Are you contemplating applying to a healthcare training program in US schools? If so, you might have heard of the PSB exam. They are tests used to evaluate five main areas, which schools optimize to assess whether or not the candidates are prepared enough to undergo the program.
However, many students seem terrified of the examination, as it is the determining factor in getting accepted or rejected by colleges. It’s also quite long, which can be intimidating for many. Hence, many regard it as a complex examination. But how hard is it in reality? Find out all the answers in this article.
What is the PSB Exam?
PSB stands for Psychological Services Bureau. This organization aims to prepare its health professionals and their candidates through educational programs, enabling them to make effective decisions and learn how to handle the medical field.
Generally, this foundation dedicates its exams to professionalism, excellence, and research. Hence, it strives to tap into the potential of candidates and make them realize whether they’re suitable for a healthcare career path or not.
However, there are 4 different PSB tests depending on the program you want to apply to. These are all discussed below. However, before diving deeper into the different types of examinations, it’s important to note that each of the PSB-PN, PSB-HO, and PSB-RN tests include subtests, which are:
- Academic aptitude(includes verbal, non-verbal, and arithmetic exams) – tests the possibility of succeeding academically.
- Spelling – questions on basic educational skills.
- Information in the natural sciences – tests your ability to make conclusions and use the knowledge you’ve acquired.
- Judgment & comprehension in practical nursing situations (PN) OR reading comprehension (HO & RN)– either tests your ability to evaluate conditions or how well you can analyze a piece of text.
- Vocational Adjustment Index – asks questions about personality and characteristics to determine whether you’re fit for a health occupation.
Below is a list of the various PSB exams available, along with the details of each examination.
Aptitude Practical Nursing Examination (PSB-PN)
The PSB Aptitude for Practical Nursing Examination is the exam that future practical and vocational nurses sit for. Hence, applicants who want to undergo practical nursing training and some educational programs sit for this examination.
- Total number of questions: 320 questions
- Total time for the exam: 2 hours 5 minutes
- The exam measuresthe test taker’s nursing abilities, which revolve around practical nursing situations. However, it also evaluates your mathematics skills, personality traits, and spelling.
Health Occupations Aptitude Examination (PSB-HO)
The PSB-HO examination is the way to go for those looking to apply to more general healthcare. This is the Health Occupations Aptitude Exam, designed for those pursuing various healthcare fields. This enables you to apply to many instead of specific ones, such as only nursing.
- Total number of questions: 305
- Whole time for the exam: 2 hours 5 minutes
- What the exam measures: assessing the ability to thrive in general healthcare fields
Registered Nursing School Aptitude Examination (PSB-RN)
The PSB Registered Nursing School Aptitude Examination was initially meant to target individuals applying for nursing positions. However, it is more often used to assess placement and planning for the curriculum.
- Total number of questions: 360 questions
- Full time for the exam: 1 hour 45 minutes
- What the exam measures: the ability to understand texts, basics of nursing, and evaluation of personality traits
How Many Questions are on the PSB Exam?
The number of questions on the PSB exams varies depending on the specific examination you’re sitting for. However, expect the number of questions to be within 305 – 360, and the total time allocated averages 2 hours.
But how difficult is the PSB exam? A candidate said the examination was not as difficult as she thought it would be. She emphasizes the need to study well and be more than prepared for the test. However, her experience involved the following, which you can use as key takeaways:
- Don’t study too hard (limit yourself to 1-2 study sources).
- Avoid spending too much time focusing on the arithmetic section when studying. It involves pretty basic mathematics.
- When you’re in the spelling section, try writing the word down before looking over all the answers at once. That allows you to avoid getting confused by all the options.
- You will most likely not be able to solve the whole exam in a short time frame. That’s totally fine. However, to avoid getting stuck, answer the questions you’re immediately sure of and circle back to the ones you couldn’t answer.
Is the PSB Test Hard?
Generally speaking, the items on the examination is not difficult at all. It’s well known that the sole purpose of the exam is to test your ability to answer fundamental healthcare questions. Hence, for instance, the arithmetic section is equivalent to questions one would answer in 9th grade.
Hence, expect the questions to be relatively straightforward. Moreover, as they’re all multiple choice questions, this eliminates the need to write overly long explanations and answer essay questions. That’s why many students prefer the PSB exam over other lengthy examinations.
On the other hand, the main downside of this examination is that the questions average out to be around 300, regardless of the specific test. In contrast, you have approximately 2 hours to complete all the questions thoroughly. Hence, you’ll have less than 1 minute for each question, even less, as some subtests allocate less time per question.
Now, what is the most challenging part of the PSB test? Many test-takers over the years seem to agree that the section they’ve struggled with most was the scientific section. There are multiple reasons for that, including:
- Little time allocated to answer and think about all the questions
- Candidates have been out of school for a long time, so they find it difficult to think critically.
- The scientific part of the exam covers numerous subtopics, including biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy, earth science, and physiology.
PSB Passing Score
As for the PSB test passing score, keep in mind that there isn’t a specific number you should strive for. The exam is graded based on the raw score and the percentile rank. Hence, there aren’t pass/fail criteria. Instead, you’ll be evaluated based on how well you perform compared to your peers.
However, most schools follow the below guidelines. You’ll often only be considered for the following programs if you achieve a specific minimum percentile rank:
12th percentile rank
- Sterile Processing
- Sterile Processing & Distribution
- Dental Assisting
- Nurse Assistant
- Emergency Medical Technician
25th percentile rank
- Surgical Technology
- Massage Therapy
- Physical Therapist Assistant
How to Best Prepare for PSB Exam?
Learning how to pass the PSB exam requires two main things: knowing your weak points and practicing.
Focus on Your Weak Points
First, try sitting for a practice exam before diving deep into your study sessions. This enables you to find out which areas of the examination are weakest.
For example, the scientific subtest of the PSB exam might ask you questions on far more than simple science. Hence, expect to answer questions on medications, inventions, and people who have created vaccines.
As for the mathematics subsection, you’ll deal with elementary mathematics. That includes calculating distances, speeds, percentages, fractions, and simplistic numbers. On the other hand, the spelling section is often the most confusing. Still, it is almost always related to the medical field.
The last part of the exam is the vocational examination. While it’s stated that there aren’t any right or wrong answers, we do recommend you check out PSBtests as it provides you with sample questions as well as their solutions. While they claim there are no wrong answers, they weigh in regarding your final score.
Don’t Get Stuck on Questions
Dedicate around 30 seconds for questions. However, if you cannot find the answer within the first 15 seconds, we recommend you leave a mark to circle back and move on. Stressing individual questions will often backfire, as it’s known that very few candidates actually manage to complete the full examination. Hence, don’t worry about getting every single question right.
Find Practice Tests
Depending on the type of examination, you’ll find various practice tests. Below are resources per test:
- PSB Registered Nursing Exam Practice Test: PSBtests and Ascencia Study Guide
- PSB Practical Nursing Examination practice: PSBtests and Ascencia Study Guide
- PSB Health Occupations Aptitude Test study resources: PSBtests and Ascencia Study Guide
Wrapping Things Up: How Difficult is the PSB Exam?
The bottom line is that the PSB exam is difficult only if you haven’t prepared for it. For example, the mathematics sections are pretty manageable. However, suppose you don’t practice some arithmetic questions before the exam. In that case, you might find yourself stuck on the most straightforward problems.
Hence, there are a few items to keep in mind. First of all, target your weak points before the examination. Second, don’t get stuck on questions during the test, as you aren’t expected to fully complete it. Lastly, make sure you also practice the vocational index section, as it will be a determining factor for your final score.