HESI A2 Exam Overview

Nurses are some of the most sought-after professionals today. If you’re a nursing student, you’ve most likely heard of—or perhaps already taken—the HESI exam. But what is the HESI exam, and why is it so important?

The HESI exam is aimed at both identifying qualified candidates for nursing programs, and helping to prepare current nursing students for pivotal nursing exams such as the NCLEX-RN.

There are different types of HESI exams depending on your profession and stage in your program:

  1. HESI A2
  2. HESI Exit Exam

We will be focusing on the HESI A2 exam. If you want to start practicing, take our free HESI test.

What is the HESI A2 Exam?

The HESI A2 exam is an exam given by nursing schools to students who wish to gain admission into that nursing school. Think of it like the SAT or ACT for college.

There are 8 potential subject exams you may be asked to take. Each school has different requirements for which subject exams they want you to take.

What Does HESI Stand For?

HESI stands for Health Education Systems Incorporated, and is a company that produces various tests and study materials that are meant to imitate real questions students may encounter in their classes and on official exams.

What is on the HESI Exam?

There are 326 multiple-choice questions on the HESI A2 exam. The number of questions in each section can vary, but here is a breakdown of what you can expect if you’re taking the HESI A2.

SectionNumber of QuestionsTime Limit (Minutes)
Anatomy & Physiology3025
Personality Profile1515
Learning Style1415

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Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to see in each section:

HESI Math (55 Questions, 50 Minutes)

Topics tested include:

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Ratios
  • Proportions
  • Fractions
  • Decimals

HESI Grammar (55 Questions, 50 Minutes)

Topics tested include:

  • Parts of Speech
  • Verb Forms and Tenses
  • Pronouns
  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation
  • Easily Confused Words
  • Sentence Structure
  • Clauses

HESI Vocabulary (55 Questions, 50 Minutes)

Topics tested include:

  • Word Origins
  • Verbal Ability
  • Nursing Specific Word Knowledge
  • Health Care Specific Word Knowledge

HESI Reading Comprehension (55 Questions, 60 Minutes)

Topics tested include:

  • Case studies from which students must make logical inferences
  • Summarization
  • Identifying writer’s purpose, supporting details, and main ideas

HESI Anatomy and Physiology (30 Questions, 25 Minutes)

Topics tested include:

  • Planes and Terms of Direction
  • Skeletal System
  • Muscular System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Immune and Lymphatics Systems
  • Endocrine System
  • Nervous System
  • Body Senses
  • Reproductive System

HESI Biology (30 Questions, 25 Minutes)

Topics tested include:

  • Biology Basics
  • Cells
  • Cellular Respiration
  • Photosynthesis
  • DNA
  • Molecules
  • Genetics
  • Metabolism

HESI Chemistry (30 Questions, 25 Minutes)

Topics tested include:

  • Scientific Notation
  • Metric System
  • Atomic Structure
  • Periodic Table
  • Chemical Equations
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Stoichiometry
  • Oxidation and Reduction
  • Acids and Bases
  • Nuclear Chemistry
  • Biochemistry

HESI Physics (25 Questions, 50 Minutes)

Topics tested include:

  • Motion
  • Acceleration
  • Newton’s Laws
  • Friction
  • Rotation
  • Energy
  • Light
  • Waves and Sounds
  • Optics
  • Atomic Structure

HESI Learning Style (14 Questions, 15 Minutes)

This section will try to gauge whether you are a visual, auditory, analytical, or kinesthetic learner. It is not graded and will not affect your overall score.

HESI Personality Style (15 Questions, 15 Minutes)

This section will try to gauge your personality style, and whether you are calm, creative, a leader, or a “people” person. Like the previous section, it is not graded and will not affect your total score.

Who Takes the HESI Exam?

Here’s a breakdown of who is taking the HESI exams and how they’re used:

ExamWho is Taking It?How Is It Used?
HESI A2Students applying to nursing school.It is used by colleges and universities to determine if the applicant is qualified for the program.
HESI Exit ExamStudents who are graduating from nursing school.It is used for the benefit of the test-taker to predict how they will perform on the NCLEX exam.

There are two main HESI nursing exams: the HESI A2 and the HESI Exit exam.

The HESI A2 is the test that is given to prospective nursing students looking to enter a program. Some schools use this to determine whether or not to admit a student into their program.

The A2 isn’t required for all programs, so be sure to check with your institution.

The HESI Exit exam is given to all nursing students to help them asses how they will perform on the NCLEX exam. HESI states that the exam will predict with 98% accuracy how the student will perform on the real exam.

How Can I Register for the HESI Exam?

You can register for the HESI online at the Elsevier website. Here, you will redeem an access code or course ID to get started.

How Can I Prepare for the HESI Exam?

It can be daunting to begin studying for such a large and important exam. We have created an all-in-one HESI review course to help students prepare for this exam. Our course includes study materials, full-length practice exams, and a 100% pass guarantee.

You can also answer HESI questions to see where you stand. You may find that you are already prepared for the exam and that you do not need to do any studying.

Lastly, you can use a HESI exam study guide that will give you exposure to real questions that are written in the style of the exam, with complete explanations for each one. We lay out everything you need to know for each topi and test your knowledge with various questions and exams.

Coming prepared for the HESI exam is pivotal to your nursing career. By using the right study materials, you can show up to the test with confidence.


The HESI exam takes four hours to complete (if you are required to take all sections). You will be given short breaks in between sections.

However, you may only be required to take a couple of sections, which would make your exam shorter.

There are 326 multiple-choice questions on the HESI A2 exam. This is the number of questions if you are required to take all sections.

The number of questions can vary for each section (slightly). There may be some unscored questions in each section, but you will not know which questions are unscored.

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

Each school picks what sections they want to administer to their students. The most common HESI sections administered are:

  • Math
  • Reading
  • Vocab
  • Grammar
  • Anatomy and Physiology

Most questions will be multiple-choice questions. However, there are some different types of questions like fill-in-the-blank, multiple-select, and order.

However, most of the questions will be multiple-choice format.

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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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