Most American nursing schools require you to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), a standardized, multiple-choice test developed and administered by Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) to determine your academic readiness for nursing school. Some allied health or health science programs also require the ATI TEAS test.
Whether you are applying to an ADN, LPN or BSN nursing program (or an allied health program!), you will need to prepare and plan your admissions process. Start by researching and contacting each of your target schools for each program’s admission deadlines and specific requirements.
The ATI TEAS: An Overview
When you contact your target school’s admissions team, ask if the school administers the TEAS test or if you will need to take it at a national testing center such as PSI or online. Pre-test, and regardless of testing location, you must register ahead at the ATI website. Post-test, ATI will submit your transcript to each of your listed target schools. Each nursing or health sciences program sets its own passing TEAS score, and each school designates the number of times it will accept scores from a retake of the TEAS.
Planning Ahead for the TEAS Examination
At first glance, an assessment of basic academic readiness may seem like the easiest part of your admissions process. However, ATI reports that 40% of applicants end up retaking the TEAS more than once.
It’s no secret that most healthcare-delivery settings are currently experiencing nursing shortages. Yet, in 2017, American undergraduate nursing programs rejected more than 56,000 of their applicants. Meanwhile, the projected 10-year growth rate for nursing exceeds that of other careers. This trifecta of growing staffing needs, shrinking college slots, and expanding college applicant pools means one thing for you: Getting accepted to your dream school requires a high TEAS score.
So as soon as you know each of your target schools’ requirements and deadlines, get to work on your project plan and timeline. Your timeline should include six weeks to two months to prepare, practice, and study for the TEAS test.
The TEAS Test Content
The TEAS will assess your competency and knowledge in four subject categories: Reading, Mathematics, Science and English Language Usage. The timed, multiple-choice test has 170 questions and takes approximately 3.5 hours (209 minutes). You will be assigned a percentage score for each individual subject category and an overall TEAS test percentage score.
In considering applicants, individual nursing schools and health sciences programs tend to weigh each subject category differently. If you have to retake the TEAS, some schools will consider all of your old and your new scores. Also, a retake of the TEAS means retaking all four subject categories—not just the subject in which you need a passing score.
Preparing for the ATI TEAS Test
Most schools limit the number of times you can retake the TEAS. Other programs have a prescribed wait time between testings. Still, others limit the number of times you can take the test within a calendar year—which may force you to defer your college enrollment by an entire semester or academic year. Retakes cost you money, including the registration, travel, and transcript fees. Also, deferring your entry to nursing school or allied health program will delay your dream career and when you can start earning a salary.