Once you have successfully completed the course requirements for the CNA program, you are eligible to take the state examination to become a certified nursing assistant. Traditionally, your instructor will help you fill out the forms for the test and provide the correct mailing address. Although the State Board of Nursing is usually the authority that presides over CNA certification testing, your state may use the standardized national nurse assistant assessment program (NNAAP) test, or an exam written by the State Department of Health or another authoritative entity. The first part of your test may be the hands-on test that is graded by your course instructor or a state examiner. They will observe you perform patient care techniques in either a clinical setting on actual patients or on your fellow classmates in the class practice laboratory. The second part of the certification exam will involve either a paper test or a computerized exam format. Although the examination may cause some people test-related anxiety, it may help alleviate some anxiety if you have a good idea of what to expect on the test. Use the following to better prepare yourself for the CNA certification exam.
- Where can I take a CNA practice test?
- Who is eligible to take the CNA test?
- What is on the CNA test?
- What are good places to study for the CNA test?
- What is the CNA test like?
- What does the CNA test consist of?
- When can I take the CNA test?
- How hard is the CNA exam?
- How much is the CNA test?
- What is the passing score for CNA exams?
- How long is the CNA exam?
- How to retake the CNA exam?
- What is the best CNA study guide?
You can take a CNA practice test right here! The exam below consist of 60 questions that will help you familiarize yourself with the type of questions that will be on the actual CNA exam. The practice exam is free to take and you can take it as many times as you like.
The NNAAP also has a helpful online practice test with typical questions and answer key in PDF format. In addition, you can use the following resources to help you study for the exam.
- Practice Test for CNA Certification and Answer Key
- Written CNA Practice Test and Answer Key
- Sample Practice Test for CNA Certification
- Information on the Red Cross CNA Program
The 70 question exam may be given orally or as a paper test and typically includes several questions from each course subject that ensures the graduate is capable of providing safe and effective care for a patient challenged by an illness or a condition. Currently, 22 states use the NNAAP test as the certification exam and the Red Cross CNA test usually has more questions. Often, questions are divided into categories on the exam as:
- Activities of Daily Living: How well a graduate safely assists patients with daily care
- Basic Nursing Skills: Assessment, documentation, infection control and safety
- Restorative Care: Assisting patients with walkers, crutches, wheelchairs and encouraging independence as appropriate
- Mental Health: Questions about providing emotional, cultural and spiritual patient care
- The Role of the Certified Nursing Assistant: Effective communication skills, patient rights and the scope of practice of a CNA
Several websites offer assistance with CNA training and case scenarios to review while waiting to take the test.
The written or oral exam may be proctored at a classroom, test center or the educational department of a hospital. Generally, the amount of time allotted for the paper test is two hours. The performance part of the test may be conducted at a skills lab in a classroom or given at an actual hospital setting with patients. To reduce the anxiety of taking tests in front of examiners, practice each class module as much as possible.
Depending on the state the test is administered in, the performance skills test may be graded by a certified instructor, registered nurse or a nursing board examiner. The program graduate is assigned three or four tasks that represent the performance skills studied in class. Taking blood pressure, transference of a paralyzed patient, skin care or any other skill may be observed and graded by the examiner in accordance with:
- Patient Privacy: Always knock on the door when entering a client’s room.
- Infection Control: Hand washing techniques performed before and after patient care.
- Prevention Techniques: Provide safe care and protect the patient from falls, injuries and accidents during the performance skills.
- Vital Signs: Performing technical skills correctly and reliably, and knowing when abnormal values need to be reported to the physician.
- Communication Skills: Document effective patient notes and perform an adequate assessment.
On completion of the CNA program, you will receive a certificate of completion that will be mailed to the board of nursing or department of health by your program instructor. In approximately two to six weeks, you should receive your appointment for the exam in the mail.
The exam is usually on a high school level with some memorization required in certain subjects. Performance skills take practice to learn and some people have a better aptitude for hands-on than the classroom work and vice versa.
Depending on your state of origin, both the skills test and the written exam may cost anywhere from $65 to $120 dollars or more. Check with your local board of nursing to find out how much the exam costs in your state.
For most certification exams, including the NNAAP and the Red Cross CNA exam, a passing grade is 80 percent. The performance portion is usually a pass or fail grade.
The written exam is usually 70 to 80 questions and the candidate is given about two hours to complete the test. The performance skills section may give 30 minutes to complete three to five CNA skills. Since time management is an important part of being a CNA, these time restraints are taken seriously and are final.
In most states, if you fail the written exam or the performance skills section, you are able to re-take the CNA exam as long as two years have not lapsed since your graduation from the CNA program. If you have received a failure notice in the mail, there is usually a re-take form you may mail in to the boards.
Investing in a good study guide can help your organize your thoughts and feel confident about taking the CNA exam. A guide with a practice test on an interactive DVD can be helpful to a student studying for the test. Reviewing coursework and re-reading textbooks and assignments from the program is also a good way to review before taking the exam. The leading study guide for the NNAAP is the NNAAP National Nurse Aide Assessment Program Exam Study Guide.