Don't Fear the TEAS Test: Expert Tips to Help You Pass it on the First Try

teas test tips

For many considering nursing school, there is one hurdle standing in the way: the dreaded TEAS test. And we totally get it – entrance exams can be intimidating! You’re definitely not alone in having a few hesitations.

As a requirement to get into nursing school, there’s no way of getting around taking the TEAS test. But we’re here to show you that there is no reason to be afraid. With the right preparation and a few tips from nurses who have been there, you can approach the test with confidence before continuing your pursuit of a quality nursing education.

It’s time to put your fears of the TEAS test behind you! Here is some helpful information, as well as a few valuable tips to help you pass the test with flying colors.

TEAS test components

The TEAS test, or the Test of Essential Academic Skills, is a pre-admittance test administered through the Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) Nursing Education. Colleges and universities utilize the test to screen prospective students’ ability to be successful in a nursing program.

ATI allots 209 minutes, or approximately four hours, to complete the multiple-choice exam. The TEAS test covers material that students should have acquired from their secondary education in the following areas:

  • Reading: 42 items / 58 minutes

Topics: paragraph & source comprehension

  • Mathematics: 30 items / 51 minutes

Topics: algebra, order of operations, data interpretation & measurement

  • Science: 48 items / 66 minutes

Topics: human body, life science, physical science & scientific reasoning

  • English language & usage: 30 items / 34 minutes

Topics: grammar & context, spelling, punctuation & structure

How to prepare for the TEAS test

Take the TEAS test early

Even if you’re not quite ready to apply for nursing school, it can be helpful to take the TEAS test at the very beginning of your undergraduate studies during your first year of college, suggests Karla Mitchell, current nursing student and administrative assistant at Nevada State College.

“That way you’re familiar with the test, and therefore better prepared for the next time you take it – when you’re actually applying for nursing school,” she says. Mitchell’s strategy was not only to take the test at the beginning of college, but then to take it once more at least 95 days before her application to nursing school was due. That way if she didn’t pass, she had time to take it again before applying.

Register at least two weeks ahead of time

One of the keys to success is registering for the TEAS test early, says Amy Matthys, dean of the RN to BSN program at Rasmussen College. While you can do plenty of independent preparation beforehand, ATI will send you a study guide once you do officially register for the test.

Providing yourself with that extra time can help you stay calm and collected as you parse through the study guide materials. Going into the test stressed out will only lead to more stress as you’re actually checking off the answers to those multiple choice questions when it matters most.

Utilize the ATI resources

Both Mitchell and Matthys feel strongly on this one. ATI offers several resources that can be useful when preparing for the TEAS test, including practice tests and additional study guides.

Matthys recommends taking the practice test at the very beginning of your studying so you know the areas on which you’ll need to focus most in the weeks that follow. Once you’ve pinpointed your focus areas, it’s time to hit the books! The more you review the material, the more confident you’ll be on exam day.

Mitchell suggests that nursing hopefuls focus on the basics of math and science in their preparation. “There are questions on the test from courses students take in the first semester of their freshman year, such as biology, math and English,” she says. You may already be better prepared than you think, but it never hurts to review what you’ve already learned!

As you close in on the date of your scheduled exam, Matthys asserts the importance of retaking the practice test on the ATI website one last time. This will benchmark your improvement and highlight any final areas that need strengthening.

What to do on the day of the TEAS test

Before you know it, the day you’ve been preparing for weeks will suddenly be here. This is where all of your nights spent scouring study guides and poring over practice tests will pay off! But there are still a few final things you can do on that day to set you up for success.

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep and eat a well-balanced breakfast the morning of your exam. Some of the best foods for your brain include eggs, salmon, green tea and acai berries. It is equally important to stay hydrated!

“Just a two percent decrease in hydration can affect our mental abilities,” according to Jonathon Steele, RN and executive director of WaterCures.org. “In nursing, it is called fluid and electrolyte balance.” 

If you want to take your hydration to the next level, Steele suggests the following regimen to properly hydrate your brain: dissolve a pinch of unprocessed salt (Himalayan Pink Salt, Real Salt, etc.) on your tongue, then drink a full glass of water. Doing this 45 minutes before your test can ensure your mind is in its sharpest possible state.

Finally, if you take nothing else from these day-of preparations, remember this one: Don’t be late!

ATI will not let you begin the test after the designated start time. There are also a few things ATI requires that you bring with you on exam day: a No. 2 pencil, your registration receipt with the ATI testing ID number and a valid photo ID.

Are you ready for your entrance exam to nursing school?

There is no reason to fear the TEAS test as long as you plan ahead. But don’t discard this article once you’ve passed the exam! The preparation techniques outlined here will also be helpful when you’re approaching the certification test at the end of your nursing program – the NCLEX.

Keep these TEAS test preparation techniques in mind as you embark on your journey into nursing. In the meantime, find inspiration from seasoned nurses to solidify your passion for pursuing this rewarding career: The Best Day on the Job: 4 Nursing Stories that Prove it’s All Worth it.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in October 2013. It has since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2016. Insight from Amy Matthys remains from the original article.

 

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Jess is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education. She researches and writes student-focused content on behalf of Rasmussen College. As a trained and published poet, she loves discovering new ways to use her writing as a tool to further the education of others.

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