You probably have a ton of things you’d love to do besides study for a standardized test, right? And unlike a college class, you might not have someone helping you organize your time and studying before test day.
It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed by the sheer information you’ll see on the TEAS. This will help you create a TEAS study plan that works for you and fits into your life.
I’ve been thinking about the TEAS since 2015, and I still get overwhelmed sometimes! After all, you are preparing for a four-hour, comprehensive exam. You’re going to see a wide variety of questions, and you need to keep all the details straight in your head.
Today, I want to walk you through how to set up a TEAS study plan for when you are just getting started or feeling overwhelmed. We’re gonna get back to basics here.
Your goal today is to create the outline of your specific TEAS study plan.
Instead of saying, “I need to study for the TEAS” and groaning in your head because you don’t know how to get started, you can say, “Today is Tuesday, so I’m going to spend 20 minutes watching a lesson on the periodic table of elements and completing a worksheet.”
OMG, doesn’t that second plan sound more relaxing?! It’s specific and focused. Instead of eating the entire TEAS pie, you are tackling one delicious slice. You know your next best step.
You’ll need to consider 5 questions as you create your TEAS study plan.
1. What will you study?
2. When will you study?
3. How will you study?
4. Where will you study?
5. Why will you study?
We’re going to tackle each of these in detail below. Along the way, we’ll talk about the specific tools and strategies you might use along way. We’re going to simplify your TEAS study plan down so that you can say, “This is my next best step.” Sound good? Great!
Free TEAS Study Plan Resource Library
Step #1: What will you study?
Start by picking your subject order. For the TEAS, I recommend breaking down your subjects like this:
Chemistry and Biology + Scientific Method
Anatomy and Physiology
You might have noticed that I separated Science into two different categories. On the TEAS, you’ll see chemistry, biology, anatomy & physiology, and scientific method questions mixed together. I recommend separating them for two reasons.
Reason #1: The Anatomy & Physiology section is the largest single topic on the TEAS. You’ll see 32 scored questions on this topic, covering any of the body’s organ systems. It’s a lot of material to learn.
Reason #2: Chemistry and biology on the TEAS can be scary for some students. Ninety percent of the students I work with, for example, do not like chemistry. Usually, everyone groans when we start to talk about the periodic table of elements. Devote time to focus on this without the distraction of everything else.
After all, you don’t take “science” as a college class. You take Biology 101, Chemistry 101, and dedicated Anatomy and Physiology classes. Do the same with your TEAS studying.
Which one should you start with? It honestly doesn’t matter.
When I teach, I go in the order you’ll see them on the TEAS: Reading, Math, Science, English. No other reason than that. If you want to mix it up, that’s fine too.
If you are having trouble getting started, you might just pick this order. It’s simple and straightforward.
Notice that we’re not worrying so much about the content of each subject yet. If you are working with a study manual or prep tool, you’ll have be able to see the specifics of each. You’ll start diving into the specifics when it’s time to focus on that unit. Until then, you won’t worry about it.
ACTION STEP: Decide right now the order you want to learn the topics.
Step #2: When will you study?
Now that you’ve picked your order of subjects, it’s time for you to think about WHEN you are going to study them.
To do this, we need to look at two areas: your time until your test and how you will structure your weeks until test day.
Area #1: How much time do you have until you take the TEAS?
If you have a test date scheduled, you can work backward from that date. If you don’t have a test date scheduled, I recommend you give yourself at least 3 to 4 months to study for the TEAS. Yup, that’s a long time!
Three to four months is around the magic time for TEAS studying. First, it gives you enough time to dive into the material. Second, it gives you time to practice, review, and repeat concepts. Third, it isn’t so much time that you forget what you’ve studied!
You’ll want to start blocking off study time based on how long you have for the TEAS. For example, let’s consider this sample study schedule that allows for 3 and a half months of study time.
Weeks 1 – 2: Reading
Weeks 3 – 4: Math
Week 5: Review Reading and Math
Weeks 6 – 7: Anatomy and Physiology
Week 8: Review Anatomy and Physiology
Weeks 9 – 10: Chemistry, Biology and Scientific Method
Week 11: Review Science
Weeks 12 – 13: English Language
Week 14: Practice Tests and Focused Review
This is actually pretty quick! For example, you might want to take a practice test the first week you study. Or, you might like more than a week for your end review. Even by devoting 2 weeks to each subject, you quickly end up at 3 months.
Some questions for you to consider…
✔️ Do you need more time in a specific area?
✔️ Does only 2 weeks for math seem rushed?
✔️ How much time would you like to review everything?
OK, now that we’ve looked at the big picture of time, we need to map out another aspect of the specific days you will study.
Area #2: How will you structure your study weeks?
As an example, let’s look at Weeks 1 through 2, where you’ll be studying Reading. Will you study every day? Every other day? What days work best for you? Do you want to study on the weekend? Can you only study on the weekend?
This is a study schedule that works for you… which means you’ll need to draft out what that really looks like in your day-to-day life. This can be tricky for some students, and it’s OK to be flexible and change your mind.
We’ll work on clarifying this in the next steps, by the way. For now, if you are starting to feel overwhelmed, focus on coming up with your weekly subject breakdown.
ACTION STEP: Take some time now to map out your study plan. An outline is OK, but try to get a feel for your general timeline. If you want to watch a video on setting up a study planner, you can sign up for a free preview of the full program here. When you sign up, you’ll get instant access to a video with tips for your TEAS study plan.
Step 3: How will you study?
Now we are getting into the meat and potatoes of your study plan. We’re going to be talking about the the tools you’ll need to set yourself up for success as you study.
I recommend every student have the following tools in their TEAS study plan toolbox.
Study Tool #1: Lessons that dive deep into the material
These might be online video lessons online, your class notes, or college textbooks. These lessons are meaty enough that you can typically spend at least 30 minutes with the material. You’ll get a big picture idea of the concept and someone is teaching you about it. These lessons are like class time.
Why do you need lessons like this?
Deep dive lessons help you really master the the material. You can problem solve, see connections, and learn nuances of the topic. These type of lessons help you prepare for a wide variety of possible TEAS questions.
Here are some lessons that I recommend to help you get started with your TEAS study plan:
Reading: passages, structures, and modes
Math: solving word problems, setting up proportions, PEMDAS (order of operations)
Science: periodic table of elements, chemical bonding, overviews of every human body system
English: sentence structure, collective nouns, subject-verb agreement
All of these subjects have areas that you can benefit from having an expert walk you through the nuances and connections. Each of these subjects has areas that are easy to overlook when you are studying on your own.
I want to mention a quick note about study manuals. Study manuals are great to help you prepare for the TEAS, but, many times, they are more like outlines of the material. They give you the big picture of what you need to study, but many students need more material than what they include. The lessons don’t go deep enough.
Manuals are great, but you might not be able to rely on them completely. Let them help you outline the study topics and use their practice questions—just keep in mind that you might need more guidance.
Study Tool #2: Different types of practice questions
Now, you’re going to want to practice what you’ve learned in those in-depth lessons. How well did you master the material? Can you apply what you’ve learned. I recommend 3 types of practice questions.
Practice Question Type #1: Open-ended questions
These questions do not have multiple-choice options. You’ll find them on worksheets or problem sets. They are like homework questions. These are super powerful tools because they make your brain work! You can’t see the answer options. You need to work through it and find the right spot to get started. It might seem tricky at first, but these questions will help you master your material.
For example, my courses have open-ended questions in all the workbooks. They are great to stop and say, “Hm. Can I answer this? Do I know the terminology?” Putting answers into your own words will help you remember the concept.
Practice Question Type #2: Multiple-choice questions
These questions will help you get ready for the TEAS, which is a multiple-choice exam. However, they aren’t full practice exam questions. Instead, they are great for drills and reinforcing what you’ve studied.
For example, in my Anatomy and Physiology modules, every body system has a quiz at the end that focuses just on that body system. These types of questions help you see if there are any areas you need to return to studying.
Practice Question Type #3: TEAS-style practice exams
Ah, now we are talking practice exams! Practice exams are a great study tool to use once you’ve spent some time studying and learning the material. Practice exams will make you jump around from question type to question type. You’ll also see sneaky wording, confusing questions, and unclear answers. You might also time yourself here.
Study Tool #3: Ways to Memorize Material
No matter how well you understand the big picture of a concept, sometimes you just need to cram information into your head! There’s really no other way around it.
Ideally, you’ll give yourself time to memorize step by step. For example, maybe after your first week of Reading study, you’ll have created a stack of flashcards to review. Five minutes here, five minutes there you practice with the terms. Your goal would be to build memorization into your entire study plan—rather than cramming all your cramming into the last week.
I recommend that students memorize material in a few ways, but you are welcome to do what works best for you. You’ll probably want to use some combination of these tools…
Flashcards: You can make your own or use ones already created. I have free flashcards on this site, and I provide all my students in my online course with downloadable and printable flashcards as well.
Audio: You can record yourself reading your notes and play them as you commute, fold laundry, rest your eyes, whatever. Audio is a great way to build repetition. For instance, every body system in my online course comes with an audio review.
Handwriting: You can write out facts 10x each to help cement the material in your mind. This is one of my favorite ways to study, and I did it all through college. It hurts your hand, but it works.
Time: Give yourself time! Start memorizing material the first week you study. You’ll build your mental bank of facts gradually, and you’ll be better able to recall it on test day. Yay!
Now, ideally, you aren’t memorizing every random fact. You are focusing on key terminology, strategies, and concepts where you need a little extra focus. You’ll want to build your memorizing tool kit as you go through your weekly schedule. Then, when you reach your master review week (or weeks), you’ll have a wealth of material to draw from.
ACTION STEP: Right now, take a moment to jot down some sources where you can find these lessons, both online and off.
Step 4: Where will you study?
OK, at this point you probably have an idea of the order you’ll study the material, the supplies you need, and the outline of your weekly study game plan. Awesome!
Now, we are going to link your studying to specific locations. This helps you two ways. First, you are planing to fit studying into your everyday life. You are more likely to succeed. Second, you are helping prime your brain for studying. When you pair a location with an activity, it can become a habit. For instance, maybe you study at a favorite coffee shop. Just walking into that coffee shop helps get your mind focused on work.
In general, you’ll want to pick locations to study that offer time for quick study and time for deep study. Let’s take a look at some examples.
On Monday mornings, you study in the library for an hour. Here, you study your college biology textbook, take notes, and really dive into the material.
On Monday evenings, you review flashcards for 10 minutes. You’re looking to build repetition quickly. Those 10 minutes will add up over the months.
Ideally, you want to be saying things like, “From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, I’m going to go to the library. I’ll draw the path of food through the digestive system, paying particular attention to the 14 major enzymes involved in digestion.”
Let’s walk through some ideas for different ways to study to help you get going.
Find a time and location to study intently. Here, you’ll want about an hour to work. You might…
✔️ Study at your desk at home. Put a “do not disturb” sign on the door so that family members or roommates know you are concentrating.
✔️ Pick a favorite library and block out a regular time to go there. Aim for at least twice a week, maybe for an hour at a time.
✔️ Set aside an hour on the weekend for focused study.
Find times to location for quick reviews. Here, you’ll want 10-20 minute blocks of time. You might…
✔️ Play audio review lessons while you clean, cook, or work out.
✔️ Arrive to campus or work 15 early. Review your notes in your car, at the bus stop, or in a quiet spot on campus.
✔️ Pop into a coffee shop on your way home. Spend 20 minutes enjoying a beverage and reviewing your flashcards.
✔️ Set aside a few minutes on a weekend morning to write out terms 10x each.
Finally, find times and location for practice questions and exams. You might…
✔️ Take practice exams only at the library.
✔️ Put a “do not disturb” sign on your room and note that you’ll be working for 4 hours (put the end time on the sign).
✔️ Drive to the testing center and take a practice exam in the parking lot. It might seem weird, but now you are pairing taking the exam with the location where you’ll take the exam.
✔️ Chew certain gum or wear a certain scent only when you take practice questions. Again, you are helping your mind get into the test zone.
ACTION STEP: Take a minute now to pick at least one time and and location for deep study, review work, and practice questions.
Step 5: Why will you study?
Whew! Studying for the TEAS takes dedication and planning. All this work for one standardized test? Well… yeah. Because this standardized test is the next step in your next big awesome achievement.
As you can see, you might be slogging through your TEAS studying for several months. How will you keep yourself motivated? Find your why.
For example, maybe the TEAS is just another dreaded thing on your to-do list. You have to take it.
Because you want to get into nursing school.
Because you want to become a nurse.
You’ll support people in their time of need. You’ll apply science in cool, practical, life-saving ways. You’ll work a job that’s flexible and supports you and your family. You come from a family of nurses and you want to carry on the tradition.
Whatever your big why is, try to get clear on it now. It’s your secret super power. It will help keep you going when you are tired and frustrated. It will help you get to your next big step, and it will help you stay motivated while you follow your TEAS study plan.
Putting it all together!
Step 1: What. Decide the order you’ll study TEAS subjects.
Step 2: When. Create a study calendar. I recommend at least 3 to 4 months for total study time. Group your subjects so that you can dive deep. Give yourself plenty of time for review.
Step 3: How. Select your study tools: lessons, practice questions, practice exams, and memory help.
Step 4: Where. Pick your study places. Tie specific locations to specific ways of studying. Make it work for you!
Step 5: Why. Remember your motivation.
I hope this information helps you get clear on your study goals! This is a lot of work, and you are awesome for tackling it with a plan. And one last thing: ask for help if you need it. You got this. Happy studying!
Free Resource Library
You’ll get these resources to help you with your TEAS Study Plan…
✅ Respiratory System Study Guide
✅ Respiratory System Audio Lesson
✅ TEAS Reading: 4 Types of Passages Study Guide
✅ Downloadable TEAS Study Planner
Bonus: Free Preview of Full Program
Kate is a CRLA certified tutor and test prep expert. She founded Prenursing Smarter in 2017. Kate lives in sunny Southern California and is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (Mnikȟówožu Lakȟóta). Prenursing Smarter is an inclusive business and actively seeks opportunities to collaborate with and support diverse voices.