HESI A2 wasn’t a requirement when I applied to my nursing school, but it has become a much more popular exam to use since then. I’ve gotten so many questions about it over the years that I decided it was time for me to discover first-hand what it was like. So I registered to take it earlier this year, and I’m going to share my insights and suggestions about how to prepare to take each section of the HESI A2 over a series of blog posts.
First off, if you’re new to Your Nursing Tutor, I’m going to tell you right now that I think maintaining honesty and integrity are two of the most important things you need to do as a nurse. And that includes not cheating on tests for any reason when you are a student nurse. Therefore, I will never share specific test questions that I’ve seen on standardized tests, and I am not interested in buying or selling test banks for exams or textbooks. And if you ever email me to ask me for something like that, I’ll politely tell you no and refer to this article.
Now that we’ve got that little disclaimer out of the way, how long do you need to take the HESI A2? Let’s just say that you’ll be better off if you leave yourself plenty of time! In fact, don’t schedule anything else for later that day if at all possible. I’ve always been a pretty good test taker, and in the past I’ve typically finished other standardized exams using much less than the recommended time. However, my school allowed up to 4 hours to take the HESI A2, and it took me a solid 3 hours once I actually got started. Add to that the time it took for me to park, find the computer lab on campus, check-in with the test administrator…and deal with the unforeseen technical glitch that almost ruined my day.
Dealing with Technical Problems
After getting all set-up and ready to start at the testing center, I looked at my first question and quickly realized that the font size on the computer screen was much larger than normal. To the point that I had to literally scroll each question both vertically AND horizontally to read it. Needless to say, it can be very distracting and difficult to stay focused when trying to read this way. I notified the test center administrator, who wasn’t able to fix the problem while my exam was in progress. She instructed me to select the option to pause and leave the test, and then she corrected the font size for me.
But when we went to restart my exam…it wouldn’t allow me to log back in to finish!!! In fact, it told me that my exam was already ended!
I want to point out that my anxiety levels could have gone into orbit at this point. After all, I had only answered one question! But since I have a proven strategy to keep my test anxiety under control (which I teach through the PASS Program), it was just a mild annoyance while I sat and waited for the test center administrator to figure out how to solve this new problem. Common sense told me that since I hadn’t done anything wrong, then I would eventually be able to continue the test. It was only a matter of time. Luckily, common sense won out over anxiety, and I waited patiently and politely.
It took two test administrators, many failed login attempts, and a phone call to Evolve/Elsevier before the test center was finally able to regain access to my HESI A2 exam. The entire fiasco took close to an hour, so there’s another very good reason to leave yourself plenty of time to take the exam (remember, it still took me an additional 3 hours to complete HESI A2 after that technical glitch).
I can’t imagine what kind of horrible state of mind I would have been in if I had to be somewhere else, like work or class, at a certain time shortly after the exam. I definitely would have had a lot of extra stress, which I’m sure would have affected my performance on the HESI A2.
So, exactly how much time will it take once you get started?
Obviously, the exact amount of time it will take you will vary a little from person to person. One thing that can influence how long the HESI A2 will take for you is which content sections your school requires you to take. My school administered all of the content sections except Physics. But each individual section is not timed, just the test as a whole. So you can spend as much time as you like on each individual section, as long as the total time is less than what your school allows. Just to give you an idea of how to allocate your time, this is the number of questions I had for each section:
– Mathematics: 50 questions (took me 39 min 43 sec)
– Reading Comprehension: 50 questions (took me 37 min 7 sec)
– Vocabulary: 50 questions (took me 12 min 52 sec)
– Grammar: 50 questions (took me 21 min 21 sec)
– Biology: 25 questions (took me 18 min 13 sec)
– Chemistry: 25 questions (took me 11 min 45 sec)
– Anatomy and Physiology: 25 questions (took me 8 min 45 sec)
– Physics: (Not sure since my school didn’t offer this section)
– Critical Thinking: 25 questions (took me 23 min 7 sec)
– Personality Profile: 12 questions (took me 1 min 58 sec)
– Learning Styles: 14 questions (took me 2 min 47 sec)
The sections with heavy amounts of reading (such as Reading Comprehension) and the sections that contain 50 questions take the most amount of time and focus, so make sure you plan accordingly as you’re going through the test.
If you’ve already taken HESI A2, how long did the exam take you to complete?