TEAS Study Guide: 12 Tips To Use When Preparing for the Test

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 14, 2022

Published May 3, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) is an exam that measures a nursing school applicant’s academic skills. Although not every nursing program requires applicants to take the TEAS, it’s a good idea to be prepared in case you apply to a program that includes it in its admissions criteria. This preparation includes knowing what’s on the test and how to study for it.

In this article, we discuss what the TEAS is and which subjects are on the exam, and we give you a list of tips to help you prepare.

What is the TEAS?

The Test of Essential Academic Skills is a standardized exam that students may take in order to gain acceptance into nursing or allied health programs. The Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) offers the test, and it focuses on an individual's academic skills and knowledge to determine how well they might perform in a nursing program. If you pass the TEAS, your score is valid for 24 months. If you apply to programs after that 24-month time period, you will have to retake the test.

Related: 5 Steps To Get Into a Nursing Program

What is on the TEAS?

The TEAS consists of 170 multiple-choice questions, and the length of the exam is about 209 minutes. The exam focuses on foundational education subjects and is broken up into four different sections, including:

Reading

The reading section tests the individual's ability to quickly comprehend and extract vital pieces of information from larger portions of text. Having this ability can be important for nurses and other health care professionals, especially when speaking with patients and medical staff. The section often presents the test taker with written passages and then asks them a series of questions about what they just read.

Read more: How To Improve Your Reading Skills

Mathematics

The mathematics section focuses on the individual's mathematical understanding and ability to make certain calculations. These skills can help aspiring nurses as they determine medication dosages and measure vital signs throughout their careers. The section often asks questions pertaining to algebra, measurements and data.

Read more: Math Skills: Definition, Examples and How To Develop Them

Science

The science section tests an individual's knowledge and understanding of medically significant sciences such as anatomy, biology and physiology. This understanding will help future nurses perform different occupational duties and care for patients more easily. The section also includes chemistry questions and gauges overall scientific reasoning skills.

English and language usage

This last section tests individuals on their understanding of the English language and their ability to communicate effectively. Knowing how to communicate through writing and speech can help aspiring nurses relay important information to patients and accurately make additions or changes to medical records. The questions focus on the test taker's ability to understand grammar and basic sentence structure.

Tips for preparing for the TEAS

Here are 10 tips you can use to help you prepare for the TEAS:

1. Form a study group

Partnering with others who are also preparing for the TEAS can help you meet weekly study goals. When forming a study group, consider finding individuals who have different strengths in the four primary subjects. Having individuals with different strengths can help balance out the group and allow everyone to develop their knowledge simultaneously. For example, if one individual is strong in math but weak in reading, and another individual is the opposite, they can share knowledge and tutor each other in their strong subjects to better prepare themselves for the exam.

2. Know what to expect

Knowing what to expect from the test and its major subjects can help you understand how to best prepare for the exam and manage your time efficiently. The exam itself has 170 multiple-choice questions, but 20 of those questions are not included in your final score. However, you won’t know which questions these are, as the test’s creators integrate them into the exam with the 150 scored questions. The 209-minute exam breaks down as follows:

  • Reading section: 55 minutes

  • Mathematics section: 57 minutes

  • Science section: 60 minutes

  • English and language usage section: 37 minutes

Understanding how much time you have for each section can help you know how long each question or set of questions should take you and when it might be a good idea to quickly give an answer and keep going.

Related: 11 Test-Taking Strategies To Help You Score Well on an Exam

3. Take breaks

When studying, it’s important to take frequent breaks to help you retain the information you're learning. Studying for extra-long durations can sometimes have negative effects on how much material your mind absorbs. Taking active breaks, such as going for a run or walk, can help your mind rest and prepare for the next study session. It can also be helpful to know when to stop studying for the day and pick back up tomorrow. A well-rested mind and a good night's sleep can provide major benefits to your retention ability.

Related: How To Stay Self-Motivated at Work 

4. Use helpful resources

There are many TEAS resources that you can find online, such as practice tests, study guides and more, which can help you prepare for the exam. There are also beneficial test prep courses you can sign up to take, either online or in-person, which focus on teaching you important academic skills and knowledge that can help you during the test. Test prep courses can also be helpful because they often have a teacher or adviser who can answer questions and provide students with educational support.

5. Practice self-care

Taking care of yourself while studying can help you focus better on the material and feel mentally and physically prepared for the exam. When focusing on your health, it can be important to eat well, drink lots of water and get a good amount of sleep. Taking care of your physical health can help you destress and keep you relaxed while taking the exam. It can also be helpful to maintain your mental health by taking frequent study breaks and making time for social engagements.

6. Use a tutor

A tutor can focus their curriculum on your needs. Focusing their curriculum can allow tutors to target your weaker subjects and help you prepare for the exam more efficiently. For example, if a tutor notices your knowledge in science isn't as strong as your knowledge in math, they can spend more time on your science skills to improve your score in that subject.

7. Manage your time

Creating a schedule and establishing specific study times for different subjects can help you manage your time more efficiently and effectively prepare for the exam. When creating a schedule, it can help to stay consistent by studying at the same time every week. For example, setting aside time every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening can help you develop strong habits and ensure you have enough time to study before the exam.

It can also be helpful to establish which subject you will be studying every week or month because it can create an effective study plan so you don't waste time deciding which subject to practice right before you start.

Related: Time Management Training: Best Practices and Tips

8. Find printed study guides

Though online resources are helpful, using printed study guides and resources can give you additional benefits. Physical copies of study guides and books can allow users to write notes in the margins, flip to sections more quickly and highlight important information. It's possible that writing down the information and physically interacting with the material might provide you with a more effective learning approach and help you retain the knowledge more easily. 

9. Believe in yourself

Reminding yourself of your progress throughout your studies and recognizing your strengths can have a positive impact on your test performance. Confidence makes you feel more self-assured regarding your choices and time management during the exam. To build confidence throughout your preparation process, keep a log of any score or timing improvements so you can track and acknowledge your progress.

Related: How To Build Self-Confidence in 7 Steps

10. Take your time

When taking the exam, it's important to take your time and not rush through the sections or questions. Carefully reading through the questions and multiple-choice responses can help you understand the questions more thoroughly, which helps you select the correct answer. If you're nervous or stressed about time, it can be helpful to take a deep breath to try to focus before continuing with the exam.

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