I was probably the second most worried about this section because I was inconsistent in practice exams even as my exam date neared. My advice here is to slow down, and literally read each option and see whether or not it makes sense. I will say I thought the passage/paragraphs in the exam were shorter in length than many on practice tests making it easier to pick out details, and they do it one question at a time with the paragraph above it, meaning you don’t have to scroll/turn pages back to reread.
I hadn’t taken a chemistry course in 10 years and was most worried about this section. The material was very general and basic and there was a LOT of overlap with both biology and anatomy (not the same questions, but similar concepts). There were two questions where I feel like having some periodic table knowledge (first 20 or so atomic numbers and corresponding elements/generally where those elements are on the periodic table, as well as some general elements are nonmetals/transitional metals/alkali metals) was helpful. You are –not- given a periodic table of elements though. In terms of calculations I believe there were two and you were given the information needed for this section.
I would like to state that I spent the most time studying this section and some of my early practice test grades I wasn’t passing; so if you’re struggling with ANY section, put in the time-you can do it!
I did this section last (just how the cookie crumbled) and felt that the Elsevier book had almost given exact examples of the type of questions being asked. There were a lot of questions that would test whether or not you understood to/too/two, or they’re/their/there. The first test I link later on in this post was also helpful for grammar.
MY GENERAL STRATEGY
Started studying about 3 months before the exam, I was very inconsistent with my study habits and definitely ramped up as the exam got closer.
1. Took a practice test online first (link below**), and made a document of unfamiliar topics, questions I had gotten wrong, and explanations from the online test I wanted to know better.
2. Tackled the Elsevier book. Read every single section (this was over the course of about two weeks) did every single practice question.
3. Made flash cards for vocabulary words, conversions for math, and other items that are memorization based.
4. Made a study guide in Microsoft word that has facts/basics/things I struggled to remember after each section. Continue to update this study guide from all study materials/sessions so you'll have an all in one document organized by section
5. Ordered extra books and typically spent about 4-8 hours one day a week tackling the entire book. (I would recommend spreading it out)
6. Got some apps on my phone and tried to do a few practice questions when convenient
7. Started watching Crash Course Chemistry (mostly, some biology too) videos about a month out.
8. Re-read Elsevier sections and printed/read through the study guide I had made. I did this multiple times in the days leading up to (and even read through my study guide once the day of) the exam.
9. Tried to plan out my order beforehand (biggest thing was deciding to start with math). I did change my pre-planned order when I was there, but I recommend coming up with your starting subject.
ANSWERS TO SOME FAQ’s
You have access to a calculator throughout the exam. It was a button in a fairly big grey box to the right of the questions/answers that you CAN NOT miss.
You do NOT get a periodic table of elements.
You can NOT go back once you submit an answer. You can, however, mark and answer without submitting which may be helpful if you want to know what your first instinct was before you submit.
You can take breaks, however the time of your exam will continue. In my testing center I had to sign out and in for every break (I only ended up taking one break).
You should get scratch paper (for me it was dry erase markers and a laminated paper). See your testing center for details.
You do get to see your score right after you finish each section. My testing center also allowed me to print my cumulative report in the end.
You do get to choose the order you take your subjects in (your school may require more or less subjects than what I discuss here).
There were unscored learning style and personality style quizzes at the end for me (they were about 15 questions each), some people say they had a critical thinking section as well (I didn’t have that section on my exam). Obviously, save these non-scored quizzes until the end of the ones you need scores on.
-HESI Admission Assessment-Exam Review (Elsevier)
If you have been researching what to use to study I’m sure you’ve heard this over and over again but THIS IS THE ITEM TO BUY/HAVE/STUDY (whatever the most updated edition may be at the time).
Elsevier are the people who write the HESI A2
exam, they know better than anyone else what the content is going to be like and their questions will be the most similar in terms of format.
Read every section (I read them all more than once, I believe at least 3 times, some 4 or 5) and do all of the practice questions including the pretest as well as the practice test at the end.
-HESI A2 Study Guide HESI Exam Prep and Practice Test Questions (Trivium Test Prep)
I have such mixed feelings about this book that the punchline is: use with caution. (I also would not make this your primary tool; make it your secondary or tertiary or x-ary tool).
There are a few reasons why I have a problem with this book:
For one thing, some of the information was just objectively incorrect at times. For example, in the chemistry section it says “an atom with 12 protons is carbon” which….is wrong; an atom with 12 protons would be Magnesium, and an atom with 6 protons would be carbon.
On top of my concern about errors, this book had a lot of extra information to the extent where I almost feel it was too in depth. For instance, the biology section spent quite a lot of time talking about both plants (and plant anatomy and physiology) as well as theories on the origins of life. Other study guides didn’t touch that material really, although I suppose you could view that as either a blessing or a curse.
Also the answer keys for Reading, Vocabulary, Biology, Chemistry and Anatomy (and Physics) have no explanations, just letter answers (grammar and math do have explanations). It almost feels like two different people wrote the answer keys and there were some questions where I really would’ve liked an explanation as to why that’s the correct answer.
Some things I liked…
It has a root word/suffix chart which I found to be very valuable, most books only give examples of vocabulary words-this book did that and tried to give a tool on how to understand unfamiliar words you might encounter.
In each subject section, there are multiple sample questions after a topic. So you would read a couple paragraphs on atomic structure and electrons and have some questions to check your knowledge before continuing to read more chemistry topics. I liked how they had sample questions breaking apart their long subject chapters and this was different than most books that save sample questions for either practice tests or only at the end of the subject’s section (however, the answer key for these also have no explanation on how they came to their conclusions and occasionally it felt like the information you just read did not cover the question they were asking).
-HESI A2 350+ Test Prep Questions for the HESI Exam Practice Tests (Trivium Test Prep)
I wasn’t a fan of this book; I bought it because it boasted of 350+ test questions, and that is truly all it is (there is no review of each section).
It has a section labelled as “science” instead of separating out Chemistry, Biology and Anatomy. The questions in this section were very general with a strong lean towards Anatomy based questions.
Vocabulary and grammar were also bundled together into one section with a strong lean towards grammar based questions.
There were weird typos throughout this book, including there being no question 27 in the “Science” section (although there was an answer for 27 in the answer key), as well as questions 28 and 29 being out of order in the answer key for the grammar/vocabulary section. Although those things are minor, it definitely lowers my confidence in the quality of these practice test questions.
One positive is unlike the other Trivium book, every answer key/question has explanations.
-3 Evolve Reach (HESI) A2 Practice Tests (McGraw-Hill’s)
I like that this book didn’t just have answer keys, the answer keys also have explanations on why their answer is the correct answer. I also like that it has 3 practice tests instead of just one to see if I learned from the prior ones.
I do think that in some regards this book and its questions were more difficult than other practice tests as well as the questions on the HESI. It also covered topics that I didn’t really encounter in other study books or apps (such as the energy pyramid).
Although this book may be more challenging than the HESI or other study guides, I honestly would recommend it. If you can score high on these questions, you have a firm grasp of the material; if you can’t score high, you have explanations on why and what you can do to improve.
-HESI A2 Study Guide (Test Prep Books)
Honestly my biggest complaint about this book is the formatting including the font, the font size, etc. It is easy to be intimidated or perhaps feel lethargic when you skim through the pages and just see endless words in a monotonous font with little formatting to make it more interesting/no pictures/diagrams etc.
However, I thought it had a nice balance of subject review and practice exam questions as well as answers (including explanations on why their answer is the correct answer). I thought they explained some concepts better than the other study guides I used.
I didn’t notice any incorrect information in this guide, unlike in some of the other ones. If you can get past the bland formatting this was a great book.
For the record, I am an android user and a little bit old-school with my studying, so I prioritized using books over apps.
-Pocket Prep=because I had spent a fair bit of money on books already when I decided to try PocketPrep on my phone, I refused to pay for the premium service (which to be fair is only $14.99 and sometimes they have sales making it cheaper). From what I hear from many friends the premium service is great.
I found the free service to be very lackluster, although they have a question of the day and practice tests the questions themselves on the free service were EXTREMELY repetitive and too easy (I had gotten the same QOTD 5 days in a row before giving up).
You can technically unlock more questions by following Pocketprep on various forms of social media…but you only get like 10 questions for doing so and I just had no interest in doing so because of all the other tools I was using and as I mentioned before how I am kind of old school and prefer books.
The punchline is…if you are going to use PocketPrep, I would suggest paying for the premium service.
-HESI A2 Exam Questions Version 1.0.2=this was the best free HESI A2 app I came across with the most quiz questions to take for free.
Not only does it have questions per subject, but it also has flashcard mode for each subject where you can see a topic and its answer, and mark it as known or not; based upon your answers you have a review session automatically generated for you.
They have practice exams you can generate including what subjects you want in, how much time you want, how many questions you want, what format (multiple choice, true/false, matching), etc.
I did end up paying for the extended version of this app because I liked the quiz questions that much.
Admittedly, they do have some overlap/get repetitive still (I would argue not as much as pocketprep did for me), but I truly think it was worth the $6.99 to unlock the extra content.
I will say my friend who has an iphone was unable to find the app from the store and I haven’t been able to confirm if it’s android only or not…
Although I downloaded and tried at least two other apps I don’t remember their names and wasn’t thrilled with their content.
-Crash Course (YouTube)
I watched almost the entire YouTube series on Crash Course Chemistry (and a few videos on Crash Course Biology). The videos tend to be about 10 minutes long and there are 46 videos total (for the chemistry one although that may vary based on subject) so plan accordingly if you want to invest the time. The videos were VERY helpful and I recommend if you are struggling with a subject or even an individual concept seeing if there are Crash Course videos available for your subject.
FREE ONLINE PRACTICE TESTS:
Obviously you can just google HESI A2 practice test and probably find some, but here are some that I took and my thoughts on them.
HESI A2 Practice Test | Free HESI Exam Practice Questions
Gives you a running score as you go and even if the question is straightforward, the answer will have an explanation that elaborates and can teach you more. This does have many questions per section, often more than the HESI sections do.
***This is the test I took before I started using any study guides to determine my baseline knowledge, and used a few days before the test to gauge my progress. No physics again…most of these don’t have a physics section though.
Free Practice Test for the HESI(R) exam
Has a few more ads than some of the other tests do, but has a broad range of questions and if you get one wrong allows you to try again or to see the explanation/correct answer (if you get it right you get a short explanation anyway); this allowed me to get to try my “second choices.” It also has a “hint” option. It has many questions (for example the Anatomy test is 50 questions). Unless you are tracking your score in real time you do need to make an account with them; however making a profile is free.
Free Hesi A2 Practice Tests | HESI - Test-Guide.com
This website doesn’t appear to have a Chemistry practice test. You do not get instant feedback on whether or not you were right after each question. You also have to complete a survey to see your results and get explanations for each question. They claim the questions are pulled from a large test bank, but I got the same questions each time I took the exam (maybe one was different).
Free HESI A2 Test Prep - HESI A2 Practice Test
This website has review videos (I didn’t watch any because they are LONG…the biology one is an hour and a half) but they are free. It has an “English” section but not separate vocabulary, reading comprehension and grammar ones; and the English section is basically a reading comprehension section. It also is missing physics, so if you’re looking for a practice test for that you’ll have to look elsewhere.
These questions were overall very easy and basic level questions. There are not a lot of questions, each section has only 15. However, a few do test whether or not you are reading what they are asking, and they do cover a broad range of topics for each subject. You do not know your score until the end of the test and do not have explanations on the answers (though you will see what the correct answer is for each question).
Quiz: Hesi a2 Chemistry Practice Test | Easy Notecards
Took this quiz to practice chemistry; it also gives a running total as you go and instant feedback on what the correct answer is if you get any wrong.
Learning Definitions, Word Definitions Test hesi a2
This quiz has vocabulary words. It’s done in a way where if you get it wrong you can continue guessing until you get the correct answer. It mixes up words (evidently) saying Word 242 etc. I was not able to figure out how many words there were total but I feel this had a good overlap of words I encountered from practice tests and some extras.
I wasn’t passing Chemistry (and sometimes Biology) in practice tests, but was able to turn that around into 100’s! If I can do that, so can you!
You know yourself; you know if you need to study for 6 months or can get away with 2 weeks of studying. You know what methods work for you (maybe it's note cards, reading out loud, making a study guide, etc.)-so trust that and dig deep and do it. This entire post has simply been about what worked for me and what didn’t, and hopefully that helps.
Best of luck!