4 Key Differences

Last Updated On: April 2, 2021

If you are interested in a career in the health sciences field, you have undoubtedly heard of the HESI and TEAS exams. These tests are often required as an entrance test for nursing school. If you want to get into your dream nursing program, you will have to understand these entrance exams.

But, which one should you take? How difficult are these exams? We decided to break down the key components of each exam. In this guide, we will answer these questions and more to help you prepare for your entrance exam and get into the nursing school of your dreams.

What is HESI?

A female nurse checking a patients heartbeat. There is a HESI Logo overlay

The Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) exam is offered by the Elsevier Education group. The HESI A2 exam was designed as an entrance exam for nursing programs, paramedicine, and other healthcare professions.

The HESI exam tests a student’s aptitude to succeed in a healthcare profession program. The HESI A2 exam was designed to prepare students who are interested in medical professions for licensure and professional certification in their field of study.

The HESI exam also offers specialty exams based on your program of interest.

What is TEAS?

The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) was designed by Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI). The ATI TEAS test was designed as an entrance test for nursing schools and other medical profession programs. [1]

The TEAS test is used to determine a student’s aptitude for a nursing program. It is often used to determine how well a student will adjust to nursing programs in the United States.

Key Factors of the HESI and the TEAS Exam

A man writing on a test paper on a classroom table


While both of these exams are designed to measure the same core components, they have different sections and methods for testing.


The HESI A2 has at least 9 sections. The HESI exam could have more sections depending on your specialty program. The HESI A2 exam tests your ability in reading, grammar, use of the English language, life, and physical sciences, math, anatomy, and physiology.

Section  Number of Questions  Time Allotted
Anatomy and Physiology 30 25 minutes
Basic Math Skills 55 50 minutes
Biology 30 25 minutes
Chemistry 30 25 minutes
Grammar 55 50 minutes
Learning Style 14 15 minutes
Personality Profile 15 15 minutes
Reading Comprehension 55 60 minutes
Vocabulary and General Knowledge 55 50 minutes

The anatomy and physiology section of the HESI A2 test will test your knowledge of human anatomy and basic physiology functions. The basic math portion will test your knowledge of arithmetic and some algebra.

The biology questions will require you to understand basic biological processes. The chemistry questions will revolve around basic and stoichiometric chemistry.

For the grammar, reading comprehension, and vocabulary questions, you will be expected to exhibit your English and language usage skills effectively. The learning and personality style sections do not require studying.

They were designed to see what type of learner you are in a classroom setting. These portions of the test will also help determine your ability to succeed in nursing programs.

A woman writing on a paper inside a classroom


The TEAS exam only has four sections. When it comes to the HESI and TEAS test, the TEAS is much shorter and is often considered easier. The TEAS exam has reading and science sections, which are designed to test your ability to succeed in nursing school.

Section  Number of Questions  Time Allotted
Reading 53 64 minutes
Mathematics 36 54 minutes
Science 53 63 minutes
English and Language Usage 28 28 minutes

The reading section will test your comprehension of key ideas and details. It will also test your knowledge of sentence and reading passage structure. The math section will test your knowledge of algebra, data interpretation, and arithmetic.

The science section will test you on anatomy, physiology, life, physical, and basic sciences. You should have a thorough understanding of scientific reasoning. The language section will test vocabulary and standard English usage.


The HESI test is much longer than the TEAS. When taking the HESI A2, you should be prepared to sit for about 4 hours. The TEAS exam takes about 209 minutes or 3.5 hours to complete.


Most students argue the HESI is harder than the TEAS. This might be due to the increased length of the HESI test. The TEAS vs HESI exam is known to be a bit less specialized. You will likely need to study more when you take the HESI due to its increased specialization.

When you take the TEAS, you can rely on some of the general knowledge that you learned in math and science. To do well on the HESI, you need to understand more specialized information pertaining to anatomy and other life sciences.

Many students study for the HESI before the TEAS since it is more difficult. If you study for the HESI, then you will likely be prepared if you need to take the TEAS. You should practice for both exams if you need to take both.


Some schools require a minimum passing score to be accepted but many do not. They will base your scores on the average of all the applicant’s scores. The average minimum that most schools expect is more than 60%.

The ATI TEAS and HESI are scored similarly. They are both scored on a scale of 0 to 100%. You will receive a composite score and an individual score for each section. You should check with each program you plan to apply to decide what your target score should be.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”


W.B. Yeats

Studying For the HESI and the TEAS Exam

A man wearing a grey jacket writing on a notebook outdoors

In this guide, we will provide you with the essential study tips for the HESI and the TEAS tests. Make sure you plan to study for a couple of weeks before you take the exam. You should have a basic understanding of high school math and science before you begin studying.

Practice Tests

One essential component of studying for any standardized test is to utilize practice exams that are similar to the real thing. You should time yourself exactly like you will be timed when you take the real test. You should also get your score by marking all of the answers you got wrong.

We recommend taking practice exams at the beginning of your studying journey to see your baseline score and how much you need to improve. Students should understand how to make a quick study guide for themselves based on their performance on the practice tests.

Practice Questions

Another great way for students to study is to answer as many practice questions as they can. You do not have to complete these under timed conditions, but we recommend going through the answer explanation for every question you get wrong.

This will help you identify where your problem areas are. Practice questions can help you understand core concepts and refresh your memory in areas that you may not have studied since high school.

Targeted Section Studying

You should have a thorough understanding of your strengths and weaknesses before you take the tests. If you’re a science whiz, but can’t remember what a verb is, then you should focus more time on the logical and critical thinking questions on each of these tests.

It is critical you focus on the areas that will improve your score the most. This is called smart studying.

If you struggle with the science section of the HESI or TEAS, then you should spend your time studying physical and life sciences. The TEAS exam requires fewer practice tests related to the “hard sciences.”

HESI vs TEAS: Which Exam Should You Take?

Now that you have an understanding of both the HESI and TEAS, you might be asking yourself the question, which one should I take? If you are applying to a nursing program, then you will have to take one of these tests. The real answer lies with the schools that you want to get into.

If your dream school requires you to take the TEAS, then you should spend most of your time studying for that exam. On the other hand, if your school of choice wants your application to include HESI scores, then prepare for that exam.


  1. https://www.atitesting.com/teas/register

About the author

Jordan Coleman

Jordan Coleman

Jordan is a teacher who is in love with English literature and quality content. He uses his teaching experience to help both his own students and others around the world to improve their knowledge and self-confidence.

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