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What Math Is on the HESI?

by Christopher Cascio

The Health Systems, Inc. A2 exam is offered to prospective healthcare students in such fields as nursing, dental hygiene, surgical technology and radiography, after they've met all other entrance requirements. The purpose of this entrance exam is to assess your ability to perform college-level coursework, and help administrators to place you into the appropriate courses. The math portion will test your ability in three general areas at the eighth to tenth-grade level.

The Section's Format

The math portion of the HESI A2 exam contains 50 questions -- out of the test's total of 147 -- that you will have 50 minutes to complete. Most questions are multiple choice. Many of the questions are word problems, although some will ask you to fill in the numeric value of the answer. Also, while you will not be allowed to use a personal, handheld calculator while taking the test, the exam's computer program does feature an on-board, basic calculator that you can use. To pass the HESI A2, you'll need to achieve a score of 75 percent or higher on this section, and on each of the other sections as well.

Basic Arithmetic

Part of the math section will test your ability to perform the basic arithmetic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Some questions will simply ask you to solve a problem, but others will be presented in the context of healthcare or studying to be a healthcare professional. For example, an addition question might ask you to calculate the cost of study materials you would need for a hypothetical radiography program, or the cost of accessories to adequately supply your station at a dentist's office.

Fractions, Decimals, Ratios, Percentages and Proportions

Arguably the most difficult areas of the HESI A2's math portion are the questions that ask you to perform operations with fractions and decimals, or to determine ratios and proportions. Like the basic arithmetic questions, many of these questions will be set in the context of healthcare, and will prepare you for the types of calculations you'll encounter in school and in your career. For example, you might be asked to calculate your gross pay from the hospital after logging a set of work hours that includes fractions of hours. You will also be asked to calculate problems absent of context, such as adding or multiplying two decimals, which can mimic the act of calculating drug dosages.

Measurements and Math Facts

Measurement questions will require you to convert units of one type to another, and then perform basic calculations. Furthermore, these questions might be presented in a context other than healthcare to better suit the nature of the calculation. For example, the question might ask you to convert centimeters to inches so that a carpenter can accurately cut and fit a piece of lumber into the framework of a house. Questions concerning general math facts will ask you about various number systems, such as identifying systems that maintain certain characteristics, such as being based on multiples of 10.


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