What's Tested on the TEAS: Reading

What’s Tested on the TEAS: Reading

Understanding written material will be critical to your success in a nursing or health science program and to your ability to care for clients as a health care professional. Whether reading a textbook, a patient’s chart, a healthcare facility’s policies, or research study results, you will need to be able to grasp an author’s main idea and purpose in writing, evaluate trends or patterns in words and data, focus on important details, draw appropriate conclusions on the basis of what you’ve read, and apply information and conclusions to your work. The TEAS Reading content area tests your ability to perform these tasks.


The TEAS Reading Content Area

Of the 170 items on the TEAS, 53 will be in the Reading content area, and you will have 64 minutes to answer them.

While you have on average just over a minute per question, most questions will require reading a
short passage or a figure or table first. As a rule of thumb, if you invest about 45 seconds in reading a paragraph of text, a table, or a figure and take about 30 seconds to answer each question, you will stay on pace to complete the Reading section.

Example: A three-paragraph text passage has four questions associated with it.

45 seconds × 3 paragraphs = 2 minutes 15 seconds

30 seconds × 4 questions = 2 minutes

Reading the passage and answering four questions takes 4 minutes 15 seconds.

Of course, some passages, tables, and figures are very short and will take much less than 45 seconds to read, while others are longer and will require more time to map. Some questions will not refer to any information beyond what’s in the question itself. The key is to work at a steady pace. Reading in a hurry because you are worried about time will lead to choosing wrong answers.

Of the 53 Reading questions, 47 will be scored and 6 will be unscored. You won’t know which questions are unscored, so do your best on every question.

The 47 scored Reading questions come from three sub-content areas:

Sub-content AreasNumber of Questions
Key ideas and details22
Craft and structure14
Integration of knowledge and ideas11


The Kaplan Method for Reading

Reading on the TEAS requires a strategic approach. Following the Kaplan Method for Reading helps you
get the correct answer efficiently, without wasting time.

  • Step 1: Read the stimulus strategically.

    The stimulus is the passage, figure, or chart on which the questions are based. Reading strategically means paying special attention to the topic and scope of the stimulus. The topic is the subject the author is writing about, and the scope is the specific aspect of that topic in which the author is interested. In a passage, the topic and scope are often found in the first few sentences. In a figure or graph, they are often found in the title, headings, and labels. Also, seek to understand the author’s purpose in writing. Often, this is to explain a process, describe a topic, or outline information, but sometimes the author is presenting a particular point of view or seeking to persuade the reader.

    When the stimulus is a passage of more than a few sentences or a figure or table of any complexity, you should also take notes as you read. Your notes should sum up the important ideas of the stimulus. Write notes in your own words and use abbreviations and symbols. Your notes become a map of the stimulus, both summarizing important information and helping you find details to answer questions. Investing time in understanding the stimulus helps you answer the questions more efficiently.

    Note: Some questions do not refer to a stimulus. When this is the case, proceed directly to step 2. Also, if there is only one question on a stimulus, read the question first (step 2) and then read the stimulus strategically as you research the answer to that question (combining steps 1 and 3).

  • Step 2: Analyze the question.

    Determine exactly what the question asks you to find. Is it asking for the author’s main point or primary purpose in writing? Or is it asking for a detail from the stimulus? Or is it asking you to make an inference based on the stimulus? Or is it asking why the author included some detail or feature? How you research your map and the stimulus and what you will look for in a correct answer depend on the task in the question.

  • Step 3: Research.

    Research the answer in the stimulus. If you mapped it in step 1, your map will help you find the right place quickly; read your notes and, as needed, the appropriate portion of the stimulus.

    If you are reading the stimulus for the first time, because there is only one question on the stimulus, then make sure to read it strategically. Many TEAS questions require you to grasp the big picture of a stimulus, interpret a detail in context, or connect the dots between different details.

  • Step 4: Predict the answer.

    Before looking at the answer choices, predict the correct answer. Having the answer clearly in mind before looking at the choices will help you choose the correct answer and not be misled by choices that “sound right” but aren’t actually correct.

    Some questions are open-ended and don’t allow for a precise prediction. Examples are “Based on the passage, what conclusion can you reasonably draw?” or “Which of the following questions are answered by the passage?” Even in these cases, you can review your map and prepare a mental checklist of the important ideas and information in the stimulus. The correct answer will align with one of those.

  • Step 5: Evaluate the answer choices.

    Evaluate the answer choices looking for a match for your prediction and eliminating choices that do not match. If the answer you expected is not there, revisit Steps 2–4 to refine your thinking.