Do You Have to Take the TEAS Test to Become a Surgical Tech? + Other Entrance Requirement FAQs
By Brianna Flavin on 11/02/2023
Surgical technologists (also called surgical techs or operating room technicians) are key players in the operating room. Surgical techs protect surgical sites and environments, overseeing surgical tools and the overall safety of the operating room.
Becoming a surgical technologist usually means graduating from an associate degree program in surgical technology and passing a certification exam. But before you can get there, you need to get into one of those surgical technologist programs.
The TEAS test is a standard exam many health science and other allied health programs use as an entrance requirement.
Since nursing schools often also require the TEAS, it can be hard to sort through all the noise to find out if you need to pass this exam to get into a surgical technologist program.
Some students come to surgical technology after they’ve already tried other jobs and career paths. Some come straight from high school. Maybe it's been a minute since you last took a standardized exam.
Whatever your circumstances are, healthcare needs surgical technologists. We want to make it easier to sort out the entrance requirements for health education schools and programs like surgical technology. There's no need for extra barriers in your way and the way of future patients who need surgical procedures that are safe and sterile.
*Note: some assume the “tech” in surgical technology to mean surgical technician. But the standard job title is surgical technologist.
Here are the details on what you need to enroll in education for surgical technology.
If you could see yourself as a surgical tech, use this as your checklist while you get started on your healthcare career path.
Do you have to take the TEAS to become a surgical tech?
Usually, yes, you need to take the TEAS to get into a surgical technology associate degree program, though it is up to each university. For Rasmussen’s Surgical Technologist program, you need to take the TEAS for admittance unless you qualify for an exception.
“Some students are exempt from the TEAS based on their previous education,” says Krista Vylasek, Program Coordinator and Professor in Rasmussen’s Surgical Technology program.
Exceptions to the TEAS surgical tech program admissions requirement are…
- If you took the HESI A2® exam and earned a composite score of 75% or higher, completed within 365 days of a signed enrollment agreement and transferred to Rasmussen at your expense
- If you already have a health-science-related associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, awarded within the past five years, where you earned a cumulative 2.0 GPA or higher.
- If you’ve completed 20 quarter credits in college-level health sciences, the natural sciences or math in the last five years, earning at least a C in each course. One Composition or Communication course may be applied to meet this requirement. For coursework to be considered, it must comply with the Transfer of Credit Policies of the University
If one of these exceptions might apply to your situation, get all the specific details from the Course Catalog to see if you qualify.
Otherwise, you need to take the ATI® TEAS test.
If you want to become a certified surgical technologist, there are a few critical benchmarks you need to hit. And the first one is taking the TEAS test for surgical tech programs.
Where can I take the TEAS test for a surgical tech program?
Since each university sets their own requirements for surgical technology, it’s a good idea to contact your program directly to find out exactly where you should go.
For Rasmussen, prospective surgical tech students can take the TEAS on campus for the following locations:
- Central Pasco Campus – Odessa, Florida
- Rockford Campus – Rockford, Illinois
- Romeoville/Joliet Campus – Romeoville, Illinois
- Hennepin/Anoka Campus – Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
You can also take the TEAS at specified testing locations. Talk to a program coordinator to ask about these options.
What TEAS score do I need for a surgical technologist program?
For admittance into Rasmussen’s surgical technology program, you need to score a 48.5% or higher on the TEAS exam, according to Tony Possley, AVP of Campus Operations.
Many allied health education programs (like surgical technology, radiologic technology and surgical assisting) use the TEAS to gauge students’ readiness for the work of their programs.
Surgical technology is a critical role where mistakes or inattention can have dangerous consequences. Surgical technology programs often move at a rigorous pace, to ensure surgical techs have all the skills they will need.
Taking the TEAS test seriously and putting in some study time can help indicate that you are ready to take your role as a surgical tech seriously.
If you take the TEAS test by computer, you should see your results immediately after you finish. These will be posted under your ATI account online.1
If you took a paper and pencil version of the ATI TEAS test, ATI will score your exam and post the results within 48 business hours of the exam.1
What are the entrance requirements for a surgical tech program?
Core admissions requirements for Rasmussen's Surgical Technologist program are...
- Scoring a 48.5% on the TEAS exam (or submitting the documentation needed for exemption)
- Holding a high school diploma or GED (attestation of high school graduation or equivalency) Note: your high school GPA does not matter for admittance to the surgical tech program, according to Possley
- Agreeing to a background screening
- Completing and signing the application
- Reviewing and signing the enrollment agreement
You can find these requirements and the full details of TEAS test exemption in the Rasmussen Course Catalog, Surgical Technologist program page.
“The basic entrance requirements are what really matter,” Vylasek says. “I interview students to admit them to the program, but that’s more about getting to know everyone. If you’ve met the core requirements, that’s what you need to have.”
Are there any standardized tests within the surgical tech program?
For most of the surgical technologist program at Rasmussen, you’ll have weekly quizzes and some exams, Vylasek says.
But at the end of the program, students take the national surgical technologist certification exam. This exam is called the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting-Certified Surgical Technologist (NBSTSA®-CST) exam.
This certification is required for graduates to start work as a surgical technologist. Vylasek says they will do three different reviews and practice exams at the Hennepin campus. “I schedule the NBSTSA-CST two days before graduation, and the students take it here on campus.”
This certification exam is a proctored exam (by an NBSTSA proctor). It’s not a requirement for graduation, Vylasek explains. But obviously, students will want to pass this and obtain their surgical technologist certification from the NBSTSA.
Taking the TEAS can be a good way to get used to this type of testing and lay some groundwork for the critical exam you’ll need to pass to work on a surgical team.
Why do you want to become a surgical technologist?
It’s not very often you’ll hear a kindergartner say they want to be a surgical technologist when they grow up. Surgical techs are far less in the limelight than other healthcare careers, but working as a surgical technologist can be fascinating for the right kind of person.
You get to work in the operating room, oversee surgical equipment and other surgical instruments.
And of course, surgical technologists are part of the healthcare team that saves and protects lives. This career is important in every sense of the word. But it’s also important to understand why you are interested.
“The first thing I ask prospective students is why they are choosing surgical tech,” Vylasek says. “I like to know why you are interested and what you know about the field.”
Do you have a reason?
If so, we want to hear about it. Check out Rasmussen’s Surgical Technologist Program and request information about tuition cost, locations, clinical placements and more.
Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)® is a registered trademark of The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)
ATI® is a registered trademark of ASSESSMENT TECHNOLOGIES INSTITUTE, L.L.C. LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY DELAWARE 11161 Overbrook Road Leawood KANSAS 66211
NBSTSA® is a registered trademark of NATIONAL BOARD OF SURGICAL TECHNOLOGY AND SURGICAL ASSISTING NON-PROFIT CORPORATION COLORADO Suite 100 6 West Dry Creek Circle Littleton COLORADO 80120
HESI A2® is a registered trademark of ELSEVIER INC. CORPORATION NEW YORK 360 PARK AVENUE SOUTH NEW YORK NEW YORK 10010
1 When will I get my ATI TEAS Score?, ATI, (date accessed: 10/19/2023) https://help.atitesting.com/when-will-i-get-my-ati-teas-score