HESI Exit Exam Review

Everything you need to know to ace the exam.

Are you hoping to graduate nursing school and get your RN or PN license? If so, you may very well be required to take the HESI Exit exam as part of the process.

If you’re looking for more information about this exam, you’re in the right place! On this page, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the HESI Exit exam.

What is the HESI Exit Exam?

You’re probably familiar with the HESI A2 exam, which is often used as an admission test to get you into nursing school. It’s a way for schools and allied health programs to gauge your readiness for certain programs and courses.

The HESI Exit exam is what you take toward the end of your nursing program as a way to prepare for the NCLEX exam, which is what you take to get your RN or PN license. The questions and topics on the HESI Exit exam are similar to the NCLEX, so it’s essentially a way to predict how well you might do on the NCLEX.

What’s on the HESI Exit Exam?

Every HESI Exit exam looks a little different depending on the school/program. Most versions of the exam contain about 160 questions, though some may only have around 75, and the time limit for the exam varies.

As mentioned earlier, the content of the exam matches the current NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN test outlines:

NCLEX-RN Exam Outline

  1. Coordinated Care
  2. Safety and Infection Control
  3. Health Promotion and Maintenance
  4. Psychosocial Integrity
  5. Basic Care and Comfort
  6. Pharmacological Therapies
  7. Reduction of Risk Potential
  8. Physiological Adaptation

NCLEX-PN Exam Outline

  1. Management of Care
  2. Safety and Infection Control
  3. Health Promotion and Maintenance
  4. Psychosocial Integrity
  5. Basic Care and Comfort
  6. Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
  7. Reduction of Risk Potential
  8. Physiological Adaptation

The types of questions on the exam range from multiple-choice and multiple-response to hot spot and fill-in-the-blank.

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HESI Exit Exam Registration

Your nursing school will have specific instructions and deadlines for registration. They generally handle the registration process directly, but they may provide you with the necessary information to register yourself.

In either case, you’ll likely need to pay a testing fee, which will differ depending on your school or program.

HESI Exit Exam Score Range

HESI Exit exam scores generally range from 300 to 1500. Just like the HESI A2 exam, there is no universal passing score for this exam. Its sole purpose is to gauge your readiness for the NCLEX.

According to a study published by the Journal of Professional Nursing, students who achieve a final score of at least 850 on the exit exam have an NCLEX pass rate of 96.33%. Students with a final score lower than 850 have a pass rate of 86.57%.

How to Pass the HESI Exit Exam

How to Study Effectively

Your success on test day depends not only on how many hours you put into preparing but also on whether you prepared the right way. It’s good to check along the way to see whether your studying is paying off. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking HESI Exit exam practice tests to evaluate your progress. Practice tests are useful because they show exactly where you need to improve. Every time you take a HESI Exit exam practice test, pay special attention to these three groups of questions:

  • The questions you got wrong
  • The ones you had to guess on, even if you guessed right
  • The ones you found difficult or slow to work through

This will show you exactly what your weak areas are and where you need to devote more study time. Ask yourself why each of these questions gave you trouble. Was it because you didn’t understand the material? Was it because you didn’t remember the vocabulary? Do you need more repetitions on this type of question to build speed and confidence? Dig into those questions and figure out how you can strengthen your weak areas as you go back to review the material.

Answer Explanations

Additionally, many practice tests have a section explaining the answer choices. It can be tempting to read the explanation and think that you now have a good understanding of the concept. However, an explanation likely only covers part of the question’s broader context. Even if the explanation makes sense, go back and investigate every concept related to the question until you’re positive you have a thorough understanding.

Comprehend Each Topic

As you go along, keep in mind that the practice test is just that: practice. Memorizing these questions and answers will not be very helpful on the actual test because it is unlikely to have any of the same exact questions. If you only know the right answers to the sample questions, you won’t be prepared for the real thing. Study the concepts until you understand them fully, and then you’ll be able to answer any question that shows up on the test.

Retaking the HESI Exit Exam

If you didn’t get the score you were hoping for, some schools will allow you to take the exam again. The number of allowed retakes and the timeframe for retaking will vary depending on the school/program.



How is the HESI Exit exam scored?


The final score for the exam is a scaled score, generally ranging from 300-1500.


How hard is the HESI Exit exam?


The exam is considered to be somewhat hard but not overly difficult with enough studying done beforehand.


How long is the HESI Exit exam?


The length of the exam is different for each school/program, but a 4-hour time limit is common.


How many questions are on the HESI Exit exam?


The number of questions varies but generally ranges from 75 to 160.


Can I fail the HESI Exit exam and still take the NCLEX?


Failing the HESI Exit exam doesn’t necessarily prevent you from taking the NCLEX exam, but you should consider retaking it before attempting the NCLEX. A failing score on the HESI suggests you may struggle with the NCLEX as well.

By Kate Nockunas

Kate has been Mometrix’s Nursing and Medical Editor for over four years. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Vanderbilt University, a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Marymount University, and a master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins. Kate is a critical care registered nurse who still works occasionally in the ICU and PACU.

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: June 17, 2024