A group of female nurses at their desk discussing HESI requirements for nursing schools.

Do All Nursing Schools Require HESI

Not all nursing schools require the HESI exam. While many nursing schools do require the HESI (Health Education Systems, Inc.) exam as part of their admission process, there are also schools that do not enforce this requirement. Read on to learn more about the various aspects and make an informed decision about your nursing education.

Common Misconceptions about HESI In Nursing Schools

There are some misconceptions surrounding the HESI exam requirement in nursing schools. Let’s address a few of them:

  1. All nursing schools require HESI: While the HESI exam is widely used by many nursing schools, not all schools make it a mandatory requirement. Some schools may have their own entrance exams or alternative assessments to evaluate prospective students.
  2. HESI is the only determining factor: While the HESI exam plays a significant role in the admission process, it is not the sole determining factor. Nursing schools consider various other factors such as GPA, prerequisite courses, personal statements, and interviews when making admission decisions.
  3. Scoring high on HESI guarantees admission: Scoring well on the HESI exam is undoubtedly beneficial, but it does not guarantee admission into a nursing program. Admission decisions are based on a holistic review of all the applicant’s qualifications and not solely on exam scores.

The Role of HESI in Your Nursing Education

Now that we understand the HESI exam’s purpose in nursing school admissions, let’s explore its role in your nursing education. The HESI exam serves several important functions throughout your nursing program:

  1. Progress Monitoring: Nursing schools often require students to take the HESI exam at various stages of their education to assess their progress. This helps faculty members identify areas where students may need additional support and tailor their teaching strategies accordingly.
  2. Predictive Testing: The HESI exam can predict students’ potential success in the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). By evaluating students’ performance on the HESI exam, schools can identify those who may require additional preparation for the licensure exam.
  3. Curriculum Evaluation: Nursing programs may use HESI exam results to evaluate the effectiveness of their curriculum. By analyzing students’ performance on specific content areas, schools can make informed decisions about curriculum improvements and adjustments.

Why Some Schools Choose to Require HESI

There are several reasons why nursing schools choose to require the HESI exam as part of their admission process:

  1. Standardized Assessment: The HESI exam provides a standardized way to assess the skills and knowledge of nursing candidates. By using the HESI exam, schools can ensure that all applicants are evaluated on the same criteria, making the admission process fair and objective.
  2. Predicting Success: The HESI exam helps nursing schools predict students’ potential success in their programs and the NCLEX-RN. By evaluating students’ critical thinking abilities, content knowledge, and test-taking skills, schools can identify candidates who are likely to excel in their nursing education and licensure exams.
  3. Quality Assurance: Requiring the HESI exam allows nursing schools to maintain a high standard of education and ensure that their graduates are well-prepared for the nursing profession. By assessing students’ abilities and knowledge before admission, schools can admit those who meet their standards and have the potential to become successful nurses.

Reasons Why Some Schools Don’t Enforce HESI

There are several reasons why some nursing schools choose not to require the HESI exam:

  1. Alternative Assessments: Some schools have developed their own entrance exams or assessments that they believe better evaluate prospective students’ abilities and knowledge. These schools may have specific criteria and requirements that they believe are more relevant to their nursing programs.
  2. Holistic Admissions: Some nursing schools take a holistic approach to admissions and consider a wide range of factors when evaluating prospective students. They may prioritize students’ GPAs, prerequisite courses, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and interviews over standardized exams like HESI.
  3. Diversity and Inclusion: Some schools may not require HESI to promote diversity and inclusion in their nursing programs. They believe that relying solely on standardized exams may disadvantage certain groups of students and limit the diversity of their student body.

The Alternatives to HESI in Nursing Education

If you are considering nursing schools that do not require HESI, you may encounter alternative exams or assessments. One common alternative is the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam, which assesses applicants’ knowledge in areas such as math, reading, science, and English. Some nursing schools may also have their own entrance exams or assessments that you will need to prepare for.

Preparing for HESI and Other Nursing School Exams

Whether you are preparing for the HESI exam or other nursing school exams, there are several tips and strategies that can help you succeed:

  1. Start early: Begin your exam preparation early to allow yourself enough time to review all the necessary content areas and practice answering different types of questions.
  2. Create a study schedule: Develop a study schedule that allows you to dedicate specific time slots for studying each content area. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you cover all the necessary material.
  3. Use study resources: Take advantage of study resources such as textbooks, online practice exams, and review courses. These resources can help you familiarize yourself with the exam format and content and improve your test-taking skills.
  4. Practice critical thinking: Nursing exams often require critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Practice answering questions that require you to analyze and apply your knowledge in different scenarios.
  5. Seek support: Don’t be afraid to seek support from your peers, instructors, or tutoring services. They can provide valuable guidance, clarification, and additional resources to aid your exam preparation.

Resources to Aid Your Exam Preparation

There are several resources available to help you prepare for the HESI exam and other nursing school exams:

  1. Official Study Materials: HESI offers official study guides, practice exams, and other resources specifically designed to help students prepare for the exam. These materials can be purchased online or accessed through your nursing school.
  2. Review Books: There are various review books available that cover the content areas tested in nursing school exams. Look for books with practice questions and explanations to reinforce your understanding.
  3. Online Practice Exams: Many websites offer online practice exams that simulate the format and content of nursing school exams. These exams can help you assess your knowledge and identify areas where you need to focus your studying.
  4. Study Groups: Joining a study group can be a great way to review material, discuss challenging concepts, and get different perspectives on the content. Working with others can also help keep you motivated and accountable.
  5. Tutoring Services: If you’re struggling with certain subjects or need extra support, consider seeking tutoring services. Many nursing schools offer tutoring programs or can connect you with resources in the community.

Remember, preparing for nursing school exams is a process that requires dedication, time, and effort. Be patient with yourself and trust in your abilities. With the right resources and strategies, you can succeed on the HESI exam or any other nursing school exam you encounter. Good luck!


Q: What is the passing score for the HESI exam?
The passing score for the HESI exam varies depending on the nursing school and program. It is important to check with the specific school you are applying to determine their minimum passing score requirement.

Q: Can I retake the HESI exam if I don’t pass on my first attempt?
Yes, many nursing schools allow students to retake the HESI exam if they do not pass on their first attempt. However, there may be limitations on the number of times you can retake the exam or a waiting period between attempts. It is best to check with the nursing school for their retake policy.

Q: How can I prepare for the anatomy and physiology section of the HESI exam?
To prepare for the anatomy and physiology section of the HESI exam, it is important to review the main systems of the human body, including the skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Use resources such as textbooks, online study guides, and practice questions to reinforce your understanding of these topics.

Q: Are there any study guides specifically designed for the HESI exam?
Yes, HESI offers official study guides and practice exams specifically designed to help students prepare for the exam. These study guides cover all the content areas tested on the HESI exam and provide practice questions, explanations, and tips for success.

Q: Is the HESI exam the same as the NCLEX-RN exam?
No, the HESI exam and the NCLEX-RN exam are different. The HESI exam is a standardized test used by nursing schools to evaluate the readiness of prospective students, while the NCLEX-RN exam is a licensing examination that nurses must pass to become a registered nurse.

Q: Can I use HESI exam scores from a previous year for my nursing school application?
It depends on the nursing school’s policy. Some schools may accept HESI exam scores from a previous year, while others may require more recent scores. It is important to check with the nursing school to determine their score validity period.

Q: What is the time limit for the HESI exam?
The time limit for the HESI exam varies depending on the nursing school and program. It typically ranges from 4 to 5 hours. It is important to manage your time effectively during the exam to ensure you have enough time to complete all the sections.

Q: Can I use a calculator during the HESI exam?
Most nursing schools do not allow the use of calculators during the HESI exam. The exam is designed to assess your ability to perform calculations without the aid of a calculator. It is important to practice mental math and basic math skills to prepare for this portion of the exam.

Q: Do nursing schools consider HESI exam scores from all sections or just specific sections?
Nursing schools typically consider HESI exam scores from all sections when evaluating prospective students. However, the weight given to each section may vary depending on the school’s admission criteria. It is best to check with the nursing school to determine how they use HESI exam scores in their admissions process.

Q: Can I request accommodations for the HESI exam if I have a disability?
Yes, nursing schools are required to provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities during the HESI exam. It is important to contact the nursing school’s disability services office to discuss your specific needs and provide any necessary documentation.