HESI Scores

Find out everything there is to know about HESI scores with our complete guide.

Getting high HESI scores is one of the first major steps you take to get into nursing school. Do not panic, there are some steps you can take to give yourself a higher chance of success.

We will be reviewing how the HESI exam is scored, how to get a top score, and breaking down your HESI scores. If you want to start practicing, take a HESI practice exam

HESI Scores

There are a total of 10 subject exams on the HESI. Most schools will only require their students to take 3-5 sections of the HESI exam, not all 10.

Each section is scored separately on a scale from 0 to 100. Schools set their own passing scores for the HESI exam. Most schools have a minimum passing score of 75% for each section of the exam. However, some schools may require students to get a 75% on one section and an 80% on another section.

As well as scores being scored separately for each subject exam, students will also receive a composite score for the whole exam. This score is the average score of all the subtests.

HESI Scores Breakdown

Review the scoring breakdown table below to get a better idea of what your percentage scores mean.

Percentage Score Breakdown
90% to 100% Excellent
80% to 89% Very Good
75% to 79% Satisfactory
Below 75% Needs Improvement

Students who take the HESI exam on a computer will receive their scores right away. However, a more detailed score report will be available for students to look about 7 days after they take the exam.

This detailed score report will breakdown performance by section and give students a better idea of what they did well on, and what they did not do so well on.

See If You Are Ready

Take our diagnostic exam to see if you are ready for your exam. It is completely free and includes other subject exams.

How To Get Higher HESI Scores

HESI scores determine whether a nursing school will approve or deny an application to enter into their program so it’s important that students score as high as possible. Here are some of the top tips that will ensure you score high on the HESI.

1. Create a Study Schedule

As with all tests, you’ll want to create a schedule for your studies. Set aside one to two hour blocks of time for study sessions.

You will base the content for each study session on what HESI sections are required by the school you’re applying to as well as your strength on the subjects being tested.

Never try to cram at the last minute for an exam. Prepare in advance to give yourself the highest chance of success.

Our HESI online prep course is designed to keep students on track and help them study as efficiently as possible.

2. Know What to Expect

Research shows that taking a pre-test improves students’ results on the real test. It is highly recommended that you take a HESI prep test before you take the actual exam.

Knowing what to expect will build your confidence on test day. It will also help you work within the time limits on the actual exam. Timing is one of the more challenging aspects of the HESI.

3. Use Flashcards as Visual Study Aids

Flashcards are one of the best visual study aids and are great at providing detailed information in ways that are highly beneficial to visual learners.

They are best used for memorizing terms and definitions, making them perfect for studying the vocabulary section of the HESI.

If you find yourself having trouble with certain subjects, consider using our HESI A2 study guide that includes 250 flashcards to study from.

4. Pay Close Attention to Questions and Instructions

One of the key points of the HESI is to make sure that students can pay attention to detail even in a stressful environment.

Some of the questions will have instructions that are designed to distract students from the correct answer. For example, two answers might be technically “correct” but one of them will always be the “best” answer.

5. Invest in an HESI Prep Course

Using a prep course will help you work through many of the struggles that come with preparing for a test of this magnitude.

Stress plays a huge factor in this type of exam so finding ways to alleviate it is essential to getting the highest possible grade.

Investing in an HESI course puts all of the resources needed to ace this test right in front of you in an easily digestible format.

6. Take Tests in Order of Difficulty, Starting with the Easiest

There is no rule in place that states you must take the test in a specific order so you are able to choose which sections to take first.

It is highly recommended that you always complete sections you are strongest in first so that you’re not as pressured when you move onto the more difficult sections.

Think of it like exercising. You always start with easy exercises to warm up. Testing works in much the same way.

7. Double-Check your Answers

When completing each section, use all of your remaining time to proofread through all of your answers. Using every minute of time efficiently will improve your score.

Don’t rush through and try to finish early. Come in with the mindset that you’re going to use all of the time. Even a few percentage points might be enough to get you accepted into the nursing school of your choice.

HESI Exam Format

HESI scores are based on a percentage system so the highest score is 100%. There are a lot of sections and subsections in this exam.

Since each school has its own requirements as to which subsections students take, a percentage-based system is the only way to make it work for everyone.

Each section is scored separately and then the average of all scores is tallied at the end. While there are no passing grades for the HESI, each school will have a minimum score requirement for acceptance into their program.

Here’s a closer look at the scoring and format for this important test. Please note that most sections on the HESI exam have a certain number of questions that are not scored.

Students will not know which specific questions are unscored so it is important to answer all questions to the best of your abilities.

HESI Reading

There are 55 total questions but only 50 of those questions are scored. This section is designed to ensure that students are able to read highly technical passages related to healthcare. Students get 60 minutes to complete this section.

HESI Vocab

This section scores 50 questions but has 55 total questions. Students will have 50 minutes to answer all of the questions. This section is designed to test that a student can identify and understands basic terms.

HESI Grammar

Students will have their grammar concepts put to the test with 55 questions. This section has a time limit of 60 minutes. Of the 55 total questions, only 50 are scored. This sections is designed to prove that students are able to spot grammatical errors.


Students are tested in their understanding of basic mathematical concepts with 55 questions that are administered in a 50 minute time period. Only 50 questions are scored on this exam.

Schools want to ensure that applicants have a good understanding of various math concepts and this portion of the HESI exam tests students on those concepts.

HESI Physics

The physics section tests concepts like friction, rotation, Newton’s Law of Motion, and other essential skills. There are only 25 questions on this test so their weight is significant. However, students are given 50 minutes to finish this section.

HESI Biology

The biology section is one of the sections that many nursing schools don’t require. It’s comprised of 30 questions and students are given 25 minutes to complete it.

Of the 30 questions, only 25 of them are scored. Subjects include basics of biology, cellular respiration, and metabolism.

HESI Anatomy and Physiology

This section of the test is designed to test a student’s knowledge of fundamental anatomy and physiology. There are 30 total questions and students have 25 minutes to complete it. 5 questions are not scored on this section.

HESI Chemistry

The chemistry section is comprised of 30 questions with a total of 25 minutes to complete. It’s not required by most nursing schools.

Students can expect questions related to the periodic table, atomic structure, chemical bonding, etc. Only 25 questions are scored on this portion of the HESI exam.

Learning Style and Personality Style Assessment

Some nursing schools require students to complete these two tests. They are both quite short, but their questions are a bit more unpredictable.

  • Learning Style – 14 Questions with a 15 Minute Time Limit
  • Personality Style – 15 Questions with a 15 Minute Time Limit

Individual schools determine which tests are required so you will have to look at the policy of the nursing school you’re applying to. That way, you can set up a study plan that works.

HESI Scores FAQs

While every school sets its own requirements, there are certain expectations surrounding each of them. But in most cases, the actual scoring requirements will vary between each section.

For instance, students might be required to score 80% on the reading section but only have to score 70% on the math section.

Some schools also have a cumulative score requirement that students must exceed before they are allowed into the program.

In general, most schools require their students to score 75%+ on each section.

In addition to the minimum requirements discussed above, there are other factors to consider when taking the HESI exam.

If there are limited places available in the program, then just meeting the minimum requirements will not be enough. They will choose the highest scores. That’s why it’s so important that you score as high as possible.

Yes, but the number of times that the test can be taken is limited. Students must wait at least 60 days between exams and cannot take it more than three times per year. Plus, students will have to pay the admission fee every time they retake the test.

Since most nursing programs only offer one of these tests, this is a common question, but it’s not easily answered. Some students swear that the TEAS test is harder while others have the opposite opinion.

In reality, they are about the same difficulty. The scoring requirements of the nursing school set the difficulty more than the test itself.

If students have to take every portion of the HESI exam, then the HESI will most likely be more difficult. Having to take every section of the HESI exam is a rare scenario.

Denise Lessow Headshot
Authored By: Denise Lessow

Denise has been helping students study for 25+ years.

Denise has a wealth of knowledge and has helped students reach scores in the top 10% across all subject areas for the HESI, TEAS, and NLN PAX exams.

Learn more about Denise Lessow.

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