Many nursing schools will require their students to take the TEAS exam, which stands for the Test of Essential Academic Skills. While not all schools will require that potential nursing students take the test, many will; which means knowing how to prepare for the test can be crucial.
The TEAS exam can be a difficult test, but the good news is that there are a lot of great resources available to you to help prepare you for the test. There is a mix of free and paid resources that we’ll break down, so you’ll have a solid start to your journey in preparing for and passing the TEAS test.
11 TEAS Test Prep Tips to Help You Pass
If you know you will need to take the TEAS exam in the future, here are some things you can do to prepare:
1. Take practice tests
Practice tests are one of the best resources you can use to prepare for the test. There are many free practice tests you can take, as well as study guide books and online courses that you can purchase that offer practice tests.
You can find practice TEAS tests with a google search or check out this free TEAS practice test from Smart Edition Academy. The Smart Edition Academy’s test offers some major advantages, including the fact that it’s a timed test—just like the real deal—and will give you customized feedback on areas you need to improve upon, along with a recommended action plan for studying based on your results.
When it comes to picking a practice test, the right one does matter, says Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Melissa Wynne (“Nurse Melissa” ) and co-founder of Smart Edition Academy along with her husband John. “When it comes to practice tests there are a lot of free practice tests online but many of them are not actually that good,” she explains. “The TEAS is a difficult test so you want to prepare with the most realistic questions as possible. Any practice test should be timed and should be in the same format as the real test while providing questions that are very similar to the type of questions you will actually see on your test day.”
“At the end of the day, you are investing in your future so for a few bucks, it’s 100% worth it to work with a good online course that will help you be fully prepared for the test,” she adds.
2. Peruse YouTube
YouTube can be a great study aid because you can find different channels focused on specific subject areas like math or science–all for free. Videos like this one or this one can help you prep in a way that might be especially helpful for more visual learners. And of course, the Smart Edition Academy’s YouTube channel offers hundreds of free videos.
3. Turn to TikTok
That’s right—TikTok can now be used for studying, thanks to this account that offers lots of smart study prep.
4. Take an online course
Online courses are becoming more popular and you’ll find lots of great options available. One benefit to online courses versus print study guide books is they tend to be more interactive than a book and most will include practice tests that help simulate the real exam. For instance, Smart Edition Academy’s ATI TEAS online course includes 53 lesson modules, 8 practice tests, 100+ video lessons, flashcards, and a question bank with over 1,000 practice questions.
According to Nurse Melissa, the Academy’s online course has helped over 100,000 students pass the TEAS. “We developed our online course to help all kinds of learners whether you are a visual learner or you prefer to read or just listen to lessons, we cover all aspects of learning for every student,” she adds.
5. Join a Facebook prep group
Facebook groups are another great resource you can use to prep for the TEAS exam. There are several groups that have large communities of over 10,000 students who are all preparing for the test and sharing great resources and what helped them score high on the test. You can find the largest TEAS study group on Facebook here. “I highly recommend any student join that group,” advises Nurse Melissa.
6. Go to boot camp
TEAS study boot camp that is. In addition to some of their other free resources, like their practice test and Facebook group, Smart Edition Academy also offers a free boot camp that includes a guide to help you approach the test and get organized, along with several sample lesson modules from the online course.
7. Use a study guide book
Study guide books are the traditional option and you’ll find lots of options on Amazon. If you prefer to have something in your hands to study with or use your highlighter, then this might be the best option for you. The better study guides will include an online component that should include practice tests.
No matter which resource you end up choosing, Nurse Melissa notes that investing usually pays off. “I always recommend investing in good test prep resources because there are a lot benefits,” she says. Whether it is an online course, or a study guide book, or an app they will all help you tremendously to prepare for the test.”
“I see a lot of students waste so much time scouring the internet trying to just figure what exactly is on the test, this is a big mistake because you should be using that time to actually study. Investing in good resources saves you that time by outlining exactly what is on the test while providing you with accurate materials to study with,” she adds.
8. Stick to a study schedule
Developing a study schedule that you can stick to is one of the best ways to stay organized and make sure you are hitting all of the topics on the test. Building repetition into your study schedule is key to retaining the information you are studying.
If you need an idea for how to actually do that, spaced repetition is a common best practice and involves plotting out what topics you will study on specific days, and making sure that you are going back to certain topics at a later date. For example, you might study the science prep of the exam on Monday, again on Wednesday and again the following Monday.
“Making sure you build in repetition is crucial which means you need to make sure you are going back to various topics over time, this helps you retain the information longer,” says Nurse Melissa. “What students will find when they study a topic for a day and move on is that in a few weeks you have forgotten that material so it’s really important to keep going back to that topic.”
9. Learn your own study style
Do you know your own learning style? Chances are, you may have an idea, but life after high school can be a whole new ballgame, so it’s a good idea to learn your own unique study style as you prepare to really dive into studying for this test. You can take this free quiz online to learn your study style.
10. Incorporate multiple study aids
Oftentimes one resource might leave out certain topics or not go as in-depth as you might need, whereas other resources might cover those topics or teach something in a way that resonates more with your own learning style. That means that it’s a great idea to incorporate multiple ways of studying—use YouTube, practice exams, flashcards, note taking, and study guides and think of them all supporting each other. Kind of like your future as a nurse and healthcare team member, right?
11. Get those practice tests in
Speaking of practice exams, it really can’t be emphasized enough how important they are. Doing as many practice questions as you can before the real test is something you will want to make sure you are building into your study process. Make sure the practice tests you are doing are timed practice tests because you’ll want to make sure you are able to complete each section of the test in the time period.
And while using resources like Smart Edition Academy—which, for the record, has a 94.4% pass rate based on a survey of 500 students in 2021–is always a smart idea, it’s always important to remember that ultimately, passing the TEAS comes down to the amount of work you put in.
“We see a lot of companies ‘guarantee you will pass’ and we just don’t believe that is an honest thing to promise our students,” says Nurse Melissa. “The reality is that you won’t pass your test by simply purchasing a good test prep course, and you should question anyone that tells you otherwise as a marketing gimmick. You really have to put in the work and study time to pass the test.”
Take a Baseline Practice Test
The best way to prepare for the test is to start with a practice test so you can get a baseline for where you stand as you begin your studying. A good practice test will give you a score report that breaks down each question on the test by the topic that it relates to which will help you identify the topics that are your strongest and weakest in. For instance, the practice test from Smart Edition Academy provides timed practice tests with score reports.
Focus on Your Weak Areas
Once you understand your weak areas, you can focus your studying on those topics using some of the resources mentioned above. So get studying!
Take Another Practice Test
After you have put in the time to study those weak areas you can go back and take another practice test and you should start to see your scores improve in those weak topics.
Repeat as Needed
From there, you can continue that process until you are receiving the scores you need to meet your school’s required scores (and ideally, you’ll be doing much better than the required score).
What Happens if You Fail the TEAS and What to Do Next
If you prepare for the TEAS and still fail it, the first thing you need to know is that it is not uncommon to take the TEAS test more than one time. Students often retake the test to try to get a more competitive score to strengthen their overall application while others did not meet the required score for their school’s program so they opt to take the test again. In either case, you don’t need to worry—in fact, if you need to take the TEAS again for any reason, you’ll have more time to study and much better chances of achieving a higher score.
Before you take the test again, however, you will want to check with your school to see if they have any restrictions on how long you are required to wait until retaking the test. Some schools have no restrictions while others might require you to wait 30 or 60 days between retakes.
After completing your first test attempt, you will receive an official score report breaking out your scores by each of the four sections of the test. You can use this score report to see which area you scored the highest and lowest in and plan to go back and study the subjects you didn’t do as well in. Remember: approaching the test the second time you will have a much better chance of scoring higher and getting accepted to your school’s program!