How to Study for the PSB Exam?

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If you’re considering a healthcare career, you’ll stumble upon the PSB test. The Psychological Services Bureau offers this examination and aims to address various aspects. First of all, you’ll be tested on your skillset and abilities. But the exam also asks you multiple questions about your personality to evaluate whether you have the characteristics to be a healthcare professional.

Hence, PSB tests are meant to determine whether you are well suited for a healthcare training program in the United States. However, remember that there are different tests you’ll sit for depending on the program you’re applying for. Hence, you’ll have to know how to prepare and study for the examination. This allows you to increase your chances of getting accepted into the program of your dreams.

This article depicts all the information you need regarding how to study for the examination and ace it.

What is on the PSB?What is on the PSB?

As there are 4 main PSB exams, the content of each will vary slightly. However, the comprehensive examination will test you on the same criteria. So, what is the PSB exam? Find out below according to the PSB exam you’ll be sitting for.

Aptitude for Practical Nursing Examination (PSB-PN)

The PSB-PN examination is the way for those who want to become practical or vocational nurses. Like all of the other studies, this exam is designed to test whether the candidates are qualified individuals capable of becoming nurses.

The examination is divided into 5 different parts. Below are the various sections included:

Part 1: Academic Aptitude

There are 75 questions in this section, which you must complete in 40 minutes. However, there are 3 subtests included within this section:

  • Verbal: This examination will test your vocabulary and your ability to identify words within a list
  • Arithmetic: this section is not a long one, but since it requires calculations, you must have the ability to answer questions accurately but quickly
  • Non-verbal: the ability to identify shapes and patterns using logic

Part 2: Spelling

There are 40 questions you must complete within 15 minutes. It’s pretty straightforward, as you simply must choose the correct word within a list.

Part 3: Information in the Natural Sciences

In this exam section, you’ll face 75 questions for 30 minutes. This tests your knowledge in scientific areas, such as chemistry and natural sciences.

Part 4: Judgment and Comprehension in Practical Nursing Situations

As there are 40 questions, with a time limit of 25 minutes, this requires you to answer questions regarding the ethical and practical problems within the field.

Part 5: Vocational Adjustment Index

90 questions must be completed within 15 minutes. This is more of a personality test to assess your preparedness for the field.

Health Occupations Aptitude Examination (PSB-HO) & Registered Nursing School Aptitude Examination (PSB-RN)

The PSB-HO and the PSB-RN are similar examinations. They only differ from the PSB-PN in one section, as they do not have a judgment and comprehension examination. This is replaced with a reading comprehension section.

Part 1: Academic Aptitude

This section is the same as the one mentioned above. There are 90 total questions, divided into three sections.

Part 2: Spelling

The spelling section is identical to that of PSB-PN, with 50 questions.

Part 3: Reading Comprehension

This part is similar to any reading comprehension you’d expect in an exam. You’ll have short passages to read, and you must be able to interpret them and answer the questions. There is a total of 40 questions in this section.

Part 4: Information in the Natural Sciences

This section is the same as in the PSB-PN, with 90 questions.

Part 5: Vocational Adjustment Index

Precisely as the section mentioned above, the total number of questions here is 90.

Reading Comprehension Examination

This examination is administered separately. It evaluates how you learn, read, interpret, and answer questions. It enables the examiner to judge your skills and how you analyze different reading material. Find out more about it on the PSB official website.

How Many Questions are on the PSB Test?

How Many Questions are on the PSB Test?

Is the PSB test hard? To answer this question, let’s reflect on how many questions are present on the PSB test. It varies according to the specific examination you’re sitting for. Take a look below:


  • Total Duration of the exam: 2 hours and 20 minutes
  • Number of questions:320 questions


  • Total Duration of the exam: 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • Number of questions:305 questions


  • The total duration of the exam: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Number of questions:360 questions

Hence, the examinations are generally thought to be difficult due to the duration of the test. As there is a limited time designed for each section, you’ll have to complete the exam with less than 1 minute per question. This is only difficult if you cannot properly divide your time between different queries. However, the primary method of avoiding such a dilemma is appropriately preparing for the exam.

How is the PSB Test Graded?

How is the PSB Test Graded?

The PSB online examination, the one performed on the computer, is often scored instantly. Hence, you’ll be prompted with your score right after. However, getting your final, official result usually takes a while. It depends on various factors, including the day you sit for the examination, the testing center, and the examination type.

However, let’s address how the PSB test is graded. There are two significant scores:

Raw Score

The raw score, also known as the actual grade, is the total number of questions you’ve answered correctly. For example, if you correctly answer 75 out of the 90 questions in the aptitude section, your raw score in that specific section would be 75.

The raw score is generally a measure you could use to evaluate whether you meet the bare minimum requirement of the program you want to apply to. However, it does not guarantee you a spot.

Percentile Rank

Most schools will look at the Percentile Rank (PR) when deciding who to admit within the competition. It evaluates your academic standing within the pool of candidates. For example, if you score within the 90th percentile on your spelling section, it’s an indication that you performed better than 90% of people, but there is a 10% that has outachieved you.

What is a Good Score on the PSB?

What is a Good Score on the PSB?

Whether you’re wondering if you received a good score on the PSB or you want to know the PSB test passing score, then we have good and bad news. The bad news is there is no specific passing score or “good” grade. However, the good news is that what’s considered good often depends on the pool of candidates sitting for the examination with you.

That being said, you should find out what your program often asks for as a minimum. Hence, contact your school and ask them about the desired raw score or percentile rank.

5 Tips to Best Prepare for the PSB Test

5 Tips to Best Prepare for the PSB Test

Below are the best methods to use how to study for the PSB exam:

Find Your Study Guide

An ideal study guide covers tips and tricks to use in the examination and methods you should use to address questions correctly. A great PSB HOAE exam study guide would be the one offered by Ascencia. It provides material on reading, spelling, arithmetic, and all other sections with 1 complete practice test.

Find out other PSB HOAE study guides and review exams here.

Solve a Practice Test First

Before diving deep into studying, solve a practice exam. This allows you to find out what your weak points are. Afterward, focus more on the sections you’re not so confident about to avoid spending a good chunk of time on material you already know.

Don’t Skimp on the Vocational Adjustment Index

While this section tests your characteristics, personality, and attitude, you shouldn’t simply answer them without contemplating. While you don’t have ample time, consider each question and whether it’s a characteristic desired by a healthcare professional.

Don’t Spend More Than 1 Minute on a Question

While it might be tempting to spend a chunk of time on each question, if you cannot recognize it within 10 seconds, we recommend you move on and circle back.

Practice Arithmetic

At this point in life, you might be too used to the methods of a calculator to solve the simplest of questions. Hence, as you’re not allowed one in the exam, solve at least 3 arithmetics practice tests timed to find where you’re standing.

Wrapping Thing Up: How to Study for the PSB Exam?

Overall, studying for the PSB examination isn’t tricky. However, most students seem to struggle with the exam’s duration. As each test is divided into 5 sections, with each unit dedicating less than 1 minute per examination, the exam can be a little tense.

However, overall, practice does make perfect. You simply need to find the perfect study guide for your needs and then find as many practice tests as possible. Moreover, aim to address any tough topics you have, which you can pinpoint throughout your preparation. Overall, you can ace the exam with the correct amount of practice.

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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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