So you want to go to nursing school – your first step is to pass the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS).

While high school students need a good SAT test score to be accepted into college, law school aspirants the LSAT and potential graduate students the GMAT, nursing students need to get an acceptable TEAS score to be admitted into most nursing programs.

TEAS Basics

What does the TEAS test cover? Created by the Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI), the TEAS is a multiple choice test with 170 questions on four subject areas: reading, math, science, and English and language use.

By subject, you can expect to see the following types of questions on the exam:

Math- covers whole numbers, metric conversion, fractions and decimals, algebraic equations, percentages, and ratio/proportion.
Reading– covers paragraph comprehension, and passage comprehension.
English- covers grammar, sentence structure, spelling and punctuation.
Science- covers biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology (A&P), physical principles, and general science.

How long is the test, and where can I take it? Students have about 3.5 hours (or specifically, 209 minutes according to the ATI website) to complete the test, which is offered in most cities at testing centers across the country. No calculators are allowed, and you’ll find out your score within two days of submitting your test.

How do I register for TEAS? This is simple – the registration goes through the ATI website http://www.atitesting.com/Solutions/PreNursingSchool/TEAS.aspx

How much does it cost? The TEAS costs different amounts at different testing sites. The range is wide, from $35-$110. Check with the nursing programs you are interested in applying for, as some of them offer the TEAS on the premises, and may offer a special deal for students.

TIP: Read through your desired school’s TEAS guidelines – some may require you to take the test onsite, or pay an additional fee to transfer it to their school.

Most importantly, please do check with your specific programs’ TEAS guidelines, because although the test is a national test, different schools use the TEAS differently. For example, there are technically two TEAS tests out now, TEAS 3.0/4.0 and TEAS V. Some schools require the TEAS V, others require the earlier version.  Research your desired nursing program’s TEAS requirements before signing up for the test or buying any study materials.

Prepping for the TEAS

After determining whether your school requires TEAS version 3.0/4.0 or version V, it’s best to study and take a few practice exams before submitting the real thing. The main advice from those with TEAS experience: the test goes fast, so don’t spend too much time on any one question.

Official study guides: Not surprisingly, ATI, the TEAS test makers, also sell a comprehensive study guide and two practice tests to help people familiarize themselves with the test format, for $88. If that’s too steep for you, used editions of the study guide, called the TEAS V Study Manual, are available on Amazon.com for a fraction of the cost.

Study books: A cheaper study option is to pick up one of a series of study books available in any bookstore, or on Amazon.com, geared towards the TEAS test. Popular titles that get favorable reviews on nursing chat rooms include Secrets of the TEAS Exam and the Kaplan Nursing School Exam, among others.

Free online practice exams: There are some online study options available that can at least help you acclimate to the test with practice questions for each section, check out these websites for details.

http://www.testpreppractice.net/TEAS/teas-test-preparation.aspx
http://www.testprepreview.com/nursing_practice.htm

After you take the TEAS exam

Once you’ve taken the test, you should get results within 48 hours.  Some post-test questions that might pop up:

What is a good score? An acceptable score varies from program to program, and sometimes from year to year, but is generally no lower than 65 percent, according to a random scan of selected nursing program requirements. Still, the acceptable score level can vary widely from program to program: some nursing schools require at least an 80 percent to be accepted.

Retakes: If you aren’t happy with your score, you can retake the test, but once again, refer to your program’s TEAS rules to find out what the specific parameters are – some schools only let you retake it once, and some require you wait six weeks or longer before taking it again.  You cannot take the best subsections from different tests and combine those to make one score.

Remember to get enough sleep, eat a good breakfast, and give yourself plenty of time to get to the exam center. The TEAS may seem like a hurdle, but if you study for it and take care of your body, the exam should go smoothly. Good luck!

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