Recently, I passed my HESI. For those that do not know, Health Education Systems Incorporated or HESI, is an exam taken in nursing school. Some schools require it every semester without counting it towards their grade. However, most schools that I know require HESI at the last semester in order to graduate – this would be called HESI exit exam. In my school, we can only take it up to 3 times. If we do not pass by the third time, the school asks us to return the next semester to take it. As for the score, we had to get at least 800 to pass overall but will be asked to retake it until we get 900 or more. Some schools require a score of at least 900 in order to pass HESI. According to Elsevier (the writers of HESI), a minimum score of 900 shows that newly graduated nurses pass the NCLEX (American nursing licensure exam) once.

Now, let’s get onto what you’re really here for!By the last semester, nursing students already know the content as they’ve had their specialty courses already (unless they’re in MCPHS!). The challenge in HESI is really how you take the exam. HESI has a lot of prioritization and delegation questions. We all know the acronym ABCS (airway, breathing, circulation, safety) but what happens when those are cleared? Which one would you prioritize? Risk of fluid overload or risk for injury? The answer to this dilemma? PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! I cannot emphasize that enough. But which resource should you use? Below, I will briefly outline my adventures in finding the right resource(s) and its results as shown in my scores:

HESI 1 score: 777

  • Resource(s):
    • NCLEX mastery app (USD 30.00): 1,700+ questions, plans, mnemonics, terminologies, and skills
    • yourbestgrade.com (USD 97.00): 10 30-practice questions and 6 full HESI exams; specialty questions; exam review
  • Downfalls:
    • Did not practice on the week of the exam at all as I was tired of constantly practicing over the break.
    • Constantly on night shifts.
    • Did not review rationales at the end of the exam.
    • Did not utilize yourbestgrade to its full potential.

HESI 2 score: 722

  • Resource(s):
  • Downfalls:
    • Evening shifts at work and night shifts at clinical.
    • School’s requirement of remediation which was ALL content and very little practice questions.
    • Low morale.
  • Observations:
    • Practiced more questions.
    • Reviewed rationale at the end of the exam.

HESI 3 score: 948

  • Resource(s):
  • Downfalls:
    • Being tired all the time.
    • Having “meh” feelings and just having a lazy feel on most days.
    • Only practiced 60 questions a day for 4 times a week.
    • Fatigue.
  • Observations:
    • Used extra paper to dissect questions.
    • Practiced at least 100 questions a day on the week of the exam.
    • Accepting potential consequences.
    • Recited questions (in whisper).
    • Mostly used Kaplan and only used 1 Elsevier online exam (Comprehensive exam A).
    • Learned to let go of a previously answered question knowing I got it wrong.

Each resource cost quite a bit of money but most yielded negative outcomes. Some pass the HESI just by reviewing content; some pass just by using 1 resource over and over despite its repetitiveness; and some use various resources to “find themselves” like me. Fortunately, I found Kaplan and super passed HESI. With Kaplan, their rationale was short and sweet. They don’t overload my brain with too much information unlike other resources. If the options were wrong, they would cross it off as inappropriate, stable, unstable, etc. – usually 1 to 2 words unless it requires a bit more thought. Another factor was that Kaplan includes a strategy portion and further explains the strategy for each question – usually about 3 sentences long.

Recommendation(s):

  1. Use Kaplan indefinitely! Use it in exam mode whenever you practice as that can save you time and learn to time manage as well. Be sure to read their 5-step decision tree. This tree helped me out in prioritization so much!
  2. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE
  3. Be confident!
  4. Dissect questions on a piece of paper! It will be your best friend!
  5. Learn to let go. Take a minute to convince yourself that dwelling on the past won’t change anything.
  6. Sleep is always good! You don’t want to be taking the exam sleepy and panicky.
  7. Learn to accept failure. When you do that, it will force you to NOT hold back on this exam.
  8. Trust your instincts. Second guess yourself and you’re done.
  9. Recite your questions so you can understand the question more thoroughly. Try to pick a spot where no one will sit next to you.

I really hope this helps you pass the HESI! Good luck! Remember to use Kaplan!

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