Beginner’s Guide to the TEAS Exam

Why some nursing schools use the TEAS to evaluate potential students, the best way to study for the TEAS exam, and the rest of the tools you’ll need to pass this important test.

Last Updated: 04/29/2020
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MEET THE EXPERT

Colleen Rowley Blackwell
Colleen Rowley Blackwell

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Colleen Rowley Blackwell is the marketing specialist at ATI Nursing Education, the organization responsible for administering the TEAS exam. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Missouri at Columbia.

On This Page

If you’ve spent any time looking at nursing school admission requirements, you’ve probably come across mention of the TEAS exam. The Test of Essential Academic Skills is a four-part exam that helps nursing schools decide which candidates to admit. Given that approximately 40% of test takers must retake the TEAS at least once to receive a passing score, nursing schools see it as an effective measurement of which students are ready for the rigors of a postsecondary curriculum. While that figure may intimidate you, the good news is that any learner can pass the TEAS on their first try with the right preparation. Keep reading to learn what the TEAS entails, where to find helpful resources, and how to ace it.

What Is the TEAS Exam?

The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) covers four main areas. These include reading, mathematics, science, and English and language usage. Many nursing degrees at the associate and bachelor’s levels require prospective students to take this exam as a way of measuring their preparedness.

What Can You Expect in the TEAS Exam?

The TEAS exam comprises four sections devoted to testing the student’s knowledge. We review each part of the test in the following section.

Reading

Number of Questions: 53

Time Limit: 64 minutes


Questions per Subtopic:

  • Key Ideas and Details: 22
  • Craft and Structure: 14
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 11
  • Pre-Test Questions: 6

Example Questions:

1

“Melvil Dewey developed and introduced his eponymous Dewey Decimal System for book classification and arrangement in 1876.” What does the word “eponymous” mean?

Answer: Named after a person.

2

“Mankind possesses an irrepressible spirit for growth and innovation.” What does the word “irrepressible” mean?

Answer: Unrestrained.

3

“When thinking about butterflies, you probably have a distinct one in mind – perhaps one recently seen.” What does the word “distinct” mean in this context?

Answer: Easily distinguishable.

Mathematics

Science

English and Language Usage

Registering for the Exam

Registering for the TEAS exam involves a relatively streamlined process managed via ATI Testing. We answer some of your most common questions about registering below.

Why Should I Register for the Exam?

Students should register because a) you are required to register beforehand to actually take the exam, and b) many nursing programs now require TEAS scores for admission.

What Should I Be Aware of Before I Register?

Students should contact prospective schools prior to registering to learn about deadlines, minimum scores, and testing locations.

How Can I Register?

Examinees should visit the ATI Testing website, create an account, and use the email confirmation link to complete registration.

When Should I Register?

Test takers should register once they speak to prospective schools and gather all the necessary information.

How to Study for the TEAS

Every student’s exam preparation process looks different, but the following sections provide some tips and tricks for acing the exam like a pro.

Exam Prep Starters

Before sitting down to begin preparing for the TEAS examination in earnest, test takers should set some ground rules for themselves that will help guide their efforts. ATI Testing recommends beginning the process six weeks prior to the exam date to ensure you do not feel rushed or like you need to cram for the test.

Every learner’s schedule looks different, so work out a timeline that makes sense for you. Getting – and staying – organized goes a long way, as does sticking to your study plan.

TEAS Study Plan

The study plan put together in this section reflects ATI Testing’s suggestion that students should set aside at least six weeks to prepare for the TEAS examination.

Week One

Collect necessary materials and resources.

Take practice exams in each of the four subjects. We highlight several websites that provide practice tests in the following section.

Score exams and identify areas needing the most work

Week Two

Begin working through English and Language Usage prep materials. These can be either the modules provided by ATI Testing or others found online.

Carefully review areas of weakness on the practice test taken the week before, focusing on improving your understanding of those questions.

Week Three

Work though Reading prep materials, paying close attention to how subtopics divide into questions on the exam.

Review your Reading practice test and take note of areas where you earned the least amount of points. Focus your efforts on these.

Week Four

Find a reputable source for the Science section and begin working through practice tests.

Develop a personalized study plan based on areas of improvement.

Week Five

Work through any Mathematics test prep materials available to you, spending additional time on the types of questions you got wrong on the practice test.

Week Six

Take another practice exam to see how your scores improved. Address any lingering areas of weakness by reviewing relevant materials.

Give your brain some time to rest and rejuvenate before the exam.

TEAS Study Help Resources

Websites & Organizations

ATI Nursing Blog

Administered by ATI Testing, this helpful webpage provides lots of answers to commonly asked questions.

ATI Testing

ATI Testing administers the TEAS exam and provides plenty of helpful free and paid resources.

Free ATI TEAS Practice Questions

Kaplan allows examinees to take a few free practice tests to see which areas need work.

Test Prep Review

This Mometrix resource allows students to take unofficial TEAS practice tests.

Books

ATI TEAS Review Books + Digital Resources

Kaplan makes both of these available for $49.

ATI TEAS Study Manual

Offered by ATI Testing, this official study guide costs just $25.

Mometrix

This test preparation company provides several helpful books and tools to get ready for the TEAS.

YouTube

ATI TEAS Detailed Overview

Get an in-depth look at what to expect when you take the TEAS

How I Got a 95.3% on ATI TEAS

Nurse Lexi shares her tips and tricks for getting a top score.

How to Pass the TEAS Test

Hear a first-hand account from someone who aced the TEAS exam about how she did it.

TEAS Test, Study Secrets for an Advanced Score

This video provides tactics and ideas for the latest version of the TEAS exam.

Social Media Groups

ATI TEAS 6 Test – Study Group

This private Facebook group has nearly 35,000 members who provide positivity and support.

ATI TEAS Exam Free Study Group

Stay accountable and motivated alongside the 13,000+ members in this group.

TEAS 6 Basic to Advanced Study Group

Whether you need help with language arts or math, this group is here for you.

Tools & Apps

ATI TEAS 6 Practice Tests

Get instant explanations when you make a mistake with this helpful tool.

ATI TEAS Pocket Prep

Available in the Google Play store, this handy app allows you to study on the go.

TEAS Flashcards

Use these free flashcards to test your TEAS knowledge.

TEAS Mastery: Test Version

Apple users can download this free app that features more than 1,300 exam-like questions.

TEAS Test Prep

Use this flashcard maker and existing decks to create a personalized learning experience.

11 Questions for Test Day

1

When should I get there?

Students must show their identification and receive an assigned seat prior to getting started, along with storing their bag. Because of this, they should arrive approximately 30 minutes prior to testing time.

2

Where will I take the test?

Your school will assign a location, typically either on campus or at an approved testing site.

3

What should I bring?

Examinees should bring photo identification, ATI login information, and two No. 2 sharpened pencils.

4

What time is the test?

Testing times vary, so check with your school.

5

How long does it take?

The test takes 209 minutes.

6

Is the test taken on a computer or written?

The TEAS exam exists in both forms.

7

What is it like in the test room?

The exam room looks similar to a classroom, with assigned seats for test takers. It may be slightly cold, so bring a sweater. Do not bring a jacket, as this is considered additional apparel.

8

Are there any breaks?

There is a 10-minute break at the halfway point.

9

Is there anything I’m not allowed to bring?

Additional apparel, personal items, electronics, and any food or drink.

10

What if I have a learning disability or need help?

Speak with the testing administrator prior to exam day about available accommodations.

11

What if I get nervous?

Take a breath, remember that you prepared adequately, and do your best.

FAQ: After the Test

How do I get my score?

If taking an online exam, scores will pop up on your screen once the test concludes. If taking a paper version, scores will be emailed within 48 hours after you finish.

What is a passing score?

Some schools set minimum scores for each subject area while others look for a minimum composite score from all areas. Individual or composite scores between 90.7%-100% are considered exemplary while those between 78%-90% are considered competitive. Anything below 77.3% is considered less competitive or below average.

How does my school find out my score?

ATI Testing automatically sends your score to the institution you identified during registration. You can have these sent to additional schools for a small fee.

What if my score is too low for my school of choice?

If your score is too low, you must retake the exam. ATI Testing notes that approximately 40% of examinees retake the test at least once to get a passing score.

From the Source: TEAS Talks About the Exam

Colleen Rowley Blackwell

Colleen Rowley Blackwell is the marketing specialist at ATI Nursing Education, the organization responsible for administering the TEAS exam. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Q: How important is a student’s TEAS score in relation to the rest of their admissions materials?

Most nursing programs have a limit for the number of students that can be admitted into their program each semester or year, so the admission process can be very competitive. In fact, 30% of qualified applicants are turned away from ADN, Diploma, and BSN programs. Having a TEAS score that isn’t up to par could be one of the reasons that you find yourself in this unfortunate group, so prepping to earn your highest score the first time is crucial to your success for nursing school admission.

In addition, many schools value a good TEAS score. They want students who are prepared and ready for school. We have a research study that shows a direct correlation between a good TEAS score and a students’ likelihood of success the first year of nursing school. Admissions teams want to make sure they are choosing the students who will be the most successful.

Q: What are your best tips for preparing for this exam?

Fully understand what to expect when it comes to test day – what subjects you will be tested on, how much time you have, what the testing experience looks like.

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare! ATI, the creators of the exam, recommend that you give yourself at least 6 weeks to prepare.

Practice, practice, practice! On the same note of giving yourself plenty of time to prepare it’s important to also ensure that you have done your fair share of practice questions.

Q: What are some common mistakes students might make in getting ready to sit the test? 

The biggest mistake that we see test takers make is not preparing. In fact, 40% of students have to take the TEAS more than once, so prepping for the TEAS isn’t just helpful – it’s crucial. 

Q: How can students best manage their time during the exam?

The TEAS Exam is comprised of 170 questions set up in a multiple-choice format with four-option answers and is 209 minutes long. It’s important that test takers understand beforehand how much time they will have for each section and how many questions are within that section. 

Q: What options exist for learners who get a lower score than they’d hoped for?

The most important thing to remember when facing a score that you are not happy with is to stay positive! Doing well on the TEAS is a very important part of your nursing school journey, but scoring poorly on your first attempt is not the end of the world. By giving yourself more time to prepare and studying the right materials, you can bounce back and achieve your highest score!

If you are planning on retaking the ATI TEAS Exam, you should be aware of any requirements or restrictions that the school(s) you are applying to may have for admission. Is there a deadline for application or for the latest date that your TEAS score can be submitted? Are you only allowed to attempt the TEAS a certain number of times? Knowing these requirements will help you plan when to take the TEAS again and know how long you will have to prepare for your next attempt.

Another hint? Use the score report from your first attempt. This will help you identify the subject areas of questions that you missed and can be an extremely helpful tool in remediation.