What is the HESI Exam?

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Many nursing students will have to take the HESI exam at one point during their nursing careers. But, what is the HESI exam?

We review everything you need to know about the HESI A2 exam below. We also offer a ton of free resources to help you succeed on this challenging exam.

Summary: Learn about what is on the HESI exam. To start preparing, use our HESI test review.

What is the HESI Exam?

HESI stands for Health Education Systems Inc. The governing body of this exam is Elsevier. Technically, there are 2 kinds of HESI tests:

  1. HESI A2
  2. HESI Exit Exam

The HESI A2 is what most people are talking about when using the term “HESI test.” The A2 stands for admissions assessment. The HESI A2 is the exam given to prospective nursing students.

The HESI Exit Exam is the exam given to students who are finishing up their nursing program. The Exit Exam is used as an indicator for success on the NCLEX exam. You can learn more about the HESI Exit Exam with our complete guide.

We will be focusing on the HESI A2 exam in this guide.

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What is on the HESI Exam?

The HESI A2 is made up of 8 total subject exams. Each subject is given individually and has its own time limit. While there are 8 total subjects on the HESI test, you may not have to take every subject.

The subjects given on your HESI exam are determined by your school or program. Some nursing programs may require all 8 HESI subjects, while other programs may only require 4 subjects.

A complete list of the 8 HESI subjects can be found in the table below:

HESI ExamTotal QuestionsTime Limit
HESI Math55 (50 Scored/5 Unscored)50 Minutes
HESI Reading55 (50 Scored/5 Unscored)60 Minutes
HESI Vocab55 (50 Scored/5 Unscored)50 Minutes
HESI Grammar55 (50 Scored/5 Unscored)50 Minutes
HESI Biology30 (25 Scored/5 Unscored)25 Minutes
HESI Chemistry30 (25 Scored/5 Unscored)25 Minutes
HESI Anatomy and Physiology30 (25 Scored/5 Unscored)25 Minutes
HESI Physics2550 Minutes
HESI Learning Style1415 Minutes
HESI Personality Style1515 Minutes

You may notice that some subjects have scored and unscored questions. You will not know which questions count towards your score, so it is important to try your best on all questions.

How Many Questions are on the HESI Exam?

The number of questions on the HESI nursing exam varies depending on the number of sections you are required to take.

If you take every subject on the HESI exam, there are 326 total questions. Remember, each section is given separately. So, if you are taking the reading section, you will only be asked reading questions.

Please note – The number of scored and unscored questions for each section can vary slightly.

How Long is the HESI Exam?

The HESI exam is 365 minutes long if you are required to take every section. That is just over 6 hours long.

However, the exam is a lot shorter for a ton of students, as most programs do not require every section of the HESI to be taken. You can expect to have some breaks while taking the HESI test.

Where Do I Take the HESI Test?

There are a couple of potential options for students looking to take the HESI A2 exam. Some options include:

  1. Prometric Testing Center
  2. Remotely at Home (Proctored)
  3. Through Your School / Nursing Program

The options available to you will vary depending on your individual school / program. Some schools require students to take the exam in person at their institution, while other schools are more lenient and will allow you to take it online or at a proctoring center.

How is the Exam Scored?

Each HESI section is scored separately. The sections are scored on a percentage scale from 0 to 100. Some schools may require a minimum score for each section, while other schools may require a minimum combined score of all sections.

Each school will also have their own requirements. However, you should shoot for a score above 75% as most schools and programs have their requirements are this mark.

You can learn more about HESI scores with our complete guide.

How Many Times Can I Take the HESI A2?

The number of times you can take the HESI test varies depending on your school or program. With that being said, most schools allow at least 1 re-take of the HESI exam.

Students can expect to be able to take the exam 2 to 3 times total.


No, most students will not need to take all sections of the HESI exam.

Schools and programs will pick and choose which sections of the HESI exam they give out.

It is important to verify which sections you will need to take so you can prepare properly.

You will be able to take the HESI 1 of 3 ways. You can take the exam at a Prometric testing center, remotely at home, or at your school / program.

Some schools and programs will limit the options above, so check with your school or program to double check which option you can use.

The HESI A2 is given to prospective nursing students who are looking to enter a nursing program.

The HESI exit exam is given to students who are finishing their nursing program. It is an indicator for success on the NCLEX. Read for more information on the HESI Exit Exam.

Jan Olson
Dr. Jan Olson has her Bachelor's degree in nursing, Master's degree in nursing, and Doctorate in nursing.