Researching nursing school admissions requirements, you’ve probably noticed many schools require applicants to take an admissions exam.
This is often the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), HESI Admission Assessment (A2) Exam, Nursing Entrance Exam (NET), Kaplan Nursing School Admissions, or — in the case of graduate nursing programs — Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test.
However, while all these nursing school admissions exams have differences and similarities, they all serve the same purpose — to gauge your academic preparedness. Predictably, this has many potential applicants seeking out free TEAS practice tests and other admissions test prep programs.
Because the University of the Incarnate Word Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track requires applicants to achieve a proficient score on the TEAS, we’ll be focusing on what you can do to prepare for that exam. However, keep in mind that a lot of this advice applies to other admissions exams, as well, so even if you’re considering another accelerated nursing option, you might want to keep reading.
How the TEAS and Other Admissions Exams Work
Most nursing school admissions exams are timed, computerized, multiple-choice tests that must be taken at assigned testing locations. As previously noted before, each focuses on specific knowledge areas.
The TEAS consists of four sections, each with a different number of questions and time limit:
|TEAS Content Area||Questions||Time Limit|
|English Language & Usage||28||28 minutes|
How the TEAS is scored also merits discussion. When you complete the TEAS, you will receive both an overall composite score and scores for each of the content areas. Keep in mind that because each category consists of a different number of questions, the composite score is not merely a total of the four content areas scores averaged.
Nor are the testing requirements clear-cut. That’s because each school sets its own minimum nursing school admissions exam scores. Some allow ranges of scores with higher scoring applicants granted admission first. The University of the Incarnate Word ABSN track requires applicants to have achieved a proficient score, which ATI, who administers the TEAS, defines as a 58.7% or above.
It should also be noted that UIW allows applicants to take the TEAS twice during the application cycle, with the higher composite scored accepted as final. Just remember that while receiving a “below proficient” score your first time will not disqualify you should you take it a second time, applicants who succeed on the first attempt are given priority status.
Of course, there’s another reason you want to succeed on your first try … it costs money to take the TEAS and other nursing school admissions exams. Not to mention, waiting to take the exam again could mean you’ll miss your target start date.
Preparing to Take the TEAS
One of the biggest mistakes nursing school applicants make with regard to admissions exams is to not study. Really! Often students assume that because they recently graduated from a prior degree program or completed prerequisite courses, they will do fine. Regrettably, even applicants with high GPAs make this mistake.
For this reason, we encourage all ABSN track applicants to spend several weeks studying before sitting down to take the TEAS. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there to help you prepare, some of which are free. Whether you choose to pay for test prep materials or services is up to you; however, in the event you do, it’s important to carefully evaluate your choice before opening your wallet. For example, if a TEAS test prep company’s website is riddled with typos and spelling errors, you might want to look elsewhere — reading and English language skills are both categories on the exam, after all!
One way to gauge whether you need to pay for resources is to take a free TEAS practice test. Currently, a number of test preparation companies offer free tests that mimic the format and question style of the TEAS. Make no mistake, these companies offer free TEAS practice tests as a way to sell you their test prep materials. Nonetheless, while you will likely find yourself on a few extra email lists, these free resources can give you a good idea of where you need to focus your efforts and how much you should study.
6 Free TEAS Practice Tests Worth Researching
- ATI Testing, who writes and administers the TEAS, does not offer a free test, though they do offer some free resources in addition to a variety of test prep packages.
- Study.com offers a free practice test and a detailed breakdown of the concepts addressed in each TEAS content area.
- Nursehub.com offers free practice tests for each content area, as well as a number of resources available at a cost.
- Kaplan Nursing offers free practice exam questions and a variety of courses designed to set you up for success.
- TEASPracticeTest.com offers 150 free questions with study guides available for purchase.
- Test-Guide offers a variety of free tests, as well as a full-length timed test and other resources you can access for a cost.
Of course, as mentioned earlier, it’s important to do a little bit of homework when deciding whether or not to pay for TEAS test resources. You might consider reading through some online reviews before choosing one. You might also consider one of the many TEAS preparation resources available in print, as these can be more affordable than some online study resources. As with anything, use your judgment when choosing one.
Why Do Nursing Schools Require Admissions Exams?
We already alluded to similarities between nursing admissions exams. In addition to preparing to take the TEAS or another admissions exam, it’s important to understand how these exams work and why they are required.
As the name implies, exams such as the Test of Essential Skills focus on just that, your understanding of fundamental math and science concepts, as well as your ability to read and understand complicated academic writing. All these are essential to your success in nursing school.
Looking over our accelerated nursing curriculum, it should be fairly obvious that math and science play an important role in the work of nurses. And because our ABSN track is designed for students who already hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, and, thus, who wish to earn their nursing degree as soon as possible, it’s important that you begin with the necessary baseline knowledge. (It’s for this same reason that we require students to have taken certain prerequisite courses before being admitted.)
As for the portions of these exams focusing on reading and English language comprehension, a quick glance through a few nursing textbooks should make clear why this is important. While our online coursework employs many innovative, interactive approaches to make fundamental nursing concepts easier to digest, the material is nonetheless challenging.
Additionally, nursing textbooks, as well as healthcare literature in general, require a high level of critical thinking and comprehension. Beyond your ability to understand complex material, you will also need to be able to demonstrate you have learned the concepts in written assignments. Later, once in the profession, you’ll need to be able to communicate and document important aspects of patients’ conditions and plans of care.
For all these reasons and more, schools want to make sure they are admitting only those students who are up for the challenge of nursing school. This is especially true for many traditional nursing schools, which are often forced to turn away even well-qualified applicants due to having limited seats available.
Solving the Nursing Shortage with Accelerated Learning
One of the limitations of traditional, on-campus BSN offerings is how relatively few students they can accept compared to the overwhelming demand for nurses. This often boils down to the availability of instructors and physical space.
By moving much of the traditional didactic coursework to an online format, accelerated nursing schools are able to accommodate larger class sizes while ensuring small lab and clinical class sizes. Additionally, because these programs are designed for students who already have previous degrees or college experience, it’s possible to condense the coursework into as few as 16 months.
The other benefit of this approach is that it allows schools to offer multiple cohort starts each year rather than once a year.
The 16-month ABSN track at UIW offers three starts each year, in January, May and August.
Use Your Previous Degree to Earn a BSN
If you feel called to the nursing profession and already hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you owe it to yourself to look into an accelerated nursing track. With the second-degree UIW ABSN track in San Antonio, Texas, you can earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months and graduate ready to make a positive impact on the health of your community. Give us a call, or fill out the form, to find out whether our Accelerated BSN track is right for you.