CNA Practice Test & Study Guide

Getting Personal with the CNA Test

After completing CNA training that meets the requirements of the state, each student must pass the CNA certification exam before being licensed or certified to work with patients in an actual clinical setting. All states require students to pass the competency exam to prove that they have the classroom theory knowledge as well as the hands-on skills to practice safe and effective patient care under the supervision of a licensed nurse.

The CNA test is usually a two-part test that is taken at a local college or regional testing site. The first part is a written knowledge exam, and the second part is a hands-on clinical skills test. Each state has different rules regarding it. For example, some require registered nurses to preside over the test while other use qualified instructors or nurse aide evaluators. The NNAAP, also called the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program, is used by 25 states and is given through Pearson VUE. Other states use Prometric or Diversified Technologies for evaluating nurse aides while others use similar versions written by their nursing board. Students will need to complete the test within six months and up to two years following training depending on their states’ specific rules.

CNA Certification Testing Procedure

Apply for the CNA State Test

After training, the next step to becoming a CNA is to register for the competency examination. Registration can often be done online using the state’s Board of Nursing Website or the Pearson VUE or Prometric Websites. However, some states require students to fill out an application and mail or fax it in. Please visit our search by State page for more accurate information about your States’ CNA test.

The test can be taken at many sites, including American Red Cross locations, community colleges, and approved nursing homes and hospitals. While costs vary among states, most states charge between $80 to $110 to take both sections of the examination. Rescheduling often requires an additional fee.

Students need be prepared when they arrive at the center on testing day. They must bring their authorizations to test as well as two forms of identification, one of which must have a photograph. Most states require applicants to wear a typical CNA uniform and closed-toe, non-skid shoes for the skills test and to bring a watch with a second hand. Students should also have several number two pencils with erasers for the written portion of the test.

Complete the Written Test

When students arrive for the competency examination, they should expect to take the written exam first. Most written tests are completed with pencil and paper. However, some can be taken using computers, or they can be taken orally upon request. Students can expect between 60 to 70 multiple-choice questions depending on their states.

Once again, while many states follow different testing guidelines, most tests conform closely to the NNAAP version used by Pearson VUE in 25 states. The NNAAP written examination tests three core domains, which include physical care skills, psychosocial care skills and the role of the nurse aide. Of these three, physical care skills are by far the most important with 37 of the test questions belonging to this domain. Students should particularly study basic nursing skills, such as infection control, safety and data collection. Of the other two sections, students will find the most content weight going to emotional and mental health needs as well as to communication.

Complete the Skills Test

The skills section of the examination tests students on hands-on CNA skills that they will demonstrate in front of a nurse aide evaluator who may or may not be a registered nurse. This section is timed, and students will have between 25 to 41 minutes to complete their assigned skills. Depending on the state, students must perform between five to seven skills on a mannequin or an actor who is often a fellow tester. Most of the skills are chosen randomly on test day. To pass, students must usually score at least a 70 or 80% and must perform all of the critical steps accurately.

Students are often tested on hand washing before completing the remaining assigned tasks. Other tasks could include making an occupied bed, using a gait transfer belt, giving a partial bed bath, performing range-of-motion on one limb and taking a measurement, such as a blood pressure, radial pulse or urine output. IMPORTANT NOTE! During the entire test, students must keep their hands clean and dispose of waste properly.

Wait... for Grades

While some states mail out test results within five to ten days following the examination, the majority of states provide test results on the day of the exam. Students who take the knowledge test on a computer will find out their results immediately after they submit their answers. Those who take this section with pencil and paper and those completing the skills section will often have their answers faxed in to be graded and will receive their scores approximately 10 minutes later.

Passing scores vary by the entity providing the test for the state. The knowledge examination must typically be passed with an 80% or higher grade; this is true for American Red Cross examinations as well as the NNAAP. However, some states require only 70 or 75%. The skills test is sometimes graded by a percent but is often graded using a pass/fail system. However, students must complete all critical steps correctly, or they will automatically fail this section.

I passed, what do I do now?

After passing the competency examination, applicants will have their information, including their passing test scores, submitted to the state for approval. Some states approve applicants very quickly and have individuals listed on the state nurses aide registry within two to three days. Other states may take up to three weeks to process information, list applicants on the state’s CNA registry and send out certificates. However, until the applicant is officially listed on the state’s registry, which may often be found online, they are not technically CNAs. To be listed on a registry, applicants must be fingerprinted and have criminal background checks completed before testing.

Applicants should note that most states allow first-time applicants to work as CNAs for 120 days before becoming registered. This gives applicants a chance to take CNA classes as well as apply for and take the examination while working. This 120-day timeframe cannot be extended for any reason and can only be used once.

I failed, am I screwed?

Students who fail one or both components of the competency examination must retake the section or sections that they failed. When they receive their failing grades, they will also receive information on how to reschedule a test for a different day. They will need to reapply and wait to receive a new authorization to test.

While not the same for every state, most states give students up to three chances to pass the examination before being required to retrain. Depending on the state, students will also be required to complete the examination successfully within one or two years from the completion of training. The same fees will apply for retesting as were charged for the initial examination. Students must often wait for a certain number of days, such as a month, before retaking the test, which will give them time to reapply and repay the fees.

Your Score:  

Your Grade:  

Prometric CNA Practice Test Video

For the visual learners, here’s a video of a Prometric practice test.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can you find additional CNA practice exams?

In addition to being able to find and take the NNAAP practice exam on FindCNAClasses, you can also find a list of other CNA practice exams below:

Prometric CNA Practice Exam (not free) – Link (free) – Link

Where can I take the CNA test?

The CNA competency examination is administered in a secure environment that has been approved by the state’s Board of Nursing or related department. Each state typically has several testing sites, which may be located at community colleges, American Red Cross locations, nursing homes or stand-alone testing centers.

Can I take the State test at home?

The CNA certification exam can often be performed using a special computerized system that utilizes the Internet. However, even in these situations, the examination must always be given in a secure, controlled environment with approved proctors for both the written and the practical sections.

What does NNAAP stand for?

NNAAP is short for National Nurse Aide Assessment Program. The NNAAP is a CNA exam used by 25 NCSBN jurisdictions.

Where can I find the CNA exam questions?

There is no way to tell exactly what questions will be asked on the knowledge tests. However, most testing vendors provide 60 sample questions in their CNA manuals along with the correct answers. Manuals typically list potential skills that could be tested.

How much does the CNA exam cost?

The cost of the CNA exam can vary by state but typical costs are around $80-$110 to take both portions of the exam. Check with your nurse aide registry for accurate cost estimates.

What is the passing score of CNA exams?

Passing scores differ based on the testing vendor. However, the most popular vendor, Pearson VUE, who uses the NNAAP, requires a passing score of 80% on the written examination. Prometric, which is used by 12 states, requires a passing score of 70%.

How much time is allotted for the written/skills test?

Pearson VUE gives two hours for completion of the written examination and 30 minutes to complete the skills evaluation. Some other vendors provide 90 minutes for the written exam and 25 to 41 minutes for the skills section depending on the skills that are randomly chosen on test day.

Can I retake the exam if I fail?

The cost to attend CNA training may be greater than some students can handle. Many schools as well as professional nursing organizations offer scholarships to qualifying students. Scholarship applications often require the student to write an essay. Another option is Federal Student Aid, which can be easier to repay than private loans are. The Pell Grant is found at many community colleges, and the Workforce Investment Act is designed to help low-income individuals.

Can I challenge the NNAAP or equivalent CNA exam?

Some individuals may be allowed to take the CNA examination without first completing training. Depending on the individual state’s rules, student nurses, graduate nurses, foreign nurses, CNAs with expired licenses and persons with equivalent military medical training may challenge the examination.

Does the American Red Cross use NNAAP for CNA testing?

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing uses Pearson VUE rather than the American Red Cross to administer the NNAAP. However, Red Cross uses a similar examination with the same number of questions and the same time limit that is also based on national CNA standards.

Is there a NNAAP practice test?

There is! And you’ve come to the right place because you can take an interactive version of the NNAAP exam right here on this page. Simple scroll to the practice exam section and take the quiz.

Is the CNA practice test free?

The NNAAP practice test is free and available for you to take right here on this page. You can also visit Asisvcs for a printable PDF version of the practice test.

What are some additional resources to help me with the exam?

There a tons of information around the web to help you with the CNA test. Some are great while others don’t necessarily have your interests in mind. Well I do and I’ve provided additional resource for you below:

CNA Exam Cram Book – link
Content Outline for NNAAP 2016 – link
NNAAP Practice Written Exam Packet – link
NNAAP Practice Skills List Packet – link

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