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TEAS Study Guide: Everything You Need to Know About the Test

Posted by Hayley Milliman | Dec 11, 2019 6:00:00 PM

General Education



Do you want to be a nurse? Then you’ll need to take the TEAS test. In this article, we’ll cover what the TEAS exam is, who takes the TEAS test, and give you a mini TEAS study guide so you’re ready to pass your test.


What Is the TEAS Test?

TEAS stands for Test of Essential Academic Skills. The TEAS test is a standardized test used to determine whether you’re ready to enroll in a healthcare-related program. Your TEAS score is one part of your application for nursing school.


Who Takes the TEAS Test?

People who take the TEAS test are preparing to apply for nursing school or another health-care related program. The TEAS exam is a standardized test, but it’s not ubiquitously required at all nursing programs. Like the SAT or ACT, individual nursing programs can choose whether or not they require candidates to submit TEAS scores.

Some nursing programs require TEAS test scores, while others require scores from the NET, HESI, or just SAT or ACT scores. Typically, undergraduate programs require the TEAS test, while associate’s programs just require your GPA. That being said, you should confirm your program of choice’s requirements before applying.

Applying to nursing school can be extremely competitive, so having a high TEAS score can help you appear more attractive as an applicant. A high TEAS score, combined with great recommendations and a solid GPA, will make your nursing school application stand out to an admissions committee.


TEAS Exam Format and Scoring

The TEAS exam has four components outlined in the chart below.

Subject Number of Questions Time Allotted Content Tested
Reading 53 64 Areas assessed include key ideas and details, craft and structure, and integration of knowledge and ideas.
Mathematics 36 54 Areas assessed include numbers, algebra and data interpretation and measurement.
Science 53 63 Areas assessed include human anatomy and physiology, life and physical sciences, and scientific reasoning.
English Language 28 28 Areas assessed include conventions of Standard English, knowledge of language and vocabulary acquisition.
Total Exam 170 questions 216 minutes  


When you take the TEAS exam, you’ll receive a Total Score, Content Area scores (Reading, Math, Science, and English) and Sub-Content Area Scores (such as Key Ideas, Details, Craft, and Structure). Each score type ranges from 0 to 100%, but all are calculated differently.

Your Total Score (also referred to as your Composite Score) is your main TEAS exam score. Your Composite Score is what most programs will look at to determine eligibility. You’ll typically need to score at least 70% on your Composite, or Total, Score to be a competitive candidate at most nursing programs. Some schools also look specifically at your Reading Comprehension Content Area score.

Every school has different admission requirements, though, so it’s best to check to see what they are before applying.


Is the TEAS Test Hard?

Just like the SAT or ACT, the TEAS exam tests material that you should have learned during high school. You’re not expected to know any advanced or college-level material.

That being said, some people do find the TEAS test difficult. Some people struggle with standardized tests in general, so they have a hard time taking the TEAS exam. Others struggle because the TEAS exam covers a wide variety of topics, from reading to math.

The TEAS exam is designed to be rigorous because nursing school is rigorous. The difficulty of the test allows nursing schools to assess whether or not you’re prepared for their program. While the concepts it tests might be simple, the questions themselves vary in difficulty.


TEAS Study Guide: Sample Questions

There are many resources to help you prepare for the TEAS Exam. Check out our article on TEAS practice tests to learn more. Below, you can find sample questions for each of the sections of the TEAS Exam.


TEAS Study Guide: Sample Reading Question

Answer the question that follows.

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Which of the following is a unique benefit of this group-funding program?

A. The donation is tax-deductible.

B. Your donation helps others.

C. You can know where your money goes.

d. You can help train new teachers

Answer: C


TEAS Study Guide: Sample Math Question

Simplify the expression below. Which of the following is correct?

5,344 - 57

A. 5,277

B. 5,283

C. 5,287

D. 5,288

Answer: C




TEAS Study Guide: Sample Science Question

An unknown element is found to contain 45 protons and an atomic mass of 64, what is its atomic number?

A. It cannot be determined

B. 19

C. 45

D. 64

Answer: C


TEAS Study Guide: Sample English Language & Usage Question

Which sentence is written correctly?

A. Since the professor was excessively boring; many of his students fell asleep.

B. Since the professor was excessively boring, many of his students fell asleep.

C. Since the professor was excessively boring many of his students fell asleep.

D. Since the professor was, excessively boring, many of his students fell asleep.

Answer: B


How Do You Register for the TEAS Test?

Here’s what you should know before you get ready to register for the TEAS exam and choose your TEAS test dates:

  1. The application deadline for the nursing programs you’re applying to
  2. The score you need on your TEAS exam to apply
  3. The last date you can submit your TEAS scores to your programs
  4. The location where you want to take your TEAS test.

Once you have that information, you’re ready to register. Here are the steps you should follow to register:

  1. Go to the ATI website and create an account.
  2. Follow the registration prompts to complete your registration.
  3. Once you’ve successfully registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email confirming the date and time of your exam.

Typically, it takes between 48-72 hours to receive your TEAS scores. That means you need to register for a test that’s at least three days before your scores are due to your application sites.


What TEAS Score Do You Need for Nursing School?

There is no standard score for passing the TEAS: the score you need for nursing school will depend on the school you’re applying to and how competitive of an applicant you want to be. Your TEAS exam score will be used in conjunction with the other parts of your application to see if you’d be a good fit for the program.

That being said, some nursing programs have minimum TEAS score requirements that you can find on the program’s website or by calling the admissions office. These minimum passing scores do not guarantee you admission, but they ensure that the admissions committee will consider your application.

Here are some examples of minimum score requirements for the TEAS exam:

Institution Minimum TEAS requirement for admission
Excelsior College Minimum Composite Score of 58.7%
Western Governors University Minimum Composite Score of 60%; Minimum Reading Content Area Score of 60%
Hagerstown Community College Minimum Composite Score of 60%; Minimum Reading Content Area Score of 69%
Chaffey College Minimum Composite Score of 62%
Grossmont College Minimum Composite Score of 62%


Some schools don’t have a minimum score requirement but still require you to submit your TEAS scores as part of your application. You shouldn’t take that to mean you can have a low score on your TEAS exam. You should always aim to have the highest possible TEAS score.


TEAS Test: Final Thoughts

The TEAS test is a standardized test taken by candidates for nursing school. Your TEAS total score helps determine whether or not you're a competitive candidate for acceptance to a nursing program.


What’s Next?

Taking a practice test is a great way to get ready for a standardized test. Our in-depth guide to TEAS practice exams tells you where to find the best TEAS practice tests.

Thinking about possibly going into healthcare administration? Find out what degrees you need for different careers in healthcare administration here.

Learn more about SAT Subject Tests. Taking (and acing!) Chemistry or Biology would look great on a nursing application ... and in some cases might even be required!


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Hayley Milliman
About the Author

Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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