Dr. Jan Olson By: Dr. Jan Olson

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Nursing school is a rigorous endeavor, but before you get in, you will likely have to take and pass an entrance exam. The two main tests that are used are the HESI (Health Education Systems Incorporated) and the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills).

While the goal of the exams is similar, there are differences between HESI and TEAS. Which one you take depends on your institution’s requirements. Regardless, it’s important to brush up on both exams. We will review HESI vs TEAS in this guide.

Summary: Learn about the difference between HESI and TEAS exams. For more help, consider using our TEAS practice tests or HESI practice tests.

The HESI is the more comprehensive exam of the two. It assesses you on eight academic subjects, and two “personality” categories (these don’t affect your official score).

The HESI academic categories you may be tested on are as follows:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Grammar
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Vocabulary
  • Physics

*We say “may be tested on” as each school or program can choose which subjects to include on their exam.

Below is a quick guide to the subjects that will most likely appear in each section of the HESI.

HESI Sections Time Limit # of Questions
Anatomy & Physiology 25 minutes 30
Biology 25 minutes 30
Chemistry 25 minutes 30
Grammar 50 minutes 55
Math 50 minutes 55
Reading 60 minutes 55
Vocabulary 50 minutes 55
Physics 50 minutes 25

The TEAS is designed to be a more general assessment of your basic knowledge, and consists of four sections:

  • Science
  • Math
  • Reading Comprehension
  • English language

Similar material will appear on both tests - the main difference is the length and number of questions.

Below is a breakdown of what you can expect on the TEAS:

TEAS Sections Time Limit # of Questions
Science 60 Minutes 50
Math 57 Minutes 38
Reading 55 Minutes 45
English language 37 Minutes 37

Our Recommended Prep Course

If you are serious about passing either the HESI or TEAS, consider using one of our recommended prep courses:



The HESI is the longer of the two exams at 350 questions spanning about four hours. The TEAS contains 170 questions and takes three and a half hours to complete.

During the exam, you’ll be given short breaks periodically to have a snack and use the restroom. Keep in mind that you’re not allowed to use any electronic devices during this time, or you may be disqualified and have to re-take the exam.

While HESI and TEAS are similar in content, the two exams are scored differently. It’s important to note that there is no official “passing” score for either exam. Your institution will determine whether your score merits a spot in their program.

The HESI is scored both by section and cumulatively. Some programs may only require a minimum cumulative score, while others will want to see a minimum in each section.

TEAS exam scores consists only of a weighted score between the four sections, so there is no minimum requirement for each section. Only 150 out of the total 170 questions are graded on the TEAS, but test takers will not know which ones.

Preparation is the key to a good score on both the HESI and TEAS. Taking practice exams and familiarizing yourself with sample questions is a great way to prepare and boost your score.

The cost of each exam can vary depending on the type of test you take, as certain programs might require different tests (for example, nursing programs may require a slightly different HESI than, say, a respiratory professional program).

Anyone taking the TEAS can expect to pay $70 each time. The cost of the HESI can vary between $40 and $100.We’ve outlined a quick overview of the key differences between TEAS and HESI.

Academic Sections 4 8
# of Questions 170 350
Passing Score Unofficial; usually >70 Unofficial; usually >75
Cost $70 $40-$100

While the content of the HESI is the most comprehensive and specific, that does not necessarily mean it’s harder. While some people find it harder to study for the HESI because there are so many individual sections, the TEAS contains much of the same material in fewer sections.

Both exams are difficult, and designed to vet those who are not yet prepared for nursing school. But anyone who studies hard enough will be able to pass both exams. Using test prep materials is always a great way to stay on track and prepare yourself for the real exam. Some of our recommended test prep materials include:

  1. TEAS Prep Course
  2. HESI Prep Course

Taking any standardized test can be nerve-wracking for some and a breeze for others. Don’t let nerves or over-confidence affect your score! Here are some tips to make sure you’re prepared to take your HESI or TEAS:

  • Make a study plan. Use a calendar, app, or test prep service to help outline what subjects you’re going to study, and when.
  • Study a little at a time. If you stay up all night studying, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t remember anything.
  • The night before the exam, don’t study. If you’ve prepared adequately, you won’t need to. Instead, eat a good meal and get a good night’s sleep.
  • The day of the exam, remember to bring a few things: your registration information, a copy of your payment, and a legal ID such as a driver’s license (school IDs don’t count).

No matter which test you are taking, it’s important to stay calm and pace yourself. Try not to consider the time limit too much. Read the instructions carefully, and do your best. Know that this is where all that studying will pay off!

Which is easier, the HESI or TEAS?

It depends on who you ask. Some people think the HESI is more difficult because there are more sections, but the exams have similar content. The TEAS is slightly shorter than the HESI, so you may find that it’s less overwhelming.

Is TEAS the same as HESI?

The TEAS is a completely separate exam than the HESI, but both are used to gauge your qualification for nursing and other medical programs.