Vocabulary on the HESI Exam

Vocabulary is an important part of everyday life. From communicating a need with a loved one, to speaking to a prospective employer during a job interview, having a robust vocabulary improves your ability to accurately and efficiently state your piece and engage meaningfully with others. The same holds true in professional medical settings.

What Is Covered in HESI Vocabulary Questions?

Students taking the Health Education Systems Incorporated (HESI) exam can expect to have their vocabulary evaluated as part of the overall “English” portion of the exam. The vocabulary section comprises 50 questions, some of them devoted to medical terminology, and others devoted to standard vocabulary you might expect to find in adult settings, though not necessarily medical ones.

A Different Approach to Vocabulary

While vocabulary tests in childhood or even high school might have focused on a specific list of words, the HESI exam differs slightly from these in its approach; rather than having a specific list of nursing-based words to memorize, test-takers are expected to display a general breadth of vocabulary knowledge, including nursing and medical terms.

Why Might Your Vocabulary Be Limited?

There are many reasons for a limited vocabulary. Being with children all day can lead to consistently simplifying the words you use. Using casual discussion as the primary vehicle for your vocabulary can lead to a narrower arsenal of words and phrases. Having been out of school for even a few months can limit your immediate ability to communicate with a broad spectrum of communication tools. Reading is one of the best ways to enrich a limited vocabulary.

A Different Way to Study

To study for the different aspects of the vocabulary portion of the HESI exam, different tactics are needed. While some questions require focusing on the vocabulary expected of adults in general, others require a focus on medical terminology in particular. To adequately prepare yourself for this exam, be sure to give both types of questions equal attention.

General Vocabulary Preparation

To prepare for general vocabulary evaluation, read. Newspaper articles, medical journals, novels, and non-fiction books can all increase your ability to both recognize and use a larger range of words and phrases that might be expected of an educated adult.

Medical Terminology Preparation

To prepare to have your knowledge of medical terminology tested, read medical journals, revisit old textbooks, and examine your ability to recognize different prefixes and suffixes as you read. When you see a word start with “osteo,” for instance, make sure you immediately know what is likely being discussed. If you see the term “algia,” you must be able to identify what is being discussed. Having a firm grasp on general terms you are likely to come across in your career will help prepare you for the vocabulary section of the HESI exam.

It’s All about a Wide Range of Knowledge

Vocabulary test prep will differ from exam to exam, and the HESI exam requires test-takers to have a range of knowledge, rather than providing a distinctive and highly focused set of terms to memorize. While this can make studying seem more difficult, there is also some freedom; simply making sure you are well-read and up-to-snuff on terminology you have likely already encountered numerous times is enough to make sure you are prepared for test day.

Vocabulary on the HESI exam

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