4 Tips To Study for the HESI

6 Min Read Published April 26, 2023
4 Tips To Study for the HESI

If nursing school is on your horizon, congratulations to you! You are about to embark on a challenging and rewarding career path. But first, you’ll need to get accepted into your nursing program and earn licensure as a registered nurse.

Health Education Systems Incorporated (HESI) is a company in the United States that helps nurses prepare for and pass their licensure exams. Though there are a few nursing schools without entrance exams, many use the HESI exam to predict nursing school success and NCLEX-RN pass rates. 

There are two HESI tests: 

  • The HESI Admissions (A2) exam is a criterion for many nursing school admission acceptances
  • The HESI Exit Exam helps students study and pass their NCLEX-RN licensure exams 
    Best Practices to Study for the HESI

One of the most critical aspects of acceptance for many nursing programs across the country is scoring well on the HESI exam. Although the HESI is not a universally required exam for every nursing program, it is becoming more commonly utilized because of the test's ability to predict student success.

Thousands of students take the HESI exam each year, and many often struggle to prepare for the test because it covers so many subjects and topics. 

But don’t worry! We’ll help you get focused, offer advice on the best ways to prepare for the exam, and outline several great resources available to you. You are about to learn how to master the best practices for HESI success!

4 Ways to Study for the HESI 

#1. Get Organized

Get your study materials in order and plan out your study calendar early. When you wake up each day, you must know which topic you will study and when you plan to do it.

Consider creating “block study time” from now until you take the HESI. A shared Google calendar can help you share your study plans with loved ones, so they know not to interrupt you! 

#2. Practice Repetition

Build repetition into your study schedule. Continuously go back to review each subject to reinforce the material and make it stick. 

For example, you might plan to study anatomy on Monday, again on Tuesday, and then again the following Monday. If you only study a topic once and move on, you won’t have reinforced the material enough to make it stick in your mind until you take the HESI.

#3. Take Practice Tests

Taking practice tests is essential! Every student must use them to gauge where they are in their study process. There are two main practice test benefits, which include:

  • Providing a baseline score so you know where you stand
  • Helping you identify your weak spots and identify areas for improvement

We will cover more about practice tests later in this article.

#4. Find Your Best Study Resources

Your study materials and resources must come from a reputable source. Fortunately, some of the best HESI study resources and practice tests are free from sites like YouTube. 

A good online prep course or study guidebook is also hugely beneficial. That way, you can spend more time studying the exact subjects and topics on the HESI instead of wasting time studying things that aren’t.

How to Prepare for the HESI

The best way to prepare for the HESI test is to start with a diagnostic practice test to create a baseline benchmark to measure your progress. Practice tests also help you divide and conquer individual subjects instead of looking at the test as a whole.

Your score on the practice test will tell you exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are. That way, you can tailor your studies based on your results. A surefire way to improve your HESI score is to focus on weaker topics.

The more you study, the more confident you will feel in each subject, and the closer you will get to the time to take another practice test. You can compare your new score to previous scores and see how much you have improved. 

Over time, you’ll likely see significant improvements in some areas and uncover other areas that need improvement. Continue this process until you feel confident enough to take the actual test.

HESI Study Resources

The resources you use can make all the difference in achieving a passing HESI score. We’ll cover some of the best free and paid resources available to you, so you don’t have to waste time researching them yourself.

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Practice Tests

Timed practice tests are one of the most valuable resources to prepare for the HESI. They can also help you manage your time during the actual test. After all, the last thing you want is to run out of time on any section of the HESI. 

A good practice test will give you a score report that breaks down each test question by its topic. This helps you identify precisely where your strengths and weaknesses are in each subject. 

This is an excellent HESI practice test that is timed, has detailed answer explanations, and includes a detailed score report.

Online Courses

Online courses are becoming a more popular choice to prepare for the HESI. They tend to offer much more material and depth than some books can offer. 

Online courses often provide more engaging material, including:

  • Video lessons
  • Interactive exercises or quizzes, and
  • Practice tests that give a more realistic experience similar to the actual exam 

You’ll find multiple online courses available to you, like the HESI full online course from Smart Edition Academy.

Study Guide Books

A traditional HESI study option is to use a print book study guide. A book may work well for students who prefer having hard copy material in their hands to write and highlight important notes. A quick Amazon search or your local bookstore can offer several great options. The best study guide books provide some sort of online component to access additional practice tests or videos.


Everyone knows that YouTube is a fantastic resource for free content on just about any subject. Fortunately, the same is true for HESI study resources! 

You’ll find many helpful videos with students discussing their HESI test experiences and sharing resources that worked for their success. There are even channels dedicated to the HESI exam and other pre-nursing topics that are super helpful. 

Facebook Study Groups

Joining a HESI Facebook study group community can be invaluable to your studying process. When you need study help or have specific questions about the HESI test, you can get answers from other Facebookers studying for the same exam as you. 

You can also seek out other students who scored high on the test and learn what they did to earn it. Their strategies may also work for you! 

You can join one of the largest HESI study groups here

What Happens if You Fail the HESI and What to Do Next?

Nursing schools can be very competitive. For that reason, required scores on tests like the HESI can be challenging to achieve. But if you don’t get the score you needed the first time, don’t panic! It’s common for students to take the test more than once. 

If you don’t pass the first time, check with your school to see if they have any restrictions on how long you must wait until retaking the test. Some schools have no limits, while others may require you to wait for 30 or 60 days. 

Take the time to understand the official score report from your first test. Once you have registered for your next test date, this will help you figure out what subjects to focus on so you can succeed in your second attempt. 

One of the benefits of re-taking the exam is that you’ll know what to expect this time around. You also may not be as nervous as you were the first time, making you feel less anxious and prepared to crush the test!  

Sarah Jividen
Sarah Jividen
Nurse.org Contributor

Sarah Jividen, RN, BSN, is a trained neuro/trauma and emergency room nurse turned freelance healthcare writer/editor. As a journalism major, she combined her love for writing with her passion for high-level patient care. Sarah is the creator of Health Writing Solutions, LLC, specializing in writing about healthcare topics, including health journalism, education, and evidence-based health and wellness trends. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two children. 

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