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 is 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 that 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. So 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. If you ever email me to ask me for something like that, I’ll politely tell you no and refer to to this previous blog post.
Now that we’ve got that little disclaimer out of the way…
Let me share a few of my observations and suggestions that I have for preparing for HESI A2. First of all, try to keep your anxiety in control. I was already an RN when I took the HESI A2, but I was still pretty nervous. After all, I tutor nursing students for a living, so I figured I had better pass the HESI A2 or I would lose all credibility! Luckily, I have a great test anxiety strategy that I used (the same one I teach to my nursing students through the PASS Program), and that helped me keep things in perspective.
Another great way to keep your anxiety under control is by knowing what to expect. There’s a lot of information (and misinformation) about the HESI A2 available online, but most of the information I’ve seen is very vague and nonspecific. Part of this is because every school uses the HESI A2 a little bit differently. Some schools require potential students to take all of the sections. Other schools only require the Math and Reading Comprehension sections. Make sure that you find out exactly which sections you will be required to take from the school you will be applying to. That way there won’t be any surprises for you on test day.
It’s also worth finding out if you’ll be taking the HESI A2 with other students, or by yourself. Some schools offer HESI A2 at specified times to a group of students, so you definitely have to arrive on time or early so you don’t miss it. Other schools (including the one I took my exam at) allow students to schedule an individual time to come in and take it by themselves, so they’re a little more flexible if you’re running a few minutes late.
Most of the information covered on HESI A2 is pretty basic concepts, but it may have been a long time since you reviewed these concepts. This is especially true if you’re a second career or returning student. You may not have done an algebra problem or reviewed the parts of speech since high school! So it is definitely worth purchasing the official HESI A2 review book just so you can see what types of topics to expect for each section, as well as a few sample questions. Don’t expect too much from this book though, it gives a decent overview of what the test is like and what types of questions to expect, but it is only a supplement for any other studying you might need to do to prepare. For example, if it’s been a few years since you took A&P, then you’ll need to dust off your old A&P book to help.
Make sure you start reviewing before the morning that you’ll be taking the test, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve used these skills. I put my review off until the last minute, relying on my tutoring experience to get me through. But then the morning of the exam I got nervous and pulled out the review book. Not my best example of good study habits! It also made me incredibly anxious to look through the Physics section and realize that I didn’t remember any of the standard equations they were using. Luckily, it turned out that the Physics section was not included on my school’s HESI A2 exam, so I never had to complete that section. Whew.
Arrive at the testing center plenty early. And I don’t mean pulling into the parking lot with 5 minutes to spare. A lot of times, this exam is given at the campus computer lab. If you’re not familiar with the campus, that can be a little tricky to find, so make sure you also leave yourself enough time to get a little bit lost while walking around. It’s better to get to the testing center too early and have to wait to begin, than to arrive late and feel rushed.
The night before the exam, make sure you’ve collected everything you will need to take the test. My testing center required me to bring a copy of the receipt for the purchase of the test (I had to pay on the Elsevier website in advance), a picture ID, my student number, and my Evolve/Elsevier login and password (Evolve/Elsevier is the company that creates the HESI A2).
What kinds of things do you find helpful to do to prepare for a standardized exam?
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Nicole Whitworth is the founder of Your Nursing Tutor. She has a BSN and an MA in Clinical Psychology, and has been a professional nursing tutor for over 12+ years. Nicole specializes in getting nursing students through school confidently and calmly so that everything finally “clicks”. She is also the creator of the Silver Bullet Study System, an easy-to-follow study method that automatically trains your brain to become a nurse at the same time that you study for your normal nursing classes.