FAQs about HESI A2

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!


  1. CK says

    What is a good percentage score to make on the HESI A2? I mean being that you don’t score extremely high but high! Thanks!

    • says

      It really depends on the school, as each school sets its own guidelines (and depending on how well the other applicants do, too!).

      However, according to the HESI A2 score report that you receive after completing the test, a 75%-79% is considered “Satisfactory,” 80%-89% is considered “Very Good,” and 90%-100% is considered “Excellent.” Anything under 74% is labeled as “Needs Improvement.”

      You get a separate score for each section, so it also depends which section your school values more highly (i.e. A&P versus Math, etc). But in general, I would say that 80% or higher is usually “safe” as far as a respectable score.

    • Dale says

      I scored a 90% on the HESI, is there any reason for me to re-take it and try for a better score? I heard that 90-100% gives you 5 points towards the nursing program total? Is this true?

      • Dale says

        I only had 4 days to study for the test due to what I thought was a deadline for the nursing program, so I know I could score better, I just want to know whether there’s any advantage to me re-taking it or not. Thank you to anyone that gives me the answer to this.

    • says

      You usually get them immediately, as you finish each section of the test. For example, when you complete Math you’ll see your score for that part, then when you complete Reading Comprehension you’ll see your score for that part. Don’t let that distract you as you’re taking the exam!

      It might be possible for schools to hide the scores until you’re finished (or until you receive your full score report at a later date), but when I took HESI A2 I was able to see my score after each section.

      Then 24 hrs to several weeks later, you’ll also have your full score report posted into your Evolve account online, so even if your school is able to hide the scores from you when you take the exam, you will eventually get to see all of your results.

  2. Amy Jones says

    I took the hesi little over 3 yrs ago, I am changing schools and have been out of the program for 2 yrs almost. Do I have to take it again?

    • Nicole says

      Hi Amy,
      It really depends on the school that you are applying to, as each school sets their own guidelines for any admission exams. Chances are that you will have to retake it, though, because the most common policy I have seen is that the HESI A2 score must be less than 1-year old. But as I mentioned, that can vary by school.

  3. jon baker says

    hello, im trying to go to school in texas but right now im stationed in calif with my spouse. can i take the hesi at any college that does not require me to be a student there? it seems that the colleges require me to be a student in order to take the test. since it is a standardize test surely there is some where i could go, right? thanks for the help.

    • says

      That’s a good question. I would contact the school you want to apply to and ask them the best way to go about that. I know that when you register to take the HESI A2, you have to enter a payment code that is specific to the school. That payment code helps make sure that the results are sent to the correct school, but I’m not sure of the details beyond that. Let me know what you find out!

  4. DC says

    I have noticed that some nursing programs require the HESI A2 and others the TEAS V. I have also heard that the TEAS V is more difficult. If you have studied and taken the TEAS V once for one university but the HESI is required for another university I plan to apply to, is the TEAS V sufficient study material to take the HESI A2 or purchase the study material for the HESI also?

    Thank you for your time.

    • says

      The two exams are very similar in that they both cover many of the basic skills and knowledge that you will need to have a good foundation in before starting nursing school. I would think that there would be a lot of overlap, especially since the goal of both tests is the same.

  5. jmcutrer says

    is there a penalty for incorrect answers on the Hesi A2, or should i just guess on any unanswered q’s when time is running out?

  6. says

    You will not get points for an incorrect or unanswered question, but there is no penalty. So it would be better to guess unanswered questions when time is running out rather than just leaving them blank. However, the best strategy of all would be to practice so that you pace yourself to have time to answer all of them before time runs out :)

  7. nancy k says

    The score to pass is 75% or above. Is the 900 score totals from the 5 sections of the hesi test required to pass? How many questions can you miss on the HESI test?! Im so nervous!

  8. LYN says

    I have written the hesi entrance exam twice and I got a 74% on the grammar. can I retake it again or do I have to wait for two years before I can retake it.

  9. Haley says

    I took the hesi for the nursing program, it required Reading comprehension, vocabulary and mathematics. I made a 90 on the math section and 83’s on the other 2. Am I allowed to only retake the reading comprehension and vocabulary? Or would I have to retake the entire 3?

  10. Eliene says

    Hi I need help ” I fail the hesi entrance exam twice and I have a last chance now next month . I study everything and I was cry confident but nothing. My school doesn’t allow scratch paper for math section which is ridiculous have to calculate problems with your head but even that I git 80% on math , 80% on sciences but grammar and vocabulary 70% . I

  11. rico hernandez says

    I took the HESI a couple of days ago and failed. I was told by the supervisors there that because I passed and scored pretty high on some of the materials (critical thinking, math, vocab., and grammar) I may not have to retake them again. My real question is, do they count your highest grade from each material that you passed or does it not matter. A nurse told me that’s how it is generally.

  12. Harry Hambonne says

    I have a question not a comment.
    I have searched the web to find one and one thing only: What are the steps from a (A to B )( from start to finish ) to become an RN via an Associates Degree from a Community College. ? The BSN can easily come after.
    I understand so far: One must pass the HESI2 Exam and have a score which is acceptable to the College Ione seeks to attend.
    What are the Exact subjects one has to study to be able to take the HESI2 Test?

  13. Harry Hambonne says

    It seems to me that so many of you folks are seeking to become RN’s but instead of putting your nose to the study grind stone and seeking to ace every test some of you seem to be seeking short cuts!
    That is very scary because would you want to be treated by a Nurse who barely scraped through the classes and the exams? That Nurse passed but was last in every class? Stop seeking shortcuts and get your nose to the study grind stone and seek to ace every test and you shall have no problems and if you cannot stand the fire of “grind stone study” just get out of the Kitchen!
    I am age 68 and I am going to become a Nurse! I had a career in Construction Project Management and I shall now begin a career in Nursing as a Diabetic Educator. Now get off your shortcut behinds and hit the study grind!

  14. Maida says

    Hello all,
    I think it’s unfair for you to tell people that they’re taking the easy way out. Some people like myself have been in school part time because I have to support myself and my son and it’s been years in between that I’ve taken math.
    This isn’t a test ABOUT nursing, because if it was then your comment is valid. However, this is a test on so called basic school stuff but some people have English as a second language-therefore the English part will be difficult for them. And others like myself, math isn’t their strong suit.
    Have compassion for those who are eager and have anxiety in taking this test. I am currently preparing for the exam and it
    Hasn’t been easy. I urge you all to rent the HESI ADMISSION ASSESSMENT EXAM REVIEW EDITION 3 . You can rent it off amazon.com .
    I wish you all good luck now and in your future!

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