Anatomy and Physiology
Anatomy and physiology are perhaps the most fundamental areas for a nurse to study. Anatomy is the area of study in-between biology and medicine that considers the structure of the body. Physiology is the scientific study of how the body and its organs and cells work. Understanding the location of parts of the human body is critical. A nurse must understand how each part of the body works in order to deliver the best patient outcome. Simply knowing where the heart is located is not enough, you must understand how the heart works, and how the other systems that depend on it work in conjunction. The Anatomy and Physiology section of the HESI exam should take about 25 minutes, and is part of the larger science section which is comprised of 30 questions (25 scored and 5 pilot).
Biology is the study of living organisms and in order to understand anatomy and physiology a nurse must first grasp the science of biology. While you may not use your knowledge of biology directly every day, biology serves as a prerequisite before moving on to other sciences such as anatomy, physiology, and microbiology. The Biology section of the HESI exam should take about 25 minutes and is part of the broader science section, which asks 30 questions in total (though only 25 actually count in your score). Be sure to study items such as cells, water, molecules, metabolism, and photosynthesis.
While chemistry may not seem relevant to nursing, it’s more applicable than you might think. A nurse must understand the actions and effects of the medication she is providing, as well as potential interactions that can occur with other medications or foods. Having a solid foundation in chemistry is key to understanding how certain drugs interact, which directly affects patient outcomes. Advancing your career into more specialized fields will require you to possess not only an understanding of basic chemistry, but perhaps organic or physical chemistry as well. The Chemistry section of the HESI exam should take about 25 minutes and is part of the science section, which asks 30 questions in total (though only 25 are actually scored). Be sure to study the periodic table, atoms, and chemical and molecular bonding.
Grammar is very important to all nurses. When a patient’s life is on the line, a simple slip of the tongue can make all the difference. Understanding grammar is a key part of having good communication skills for any job, but in the role of a nurse as the patient advocate, communication is especially important. Be sure to review parts of speech and common grammatical errors when you study. The Grammar section of the HESI is part of the 55 question English section, and should take around an hour to complete.
All nurses and nursing students will use mathematics for a number of calculations in nearly every area of their jobs. From Urology to Gastroenterology, nurses will use math to conduct dimensional analysis, read and analyze patient charts, make medication and weight conversions, and carry out day-to-day functions. For the math section of the HESI exam, be sure to study addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, conversions, and ratios. The exam asks 55 questions and should take about 50 minutes. Five are considered pilot questions so you will only be scored on 50 of the questions you answer.
Physics is one of the most basic sciences and serves to give nurses a deeper scientific understanding of the other scientific disciplines, such as biology. Physics relates to many areas in nursing such as radiation, which is applicable to oncology and x-rays, and the study of waves, which applies to ECG’s and EEG’s. This section is NOT required by most nursing schools so be sure to check your school’s requirements before you begin studying for this section of the HESI exam.
Most careers require a firm grasp of reading and writing. In nursing, having above average reading comprehension skills is paramount to your success. If you cannot read a chart and immediately understand everything that is written, you could be endangering the lives of your patients. Nurses need to read, and read at a high level, in order to function in a professional manner. For this section of the HESI you will be asked to read short passages, make inferences, and identify word meaning and main idea. The Reading Comprehension section should take about an hour and is part of the larger English section, which is comprised of 55 questions (50 of which count towards your score).
Nurses with a greater range in their vocabulary have greater chances of communicating correctly than those who do not. In the operating room or on the floor, nurses need to be able to communicate effectively and having a robust vocabulary is a key part of being able to do that. As you prepare for the Vocabulary section of the HESI exam, be sure to study common vocabulary test words from both the real world and the medical field. The Vocabulary section of the test should take about 50 minutes and is part of the broader English section.The English section asks a total of 55 questions, 50 of which actually count towards your score.
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