So now that you know a little more about the HESI (and if you don’t, I recommend you go back and read this first), what do you need to do to be successful on the HESI exit exam?
Start by calming down! You can’t cram for the final HESI in a single night; a whole week wouldn’t even be enough! It takes years…but you’re not as behind as you think you are. After all, you started preparing for HESI on your first day of nursing school! Everything you’ve learned up to this point has been preparing you for this moment. In reality, you actually started preparing even before nursing school, on the first day you walked into your A&P or Microbiology pre-requisite. Or Patho. Or Intro to Health Sciences, even! You get the idea.
Yes, I’m saying it. Stop whining about how unfair it is that you have to pass the HESI in order to graduate (if that’s the rule at your school). Your nursing school is not going to suddenly decide to drop their HESI requirement simply because you and your classmates complained a lot. All you’re going to get by complaining about this is hypertension and a negative attitude. You can argue all day long whether or not it’s a fair, but in the end you’re still going to have to take your HESI. It is what it is. Make your peace with it and move on.
Then, if you still think the policy’s unfair after you’ve passed the HESI, you can talk to the faculty. Look at it from their perspective; who would they be more likely to listen to? 1) The student who passed HESI and thinks the policy is unfair? Or 2) the student who failed HESI and thinks the policy is unfair? Which student would you be more likely to take seriously?
Use the HESI review book
So how do you actually study for HESI? When I was preparing for my HESI, I used this book: Evolve Reach Testing and Remediation Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination (Evolve Reach Testing & Remediation Comprehensive Review) (Also check out the Resources page for more up-to-date editions and recommendations)
That title is quite a mouthful. And to be completely honest, I didn’t use this exact version, I used the previous edition. But typically each edition is pretty much the same. The thing I like about this book is that it’s published by the makers of HESI, and contains several practice HESI exams on the included cd-rom. There’s only going to be one practice exit exam, but there will also be some practice specialty exams such as Pediatrics and Psych included. So it’s really a good idea to get this book early in your nursing program, especially if you will be taking the specialty exams at the end of each semester.
The authors recommend that you take each practice exam at least twice. The 1st time, you should take it as though it were a real exam. When you are finished, you can review ONLY your incorrect answers and rationales. The 2nd time you take it, they recommend you get every answer WRONG on purpose. This way, you will have the opportunity to review ALL the rationales, even for the questions that you got right the first time. It’s a great way to review!
Did I Mention Calm Down…
…because it’s really important. Too many nursing students allow their anxiety to interfere with their ability to take the HESI, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. The more you worry about it, the less you’ll study, the less you’ll retain, and the harder it will be to concentrate. Then, on test day you will be so sure that you are going to fail that you either rush through the test, or spend waaay too much time on the first few questions. In either case, you end up proving yourself right, and you’ll fail.
So please calm down. You’ll get through this. Many students before you have been successful on HESI, and you can be to. Just stay focused and study. Get help with your weak areas, but don’t forget to review your strong areas too.
And make sure to celebrate when you see that passing HESI score!