What Is the TEAS?

What Is the TEAS?

By Katy McWhirter

Published on May 10, 2021

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The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) evaluates a student's readiness for college programs in the health sciences — primarily nursing programs. While not always required, TEAS scores are a common requirement at schools that offer competitive undergraduate nursing programs. Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) administers the TEAS and helps students prepare for their target nursing program.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of passing the TEAS and ways to boost your score on this exam.

What Is the TEAS?

Many programs require TEAS scores to determine the academic fitness of potential nursing students. You should prepare to take the TEAS before applying to any nursing program, since a favorable score can give you a competitive edge — even if the exam is not explicitly required for admission.

ATI administers the TEAS and also offers preparation services. You can sit for the TEAS in person at school, at an ATI testing site, or online by using a school- or ATI-approved proctoring service. Some schools specify which type of TEAS format is required, while others let you choose whether to take the test in person or online.

ATI scores the test by assigning a weight to each question. While you may sense fluctuating levels of difficulty throughout the test, you won't be able to differentiate the point values of each individual question. Each school sets its own requirements for a passing score.

What Is on the TEAS?

The TEAS covers four basic competency areas: math, reading, science, and English and language usage. Reading and science account for the largest portion of the score, combining to be worth 62% of the total. Math (21%) and English and language use (17%) comprise the remainder of the score.

TEAS Format

The TEAS consists of 170 questions, including 150 scored and 20 pre-test (unscored) questions. Each content area includes scored and unscored questions. The test takes roughly 3.5 hours to complete. The TEAS uses a multiple-choice format, offering four potential answers to each question.

The TEAS includes time limits of 64, 63, 54, and 28 minutes, respectively, for the reading, science, math, and English and language usage sections. The reading and science sections each include 53 questions, while the math and English and language sections consist of 36 and 28 questions, respectively.

ATI provides a total score, content area scores, and sub-content area scores, which refer to specific skills within each content area. ATI calculates the percentage of correct answers and the percentage of correct answers with adjustments for weighted scores in order to determine your final score. Each school determines what it considers a passing score.

Is the TEAS Difficult?

The TEAS maintains a reputation for being extremely challenging. Roughly 40% of students must take the test more than once to earn a satisfactory score; however, focused study and practice can help you prepare. ATI recommends extensive preparation starting at least six weeks before your scheduled test date.

How to Study for the TEAS

While the TEAS can seem daunting, ATI offers a wealth of test-prep resources. First and foremost, you should determine which type of test your school requires and register for a specific date, time, and location. Make sure to set aside at least six weeks of study time for the TEAS.

ATI offers study packages, study manuals, practice assessments, and tutorials for purchase through its website. Prices range from $25 to $249. Study packages provided by ATI include online and printed materials based on actual test content.

You can also find TEAS prep resources online — including free material — through sites dedicated to nursing programs and licensing exams. Note that although free test preparation may appeal to test-takers on a budget, these resources may provide less current information than ATI-sponsored prep material.

Regardless of whether you choose free or paid prep resources to study for the TEAS, taking practice tests is key. You should take multiple practice tests to better understand the format, content areas, and timing of the TEAS.

TEAS Testing Day

You can follow some simple guidelines to boost your chances of success on test day. First, make sure you register for the type of TEAS (online or in person) required by your school. Schools may recommend that students take the TEAS online, at their school, or at a national testing site.

Once registered, you will receive an email confirming the date, time, and location of your test. If you opt for an online version of the test, you'll need to take it on a Mac or PC — no tablets or phones are allowed. Confirm that your computer meets all system requirements before test day. If you take the test online, make sure you begin the login process 30 minutes before your scheduled TEAS start time.

You should plan to sit for a maximum of four hours while taking the test, with one 10-minute break.

If you opt to take the TEAS in person at your school, make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early, and if you're taking the TEAS at a testing center, get there at least 30 minutes before the exam. Latecomers are not allowed entry, and the test cannot be rescheduled or refunded. You can only bring a photo ID and two No. 2 pencils into the test site.

You may not bring personal electronics (including phones and calculators), additional clothing or bags, or food or drinks into a TEAS test center. Test administrators provide a calculator and scratch paper if you're taking the test in person. If you take the test online, you can access a calculator built into the TEAS exam software. You should plan to sit for a maximum of four hours while taking the test, with one 10-minute break.

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Feature Image: Sathyanarayan / RooM / Getty Images

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