How I Passed the HESI RN Exit Exam


I passed my HESI RN Exit Exam! If you want to know how I did it, keep reading. I will also Do-not-interruptshare my HESI scores with you.

HESI exams are extremely difficult. Although they are given to predict how you will do on your NCLEX exam, they are nothing like the NCLEX exam in my opinion. The questions given on the HESI exam are much different than the questions given through the NCLEX exam. I struggled with this. The NCLEX exam questions are more straight forward than what is on the HESI. I could answer NCLEX style questions all day long with ease, but the HESI questions, well, they were not done with so much ease. The HESI exam questions are designed to trick you because they want to test your critical thinking skills. If your critical thinking skills are at or below par, you will not pass the HESI exam no matter how much knowledge you have in the way of content.


My school required a score of 850 on the HESI exams to pass. We took HESI exams every semester. I did well and made above the passing score on the 1st two HESI exams we took. We took 2 HESI exams on the same day, the mid-curricular and the RN Alabama standard HESI exam for NUR 201. They took the best score out of the two as our grade on the exam. If we made above the passing score, we were given 36 points which averaged into our final grade for the class. Our next HESI exam was given the next semester, and it was based on NUR 202. I did not do as well on this exam, but had done fairly well throughout the semester. We were still given some points, even though we did not make the 850. If I remember right, this added up to 18 points for me on this exam. In January 2016, we took our 1st attempt at the HESI Exit exam. I did terrible on this exam, as did most of our class. This did not count for any points. If we made an 850 or above on the exit HESI the 1st time, we could relax and not have to worry as much. Because I did not make 850, it meant I had to retake the exam again at a later date. We had 3 attempts to pass the test, so I was not really concerned at this point. In April 2016, we took the Alabama Standard 203 HESI exam. This exam was based on NUR 203. It was a pass or fail test meaning if you failed the exam, you failed the class unless you had done extremely well in the class prior to the HESI test. Hence, you could not proceed in the program because the course would be failed more than likely. Although I did  well on this test and received my 36 points, the majority of the class did not. Eventually, they decided to give some points for a less than 850 score on the test. We also took our 2nd attempt at the HESI exit exam in April 2016. Unfortunately, I missed the benchmark score by 5 points. I was sick about this. I did not want to be in a position of having 1 last attempt at the HESI Exit Exam, but that is where I was at. The sad thing was that I had an A in this class, but if I did not pass the HESI I would end that class with a big fat F. Thankfully, I passed the HESI Exit Exam with my 3rd and last attempt with the best score I had made on ANY HESI exam throughout the nursing program. Although I was a nervous wreck at the time, I did it. It took me an entire year of nursing school to figure out what truly worked to make the good scores on these exams. I want to share how I did this and what tools I used to do it.


How and What Did I Use To Study:

It was suggested that we utilize the remediation packet in our HESI area in Evolve. However, this is mostly reading (a LOT of reading, and did I say reading), and I do not retain information this way. So, I set out to come up with a different strategy. My strategy is as follows:

  • Figure out and recognize what your personal learning style may be. This is key to learning and retaining the information you need to learn for passing the HESI and/or NCLEX.
  • Answer NUMEROUS NCLEX and HESI style questions. I am not talking about a few hundred either. I am talking about answering a few thousand or more questions from a variety of sources if you want to be successful. Here are some sources I used:
    • Evolve Adaptive Quizzing (endless supply of questions specific to the HESI exam – cost included in school tuition)
    • Online and/or CD questions from HESI Comprehensive Review for NCLEX-RN Examination 4th Edition Book (there are not a great deal of these, so answer ALL of them – cost $24.95)
    • U-World @ (This is an EXCELLENT tool, and easily the one I think helped me the most on the HESI exam. It is an NCLEX-RN question bank with over 1850 questions. The rationales are detailed and easy to understand and it has a lot of pictures to help you understand the content – there are various prices, but a 12 month plan is $199. If you can’t afford that, it goes all the way down to a 1 month option for $59)
    • Mosby’s Comprehensive Review for NCLEX-RN Examination 20th Edition Book (I added this to my evolve account and answered the questions online. The questions are the same type, sometimes the same, questions that HESI asks in the adaptive quizzing – cost $30)
    • Saunders Comprehensive Review for NCLEX 6th Edition (this is a great source for content type questions and rationales – cost $26.95)
    • NCLEX 3500 (Again, this is a great tool for content and rationales – cost FREE online @;jsessionid=48613887FCF6DE7D8BE857C693954CD8)
    • HESI Practice Tests in Evolve (through the school)
    • Video Vault from (I cannot say enough good things about this tool. It has over 900 videos that explain practically everything a nursing student needs to know in laymen terms and in a way that sticks in your brain and a vast array of other downloadable tools and notes that can be used – the cost is $39.95/month, but well worth the money)
    • Your Best Grade @ (This is a site that has HESI style questions with rationales broken down into various subject areas, as well as around 6 comprehensive HESI style exams you can take. At the end, it gives you a score like HESI does which is an estimate of what your HESI score would be – the cost is $97/12 month plan which can be broken down into 3 payments of $37/each)
    • NCSBN Site @ (this is another great tool at an affordable price that I used – cost $50 for a 3 week plan)
    • NCLEX Mastery (This is an app I put on my phone that has an endless supply of questions that can be answered on the go, on break, etc. They upgraded, so the difficulty level increased. It feels more like NCLEX style now, rather than just content – I don’t remember the exact cost, but I think is around $20 or so)
    • Other Apps on Phone (There are other FREE apps and some paid that I used that can be useful for answering NCLEX style questions. Some of them are: Lippincott’s Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN, NCLEX RN Cards, NCLEX-RN Ultimate, NCLEX Success, and NCLEX E-Classroom)
    • NCLEX Practice Questions @ (this is a fairly new resource that offers over 3,500 NCLEX style questions in various subject areas – cost FREE)
    • Campus Collusion @ (more NCLEX style questions – cost FREE)
    • Other Websites (I also used,,
  • Mnemonics
  • Take the time to read every rationale given to you from the questions you answer, even if you get the question right. It will seem monotonous to do this, but it will serve you well on your test.
  • Use a variety of sources to answer questions. They all have different questions that can lead to you remembering more information in the long run.
  • Memorize EVERY lab value, know S/S of major disease processes, and know your ABG’s. Once you memorize these things, use your rationales to figure out and know why an answer is an answer. Ask yourself why this or why that? This can aid in helping you to answer other questions. For example: In Hypovolemic Shock, your B/P is decreased while your pulse and respirations are increased. Why? B/P is decreased because of bleeding. If one is bleeding, he/she is not getting enough O2. Why? If one is not getting enough O2, pulse and respirations increase, the person has an altered LOC d/t not enough O2 to the brain. You get the picture.
  • Read your HESI review book and know the tips and tricks for passing the HESI that are listed in front of the book.
  • Read a HESI/NCLEX Tips and Tricks manual. I found one I downloaded from the Simple Nursing site. However, I think the same version is available at different places on the internet.
  • Throughout nursing school, make yourself note cards for each and every module you have. I used the Simple Nursing videos and our lecture videos to make my note cards. I have posted them on this website, and you are free to use them. At the end of the semester, you can utilize the cards you have compiled throughout the semester to study for your final exam. This saves a great deal of time. You can also use the cards to study for your HESI exam. I did not figure out to do this until after my 1st semester was over, so I missed out on this useful tool during that semester.
  • To enhance study from my note cards, I also recorded my notes from the note cards on a digital recorder and listened to them in the car. Recording my notes was essential for me, because I was working full-time. I had to make myself more study time somehow.
  • More ADVICE: If you do not pass the Exit HESI Exam the 1st time, DO NOT panic. Figure out what your weak areas are (for me, it was mostly Maternity), and focus on that topic. I broke mine down by percentage of time I would dedicate to each area depending on what my scores were in each area. For example: I never did well in Maternity, so I dedicated 50% of my time to that to increase my score in this area. My next thing I did not do as well in, I dedicated 25% of my study time. That still left me with 25% more study time to study and review the rest of the areas covered on the HESI exam. Hence, this increased my score on the HESI in my weak areas, but I still knew and remembered enough in the other areas to get an adequate score on those areas. This study plan gave me the highest score to date on any HESI exam I had taken.


So, Exactly What Were My HESI Scores:

As you can see, I did not make in the 1,000’s, but all it takes is a passing grade. I did what I had to do, and I passed. Graduation and becoming an RN was the goal, and that is exactly what I did. You do not have to be a straight A student to be an RN. Remember: A grade of C still gets a degree!

RN Exit V-3_D

May 2016


RN Exit V-1_D

April 2016


RN AL Standard N203

April 2016


RN Exit V-2_D

January 2016


RN AL Standard N202

December 2015


RN AL Standard N201

July 2015


Mid-Curricular Exam

July 2015


I may not have ended with a 4.0 GPA, but I ended where I wanted to be (with a degree). In the end, the degree is what matters the most, not your GPA. My point is: Stay focused on the end Goal, not your GPA.

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