How I Scored Over 1000 On The HESI Exams in Nursing School

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When I was in nursing school, our program used the HESI as our standardized test to prepare us for the NCLEX exam. If you are looking for tips on how to score over 1000 on the HESI I feel confident that you have come to the right place.

I understand how stressed out and nervous you are. Even with having consistently high scores under my belt, I was always insanely nervous before each test. It is completely natural when you care this much about something. Truthfully, I’d be more worried if you were not nervous.


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Your school likely sets a score bar you need to meet. My school required an 850 on regular HESI exams, and a 900 for the Exit HESI. So it makes sense to shoot for 1000 to give yourself some cushion. That was my strategy as well.

My goal was to always reach 1000 at the minimum. And as you can see, I landed there the majority of the time. I love the saying, “Shoot for the stars and you might hit the moon.”

If you want to learn how to score 1000 on the HESI, you need to first get it out of your mind that there is some cheat sheet out there or that you need to know EVERYTHING that could possibly be on it.

Nursing school questions are designed to think through critically. They don’t expect you to be an expert in every disease process, but they do expect you to take action safely.

This is exactly how the NCLEX is. You will never know everything on the NCLEX. But you can still do very well and pass as long as you’re a safe nurse.

You must become a master of the fundamentals and a well-practiced test taker to do well on the HESI.

Even with HESI specialty exams, the fundamentals of nursing will always be your most important tool to fall back on. What are those fundamentals exactly? ADPIE, ABCs, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Nursing is a career centered around the human being. Don’t get too science crazy. Choosing the answers that focus on safety first have to be at the forefront of your mind when you’re taking these exams.

Ask yourself, which answer is the safest and most responsible action to take? Which answer takes into consideration that I’m protecting my patient’s physical integrity the most?

Sometimes there are multiple safe answers, so which one did I pick?

This is where prioritization comes into play. ABCs. Airway, Breathing then circulation. How can they breathe if you aren’t addressing their airway first? And how can they circulate oxygenated blood if they aren’t breathing? Always check your ABCs before moving on.

ADPIE is your best friend! Sometimes we think we need to spring into action immediately. We have already assumed the diagnosis. But so many questions want you to assess the patient further. Always ask yourself, do I need to assess something further before taking action?

If the question is talking about a confused patient, do I automatically restrain them for their safety? Or do I need to investigate why they are confused first? For example, check the pulse ox! What if their O2 is in the 80’s, and I just restrained them and left them like that?

You would be surprised how many questions there are like this. You don’t want to miss these. ADPIE.

Train like an Olympian for your HESI exam

Do Olympic athletes become Olympians by practicing a few hours before the big day? No way. So you shouldn’t do that before your most important nursing school exams.

I was always shocked to hear how little my peers studied and prepared. Then they would get so upset they didn’t do well. And I get it. We are trained all through college to take notes, and read your chapters, and you should do well on the tests. Nursing school is nothing like this.

When my peers would ask me how I did, I was honest. Not for the purpose of showing off at all. If anything, I always hated sharing my score knowing so many didn’t do well. But I did want everyone to be doing well too. I wanted to graduate and become a nurse side by side with my friends.

Deep down I was always hoping they would ask me how I got these scores so I could tell them with the purpose of helping them. The truth is… I study, and study, and study! And no, studying for me is not rewriting notes over and over. I don’t use nursing bundle printouts and pretty pictures either. This is passive learning, not active learning. It doesn’t work for most people.

How to score 1000 on the HESI is by testing, testing, and testing yourself some more…

My first HESI I didn’t know how to study for it, but I was already doing very well in nursing school so far. So thankfully I passed with a 922. But that was too close for comfort for me. I knew I didn’t want to do that again the next time around. So I talked to some of the senior nursing students and asked what they used to study for HESI because I knew I had a ton of HESI specialty exams coming my way.

Your Best Grade

Once I learned about your best grade for studying for the HESIS’, it changed my whole trajectory in nursing school. The entire site is designed to study for the HESI and ultimately, to pass the NCLEX. It is the only program I know that exists for HESI like this.

The questions are very high level to get you to really think critically, and the rationales are top-tier. I learned SO much about testing by using your best grade. I strongly believe I would not have done this well on my HESIs’ had I not used it.

Additionally, I owe my success to this site in passing the Next Gen NCLEX on the first try in the minimum 85 questions.

If you really want to know how to score 1000 on the HESI, it’s by using a high-level specialized testing study system. Reading notes is just NOT going to cut it in nursing school.

The HESI is not a memorization test. It’s to get you ready to take the NCLEX exam. It is impossible to memorize all of the information. You are literally just going to have to take so many practice tests that questions start to look familiar in their general theme.

Honestly, this should be good news as long as you haven’t waited until the last minute. Even if you have though, there is still hope.

How long to study before a HESI

Nursing school moves fast, so you only have so much time to study for exams. I understand that, believe me.

Before the Med Surg HESI I gave myself about a week and a half of nearly nonstop studying.

Every single free moment I had, I was doing Your Best Grade questions. For tests like GERI, Psychology, and Management, I was able to do well with about a week’s worth of studying, sometimes a little less.

But remember, test taking has been my study strategy since very early on in nursing school. If you have been a note-taker and note-re-writer, you will probably need more time to catch up. So get in a good routine of doing practice questions as much as mentally and physically possible.

How to study for the HESI Exit Exam:

  1. First and foremost, Your Best Grade as we have already established. They have multiple mock HESI exit exam tests on their site. It’s truly priceless. Give yourself as much time as possible to get through as many questions as you possibly can. It will serve you very well. Start early in your last semester.
  2. HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination  This book is made by the writers of the HESI, so it is a very smart purchase when studying for the HESI. I used this book as a refresher guide before all nursing school exams. This is a great book to go through with your peers during study sessions as well. The HESI hints are extremely helpful clues you will want to pay attention to.

how to score 1000 on hesi

How to prepare on HESI exam day

  1. Stop studying early the night before. If you study late, you are going to have trouble turning your brain off and getting a good night’s sleep. Even more important than getting those last few questions squeezed in is your sleep. You do not want to show up to the HESI tired. You need to be able to think clearly.
  2. Eat a balanced breakfast. This is kind of a funny thing, but I learned somewhere that eating eggs and dark chocolate before an exam were proven to help students on tests. So it became almost an OCD ritual of mine. I would always bring dark chocolate with me on exam day to share with my friends too. Here is an interesting article I found right here talking about it as well. So there must be truth to it.
  3. Wear comfortable clothes. This is not the time to worry about looking cute. Wear pants and a shirt that aren’t going to bother you, squeeze you, or distract you during your exam. Exam day was always a yoga pants and t-shirt day for me.
  4. Bring a water bottle if you’re allowed. Luckily my instructors allowed us to bring drinks and allowed a short snack break during our HESI exams. NCLEX allows breaks too, so it makes sense. I used to just chew gum during my nursing school exams but I found having something to hydrate with served me better. Especially in the last half of the exam when the brain starts getting tired.
  5. Arrive for the exam early! The last thing you need on exam day is to feel frazzled and have your adrenaline pumping because you were almost late. Leave 10 to 15 minutes earlier on this day than you normally would. Give yourself time to put your things away and gather your thoughts and get signed in to the exam.

how to score 1000 on hesi

Summarizing how to score 1000 on the HESI

Always think of the fundamentals first

Before you answer any question, write down ABCs, ADPIE, and Maslows on your scratch paper. Make sure you thought about those before answering the question. Additionally, think about safety first. Ask yourself, “Is this the safest possible answer?”

Purchase Your Best Grade and use it every single day before HESI exams

I will die on this hill. Your Best Grade is a non-negotiable tool to use when it comes to the HESI exams. If you commit to going through questions even just one hour per day, you are going to improve your scores. Especially if you are someone who doesn’t study with practice questions already. If that is the case, you will likely improve significantly.

HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN

This is the best HESI study book on the market. Again, it is written by the HESI writers so we should expect nothing less. Remember, this is not content you memorize, it’s content you seek to understand. Read through the book and whatever content you aren’t understanding, dig in deeper into that until you do. Watch some Youtube videos. Otherwise, use this just as a review to skim through.

Prepare for the HESI exam starting the night before

Stop studying early. Get good sleep. Eat a solid breakfast, and get to the exam early. Like the fundamentals of nursing, these are the fundamentals of test-taking. We need a clear-thinking mind that is properly fueled to do well. These exams are marathons, not sprints. They take a ton of mental energy so practice self-care.

Leave a comment below if you found these tips and tricks helpful. Please also let us know if any of these tips made a difference for you with your scores. We look forward to hearing from you!

Jackie Jimenez BSN, RN
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