route, you need to be careful to make sure that you still meet the requirements for each school.
So make sure that you find out which sections of the HESI A2 each school requires so that you can take a version of the entrance exam that uses all of the sections that are needed. It would be a huge bummer to have to retake the entire exam simply because you only took the Reading Comprehension and Math sections, then found out that one of your schools requires Anatomy and Physiology!
Also be aware that each school has a time limit for how old the HESI A2 score can be in order to count for your current application. This is similar to the guidelines that many nursing schools use in order to decide if your science prerequisites were taken recently enough. So if you want to apply to a school using your HESI A2 score from last year, don’t just assume it’s okay…make sure you find out what their time limits are.
Got any questions I didn’t cover yet? Leave them in the comments section below!