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Don’t Fear the TEAS Test: 5 Common Questions Answered

TEAS test tips

For many considering nursing school, there is one hurdle standing in the way: the TEAS test. If you’re the type to get a little nervous about tests, then it’s understandable if you have some questions you’re seeking answers for.

What is the TEAS test? What’s on the TEAS test? How do you prepare for the TEAS test?

We’re here to help! In this article, we’ll answer all of these common questions and more. Knowing this information upfront will help you feel confident and ready to conquer the TEAS exam.

What is the TEAS test?

The TEAS test, or the Test of Essential Academic Skills, is a standardized test commonly used to judge a student’s readiness for enrollment in healthcare-related college programs. This is a very common requirement to get into Nursing school, so you’d be wise to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the TEAS exam.

At this point you’re probably wondering, “Is the TEAS test hard to pass?” The truth is that the difficulty of this nursing entrance exam will depend on the person. But if you’re prepared and know what to expect, then your chances of passing will likely increase. To start, let’s take a closer look at the TEAS test format.

What does the TEAS exam consist of?

One of the most important TEAS test tips we can give is to familiarize yourself with the exam format so you know what to expect on test day. You’ll be glad to hear that the format of the TEAS exam is similar to other standardized tests you’ve likely taken in your life. According to the Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI), the TEAS test consists of 170 multiple-choice questions covering a variety of subjects to be answered in 209 minutes.

The bulk of what you’ll need to know for the TEAS test is tied to the foundational education subjects commonly found in high school curriculums. ATI shares that the test covers material that students are expected to have acquired from their secondary education in the following areas:

  • Reading:
    • Number of questions: 53
    • Allotted time: 64 minutes
    • Areas assessed include key ideas and details, craft and structure, and integration of knowledge and ideas.
  • Mathematics:
    • Number of questions: 36
    • Allotted time: 54 minutes
    • Areas assessed include numbers, algebra and data interpretation and measurement.
  • Science:
    • Number of questions: 53
    • Allotted time: 63 minutes
    • Areas assessed include human anatomy and physiology, life and physical sciences, and scientific reasoning.
  • English:
    • Number of questions: 28
    • Allotted time: 28 minutes
    • Areas assessed include conventions of Standard English, knowledge of language and vocabulary acquisition.

How can I prepare for the TEAS test? 4 exam tips

The TEAS test is important, which is why you shouldn’t take studying lightly. If you want to pass it on your first attempt, then you should plan on devoting plenty of time and energy into preparing.

But how do you study for the TEAS test? Consider this advice.

1. 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. This will help you get familiar with the exam content and format so you’re better prepared the next time you take it—when you’re actually applying for nursing school.

2. Register at least two weeks ahead of time

Another smart TEAS test tip is to register for the exam early. While you can do plenty of independent preparation beforehand, ATI (the test’s administrators) may send you a study guide and other important materials 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 when it matters most to keep a calm head.

3. Utilize TEAS test prep resources

No matter how confident you feel going into the exam, test prep resources can help. The Rasmussen College Library and Learning Services team has compiled several excellent TEAS test resources that can be incredibly useful when preparing.

While it may cost a little extra to access test prep materials from ATI, it's not a bad idea to take a TEAS practice test at the very beginning of your studying. This will give you a better idea of which areas you’ll need to focus on most in the weeks to come. Once you’ve pinpointed your focus areas, it’s time to hit the books. The more you review the material, the more prepared you’ll be on exam day.

As you close in on the date of your scheduled exam, consider retaking the TEAS practice test on the ATI website one last time. This will benchmark your improvement and highlight any final areas of difficulty that need extra attention before exam day.

4. Review the fundamentals

As we mentioned above, the questions asked in the TEAS exam cover concepts you’ve more than likely been exposed to in your education thus far. That means you can cover a lot of ground by reviewing the fundamentals.

For math, can you translate fractions to decimals? Do you have your order of operations memorized? For science, have you reviewed basic biology concepts? Can you balance an equation in chemistry? Do you know your anatomy and physiology?

For the English and reading sections, take time to review punctuation and grammar rules and practice filtering out what is or isn’t relevant in a selected reading. These are all things you’ve done at some point in your life—just be sure to brush up on these fundamentals concepts, especially if you’ve been out of practice for a while.

What should I do on the day of the TEAS exam?

Before you know it, the day you’ve been preparing for will be here. This is where all of your nights spent studying for the TEAS test 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. Additionally, it is important to stay hydrated and keep your body running smoothly.

If you’re unfamiliar with the testing location, take the time to scout out the area ahead of time—you don’t want to find out at the last second if parking space is limited and you now need an extra ten minutes to get settled. You’ve got enough on your mind that you don’t need minor worries adding unnecessary stress.

Finally, if you take nothing else from these day-of preparations, remember this one: Do not 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 along 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 to conquer the TEAS test?

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 tips in mind as you embark on your journey into the nursing field. You may also want to start planning which nursing credential you’ll want to pursue upon completing the TEAS exam. Learn more about your options in our article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Different Levels of Nursing Credentials.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in October 2013. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020.

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen College. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

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