HESI vs. TEAS: What’s the Difference? Which is Harder?

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When it comes to entering into the nursing profession, you have to be prepared for all of the different steps. You’ll need to get through nursing school first, and in order to do that, you need to pass the entrance exam. That’s where you may first come to the choice between HESI and TEAS.

If you’re just getting started on your journey toward becoming a nurse, you need to know about both of these tests so you can decide which one is the best route for you. Keep in mind that both of these tests are entrance exams to get you into nursing school, but they’re slightly different in the way that happens.

We’re going to talk about each of these tests and the differences between the HESI and the TEAS so you can decide which one to take. We’ll also look at how often you can take them, and what’s on each of them to help you make a decision. That way, you can get on with the nursing school process.

Are the HESI and TEAS the Same?Are the HESI and TEAS the Same?

The HESI and the TEAS are the same in that they are both entrance exams to help you get into nursing school. However, they each have several differences that you should take into consideration as well, which is why both exist.

Both of these exams are designed to help you evaluate the different responsibilities that you will be faced with when you become a nurse. They also test your aptitude and your abilities going into nursing school. However, there are a number of differences between the two that you should consider.

For example, the HESI is actually a much longer exam, and it is more complicated than the TEAS. That doesn’t mean it’s automatically the right (or wrong) option for you. There’s more to it than that.

There are four sections on the TEAS exam, which cover the more basic components that you will need to know to do well in nursing school. On the other hand, there are ten sections on the HESI exam, which will dive deeper into your skills and abilities as well as looking at your own personal skills. This can help you to more fully prepare for the program you will enter.

What is on the TEAS Exam vs. the HESI Exam?

What is on the TEAS Exam vs. the HESI Exam?

Both of these exams are going to test skills such as reading, vocabulary, and science, but they’re going to do it in entirely different ways. Let’s take a look at the TEAS exam first.


The TEAS exam has four sections that will cover reading, mathematics, science, and the use of the English language. There is a total of 209 minutes to complete this exam. This exam takes a more overall approach to just what you’re going to learn and how you’re going to showcase your skills rather than looking at each area in depth.

The reading section includes a total of 53 questions over 64 minutes and looks at knowledge, ideas, contextualization, and combining central ideas and details.

The mathematics section includes a total of 36 questions over 54 minutes and looks at algebra, conversion of decimals, non-numeric fractions, percentages, and measurement of data.

The science section includes a total of 53 questions over 63 minutes and looks at anatomy and physiology and laws of heredity.

The English language section includes a total of 28 questions over 28 minutes and looks at vocabulary, overall knowledge, and standardized etiquette.


The HESI exam has ten sections, which include reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, traditional math skills, biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, general profiling and learning style, and critical thinking. There is a total of 4 hours to complete this exam. This exam looks more in-depth at the different sections and covers the information from the TEAS exam and then some.

The reading comprehension section has 47 questions and evaluates how you can analyze different situations and draw conclusions.

The vocabulary section has 50 questions and evaluates knowledge of sentence structure with both simple and complex vocabulary.

The grammar section has 50 questions and evaluates knowledge of speech, standard errors, speech patterns, and basic terminology.

The math skills section has 50 questions that associate with everyday math, including decimals, ratios and proportions, addition, subtraction, and multiplication.

The biology section has 25 questions and evaluates knowledge of photosynthesis, cellular structure, cellular respiration, biological molecules, metabolism, and water properties.

The chemistry section has 25 questions and evaluates knowledge of chemical equations, matter properties, nuclear chemistry, periodic tables, and chemical bonding.

The anatomy and physiology section has 25 questions and evaluates knowledge of applied terminology and structured mechanisms of the anatomical systems throughout the body.

The general profiling and learning style section evaluates your personality type and identifies areas such as learning techniques and personalized questions.

The critical thinking section is based on your ability to weigh out problem-solving and analyze data without allowing bias or prejudice to enter in.

What is the Difference Between the HESI and the TEAS Scoring?

What is the Difference Between the HESI and the TEAS Scoring?

When it comes to scoring, there is no pass or fail for either of these exams. At least, there is no standard for a pass or fail based on taking the exam. Whether you are able to enter into the school of your choice based on your results is entirely up to the school that you choose to apply to.

Neither of these exams is set under specific nursing program authority, which is why they are not yet standardized to a passing score. However, you will want to get as many questions as possible correct to get the best chance of acceptance.

The HESI has scores ranging from 750 to 900 overall, and though there is no set number you need to achieve in order to pass, you should aim for a 75% to 80% on each of the ten sections for your best chance.

The TEAS actually offers three different scores, including scores for the overall exam, for each section, and for each subsection within the exam. Scores are provided in a percentage, with scores from 58.7% to 77.3% considered about average and scores above this considered advanced or exemplary.

Keep in mind that the individual schools that you apply to can select the score that they feel is best or that they require for entrance. Some schools will accept more students with lower (or slightly lower) exam scores, while others will require higher exam scores. It will generally depend on the type of school or the quality of the school you are looking to attend.

How Often Can You Take the HESI vs. the TEAS?

How Often Can You Take the HESI vs. the TEAS?

The HESI exam can be taken as many times as you like, though you will have to wait at least 60 days between attempts, and you are not allowed to take it more than three times in a 12 month period.

The requirements for how many times you can take the TEAS exam overall and how long you must wait between attempts is up to the individual school that you apply to; however, you are generally not allowed to take it more than three times in a single 12 month period.

What this means is you should be careful to study well for the exam, so you only need to take it once. However, if you are unable to pass the first time or if you do not get the score that you want, you can retake it. Make sure you know the minimum score you need to be considered for the school of your choice.

Also, make sure that you know how long the school of your choice requires you to wait before you can take the exam a second time. You may also want to know if they take your last score or your best score when considering you for admission. If you have a score that is average or only slightly above average, this might change your mind about taking the exam a second time.

Which Exam Should You Take: HESI or TEAS?

Which Exam Should You Take: HESI or TEAS?

Choosing the right exam for you is actually going to be a personal decision. While each exam has its benefits and drawbacks, there is no clear consensus over which one will provide you with the best possible results when it comes to getting into the school of your choice.

The TEAS exam is a little more widely accepted and better known, which can make it a good choice for some students, but you will want to check with the school (or schools) of your choice to make sure that they approve of this exam and what score you need in order to be considered.

The HESI exam is less well known, but that doesn’t mean that schools don’t accept it. You will want to reach out to the school or schools that you plan to apply to in order to find out if they accept this exam and what type of score you need to have to be considered.

Wrapping Things Up: HESI vs. TEAS

When it comes down to it, you want to make sure you take the exam that is going to give you the best chance of getting into the school of your choice. Talk with their admissions team and find out what it takes to get in and then figure out the exam that you will take based on that information.

Whether you choose to take the more in-depth HESI exam or, the more common TEAS exam will be between you and the school that you have chosen to apply to. Just make sure that you do your best on whichever one you decide to get the best score possible.

Looking for more nursing school supports? You may find these helpful:

The Best TEAS Review Books

The Best ATI TEAS Prep Books

The Best HESI A2 Review Books

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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