Follow by Email

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How to Score above a 900 on HESI

HESI, Nursing school, Nursing student, study tips, study resources, NCLEX, review, nurse, RN, computer testing, success

How to Study for HESI

HESI exams are taken towards the end of your nursing school career. HESI is a great tracker to determine how well you will perform on the NCLEX. It's a stressful test. It's long. Some schools may even hold you back if you have not scored above a 900 on it. It's comprehensive. So how do you study for it? Here's a few strategies and programs I've been using. 

Firstly, what do those scores mean?

I wasn't for sure what the scores meant except that I wanted a high one. I knew I wanted a score over 900.  That's what my teachers wanted us to get. So here's the best explanation I could find for the scores. 

  • A score above a 900 means you have a great chance of passing the NCLEX as you demonstrate having a mastery of the material.
  • A score between 850-899 mean that you have a good chance of passing and demonstrate good knowledge of the material.
  • Between 800-849 means that you know some of the material and stand a decent chance of passing NCLEX.
  • In the 700s you have major knowledge deficits and have a poor chance of passing NCLEX.
  • In the 600s and below you have major deficits and almost no chance of passing NCLEX.
Ok. Ouch. Some of that was hard to read. If you've already taken HESI, now you know where you stand. If you haven't taken HESI now you know what the scores indicate. Personally I'd like to know flat percentages but with my detective skills, this is the best example I could find as to what these scores really mean. Again, I just want to get a really high score and not think about it. ha.

Study Resources

Ok. Here are some of my tips that I use to study and prepare for the HESI. I went into the first test without studying because I wanted to know my baseline... It wasn't bad but I always strive for perfection... which causes anxiety... so do as I say, not as I do. haha. Here are my tools that I use. In a few weeks I'll retake the HESI and I'll be sure to come back and update this, however I realized that many others out there are also studying at this time and I'd like to share my techniques, books, resources, programs, etc with you all. Also, I'm not getting paid to endorse these guys and they should totally pay me... "Help me. I'm poor." 

  1. HESI/Saunder's NCLEX RN online review
    This is a very lengthy review course but I think overall it is very helpful. I just need more time in the day to study. My school got this for us for free (but what's "free" anyways? I'm in a million dollars in debt. I don't even think the great Dave Ramsey can save me and my financial woes). You start out by taking a test to get your baseline (I think it's around 75 questions?) and from that they identify your weaknesses. There are modules to work through. Each module has a 100 question test at the end. I hate that med-surg is only one module. That means some modules are shorter, maybe 100 pages. Med-surg is probably close to 1000. So if you want to use this, get started soon in the semester. It's pricey but it's helpful.
  2. Prep U
    I like that this program has quizzes that you can choose the length of (5, 10, 20, etc). I like that it is more similar to NCLEX in that as you get more and more questions right, the questions become harder. I like that. However, I don't think I learn as much. It's only quizzes, unlike the hesi online review. I can learn some from the rationale of each question but the questions will be jumping all over the place, therefore information is all over the place and not systematic and organized. It's still a good tool. And like anything, you need to use a mixture of tools to prepare. 
  3. Saunders Comprehensive NCLEX review book
    I like to read this book at night. (Yep. I seriously have NO life.) It's a quick breakdown of just about everything. You won't get in-depth details like you do in your med-surg, pharm books, etc... but it's a quick guide. It also has lots of questions. The more practice questions you can take the merrier. You'll want this for boards. Go ahead and get it and start becoming best friends.
  4. Old notes
    I look over my old notes. Especially in areas that I know are my weaknesses such as psych, maternity, peds. It's been so long since I've had those classes. I need to refresh my memory, especially since that's not the areas I've been working in during clinicals. As you might remember me saying, I print every slide out and write all over it during class. I find it helpful to have a tangible item in my hand. My eyes can't take staring at a computer screen for too long. (I'll make sure to plant a forest once I graduate.)
  5. Youtube
    When all else fails, I youtube it. If I have a question-- Youtube! I love it. Just be cautious out there. Not everything they say is perfect and 100% correct, but it still helps. It's something I can turn on while I'm folding clothes or getting ready in the morning. It's fast and easy. It got me through advanced pharm. 
  6. Old textbooks
    When I'm really struggling with a concept I drag out all the old textbooks. Chances are if I'm REALLY struggling with a concept then I turn that into a post. Which teaching someone how to do something is a great way to really learn a concept. Write out the process from start to finish of whatever it is that you're struggling to grasp. What's the patho of the disease? The signs/symptoms? Treatments? Nursing implications? Pharmacology?

Those are pretty much the only resources I use to study for HESI. There are tons of review materials out there. HESI puts out their own book, but it was too far into the semester when I realized that it might have been useful. I've never seen it though so I can't say whether it's good or bad. When in doubt I look at reviews. 

Study Tips

  • Focus. Be present. That means turn off any distractions. (Which is hard. I get it. I really do. But I do know that when I'm in crunch time I have to focus.) In order to learn a new concept we need to commit it to memory which can only occur if your mind is focused.
  • Be Repetitive. Keep reviewing the material. This is just like when you train for a race. Just because you ran 5 miles one day last week doesn't mean that you can skip out on your shorter runs. Those frequent shorter runs keep you in top performance. Just like studying, you need to keep at it. The more you practice a concept the easier it becomes to retrieve that information.
  • Practice taking long tests. This is where I really like Prep-U. You can take tests as long as 265 questions. God that sucks. I can't tell you how much that sucks. But you need to do it. Just like training for a marathon, you need to do this to build up stamina. When I review any lengthy tests I do great until around question 50-60. Then I get tired. And cranky. And I stop caring. Until I get to question 80 and realize I'm only half-way through with this test. I have to FOCUS. So it's good to build up stamina. God forbid it take 265 questions to pass my boards but if it does then I want to be prepared to take a test that long. Bonus: The HESI online review and the prep-u program have "select all that apply" questions on them. So it gives you more practice. Those SATA questions are little boogers.
  • Move around. Every 30 minutes I think it's good to get up and stretch. Get some carrots to munch on. Fill up a glass of water. Stretch. Something. Otherwise you'll get tired and won't be able to concentrate as well.
  • Stay Healthy. This should go without saying but please take care of yourself during nursing school. Especially towards the end. Granted you can't always avoid sickness, but you can give your body proper nutrients and sleep. Really try to make that a priority. It will make such a difference in your cognitive abilities and how you physically feel and look. I've never had a guy compliment my dark eye circles.

Ok. There's definitely more ways to approach this test. These are just a few of my personal suggestions. I'll be sure to update this when I take my test again in a few weeks.

What do you do to prepare for HESI or NCLEX? Do you use some of the programs mentioned or do you use a different resources? What works best for you? Let this community of nursing students know what is helpful by leaving a comment below! Thanks!
Hellooo Nurse logo, nurse nightingale, nurse blog, student nurse, RN




  1. Thanks for the helpful tips! I found your blog through Pinterest so I stopped to read this post. I am almost done with nursing school! Only 3 more tests and I'll be done (well, done until NCLEX!). I just wanted to add a very helpful resource for me when studying for HESI exams is the HESI Evolve NCLEX-RN review book. I'm not sure if this comes with the online aspect you mentioned; I only had the book. I bought the book on Amazon (an older edition) for less than $10. It still had the CD inside to access tons of practice questions that really helped me. There were questions on the HESI RN Exit that I wouldn't have known the answer to had I not used the review book and practice questions available on the CD. I made a 926 on the HESI RN Exit and an 1155 on the HESI Nursing Management exam. I was totally surprised by the management score! It's my highest HESI score and I definitely think a major part of that is due to using the HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN book!

  2. Marissa, Great job!! You go girl!! I did not use that resource but that would be a great one to use when studying. I overheard other girls from other nursing schools talk about that book when I was taking Kaplan. I thought it sounded like a great resource. And it's so cheap. Score!I really need to make an update on this post. I will let you in on my stats. I made a 922 on the exit exam by HESI and I passed the NCLEX in 75 questions. Soooooo you're definitely going to rock your NCLEX. And honestly the best advice is to try your best to be well rested, don't panic, and try to be as comfortable as you can be when you go to take your boards. Good luck with boards and good luck starting your new journey as Nurse Marissa!! :)

  3. Thank you for such a well written article. It’s full of insightful information and entertaining descriptions. Your point of view is the best among many.
    Hbse result 2018

  4. Thank you for your input. I recently took the Hesi A2 and I didnt do as well as I thought. I didn't prepare, I just went in did my thing and didn't score high enough on AP portion. Now Ive had my wakeup call and im glad to see that I'm not the only one that struggled at one point.

  5. Thank you very much for sharing these informative and wonderful strategies.
    APRN World NCLEX Review has helped people to successfully Pass their examinations with “PASS GUARANTEE” through simple NCLEX study techniques and strategies. If you want to be on the right track and sail gracefully on your upcoming NCLEX exam!