Overview of the HESI Nursing School Entrance and Exit Exams

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Last Updated: 11/30/2023

What Aspiring RNs Need To Know About Entrance Testing

The Health Education Systems Incorporated (HESI) exam is a computerized, multiple choice entrance exam required by many nursing programs. West Coast University uses this exam to test whether an applicant qualified for admission. 

Here we provide an overview of the HESI entrance exam, including everything you need to know about registration, covered topics, and how to prepare.

What’s on the Exam?

Universities can customize the HESI exam to meet their needs. At WCU, you can expect a variety of questions covering the following topics:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Basic math

You will have up to four hours to complete the exam. Some students complete it sooner, but you should set aside all four hours to dedicate to the exam. Do not rush through the assessment. Give yourself permission to review and check your work. 

Steps To Taking the HESI

Your admission advisor will help you schedule your HESI exam once you’re ready. Once you’ve chosen your test date and location, begin preparing for the exam as early as you can.

If you need to retake the exam, you might need to wait until you are allowed to retake it. Make the most of the time between attempts by reviewing material, completing practice exams, and reaching out to your admission advisor if you need extra help.

Are There Alternatives to the HESI Exam?

Yes! As an alternative to the HESI, applicants can submit acceptable ACT, SAT, or TEAS V scores in place of the assessments. For more information about what constitutes acceptable scores, please view the Admission Requirements section on your program page.

Preparing for the Exam

There are a variety of resources online that can help you review. We encourage you to explore different resources until you find one that works for you. Below are some websites past students have used to prepare. These links are not endorsed by WCU or any affiliates.

Additionally, students have had success finding review videos on YouTube and similar sites.

If you want more comprehensive exam review, the organization that provides the HESI exam also sells a review book complete with sample questions and step-by-step explanations. You can find the HESI Admission Assessment Exam Review book on their website.


That’s natural. The best way to tame your nerves is to make sure you feel adequately prepared for the test. For tips on how to combat pre-test stress, visit our post on test anxiety.

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.