The increased need for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in healthcare positions has opened a wide variety of state-approved programs across the country in response to the high demand. Although the training may be hard, smart study habits and innovative approaches to learning can effectively help you pass the state competency exam the first time.
Your CNA Program Provides the Answers
As demonstrated in past versions of the CNA Competency Exam, your test is most likely in a multiple-choice format that may have one or several correct answers or “none of the above.” This testing arrangement is designed to take the guesswork out of your answers and measure exactly what you do or do not know.
However, the good news is that every correct answer on that test is included in the lectures, learning assignments and textbooks required in your CNA program of study. If you dedicate yourself to absorbing all the learning material presented in class, you may even ace your written certification exam.
Read Chapters and Page Assignments
If you are accustomed to skimming a reading assignment and getting by with a passing grade, this approach to learning may not result in a passing score on your state exam. A state accredited CNA program is designed to provide you with all the information and learning opportunities you require to pass your final certification test. Read all the assignments thoroughly and thoughtfully to ensure a better chance for a passing score.
Organize Notes and Highlight Hints
Occasionally, your instructor may draw your attention to a particular question or emphasize an answer during an assignment. Most likely, he or she is giving you a “hint” that this may be substantial enough to appear on your certification examination. Write down the hint and highlight it in your study notes.
After your class, it will be important to rewrite your class notes and organize them for a review in the future. Although this may take some time, it is important to have them available in a format that you can follow and study before the exam. This method of learning also provides a mini-review of the material you have learned that day.
The Flashcard Approach
Experts agree that the index card method of learning material is extremely helpful and useful. Especially useful for learning and memorizing by association, flashcards are excellent for reviewing material such as:
- Muscles, bones and organs
- Blood pressure and heart rate normal values
- Medical terminology and abbreviations
- Requirements for a diabetic, cardiac and a salt free diet
The Day Before Your Exam
Pace your study sessions, avoid “cramming” right before a test and ensure that you sleep at least eight hours the night before your test. Anticipate a level of nervousness before the exam day and avoid caffeinated beverages or a meal that contains a high amount of sugar. Other best methods for test preparation include:
- Stay calm and feel confident
- Arrive early for your test appointment
- Dress comfortably, but stay alert
- Ensure you gather your photo ID and other documents the night before
- Take your time and read the directions completely
Ensure you take your time and return to a question later if you are not sure of the answer. Many educators believe that your first response is correct and do not recommend that you change your answers. It is important to remember that not passing your exam is not the end of your career. Most states allow test taking up to three times to achieve a successful outcome.