8 Things You Need to Know About Your CNA Exam

Taking the CNA exam is something you’ll do right at the beginning of your medical career, but there are few things that are more important than getting ready for it. After all, if you can’t pass this exam, you will miss out on an exciting career!

So, what do you need to know about this all-important CNA test?

1. It is not optional

If you want to work as a certified nursing assistant, you have to pass the CNA exam; it’s as easy as that! No matter how many courses you’ve taken, if you want to officially get a CNA degree, you’ll need to pass this test. Until you do, you won’t be eligible for any nurse aide registries.

2. You can work without taking the test – but only temporarilycna exam

If you want to get a jump on the job market, you can get a job before you pass this exam. However, that doesn’t mean you can put off taking the test indefinitely.

The rules on this will vary depending on where you live, but in most cases, you only have a couple of months to pass the test once you have been hired. If you miss the deadline, your employer is required to keep you from having any direct contact with patients.

3. You won’t just need a pencil

The CNA exam is made up of two different parts – the written (or oral) section and hands-on skills section.

The written portion does exactly what it sounds like – it is a multiple-choice test that usually contains about 70 questions. This part of the test is timed, and in most cases, you will have about two hours to finish it.

The hands-on skills section is designed to measure your physical skills. It takes place in a typical CNA work environment (like a hospital or nursing home), and you’ll be asked to bring someone along that can act as your “patient.” During the test, you will be given five tasks to complete in front of an examiner.

4. It doesn’t just cover the basics

If there is anything you need to remember during the certified nursing assistant exam it’s that details matter! Sure, you will be asked to do basic things – like taking blood pressure and moving a patient from a bed into a wheelchair. However, you’ll also have to focus on the tiniest of details if you want to convince your examiner that you are ready for the real world.

For example, you need to make sure you are wearing non-skid shoes. If you don’t, it is considered a safety violation, and you’ll lose points. You must also remember the “little things” – like knocking on a patient’s door before you enter the room or closing the privacy curtain before you do anything else.

5. Communication is key

During the CNA exam, you will be evaluated on two things – how much you know AND how you treat your patients. All the knowledge in the world won’t help if patients feel uncomfortable around you!

Your examiner will be looking to see if you are communicating well with the patient. For example, if you explain each step to the patient so that he or she doesn’t get confused. Or, in case you are asked to comb your patient’s hair, start by asking him or her how he or she wants it styled. That kind of communication will make patients feel secure in your care, and it will show your examiner that you are indeed ready for the real world.

6. You will gain (or lose!) big points for safety

As important as it is that your patients feel comfortable, your biggest priority is to keep them safe. That means being able to remember every safety detail during the CNA exam – like setting the brake on the wheelchair before you load the patient into it or making sure the bed side rails are up when you leave the room.

7. Practice makes perfect

If you have signed up for a good certification program, your school will do everything it can to help you get ready for the nursing aide exam – like providing you with practice tests and study guides, in addition to giving you the proper instruction.

However, it is up to you to make sure that all of their hard work gets put to good use! Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare for this important day. The more practice tests you take, the more confident you will feel during the written portion.

As for the hands-on part, look online for videos that demonstrate the skills perfectly (YouTube can be a great resource). Consider it to be like a star athlete who watches a film of the opponent before the big game!

8. Make sure you are focused on your state or province

Various places have different regulations and standards, so do not just get any ol’ practice test or video in preparation for your CNA exam. After all, the last thing you want is to focus on things that don’t apply to you!


NNAAP Nurse Aide Practice Exam Packet

Canadian Nurses Association

State Nurse Aide Registry List


10 Responses to “8 Things You Need to Know About Your CNA Exam”

  1. Arnold says:

    How often does a CNA get tested or must take this exam?

    • Dayton says:

      Hi Arnold,

      you need to pass the CNA exam once to be eligible for being placed on the nurse aide registry. However, generally your license must be renewed biannually. To qualify for renewal you have to meet some requirements which can vary from state to state. If you’re not eligible for re-certification you may be required to take the exam again.

  2. Jennifer D. says:

    The practice tests are very worthwhile. To those reading – you need to take full advantage of them.

    • Dayton says:

      Yes Jennifer, that’s why I put that link at the resources section. So everyone interested in becoming a CNA can take advantage of it.

  3. Alexis says:

    Do you have more specific detail about the tasks involved with working with the ‘patient’ during the test? What type of tasks are involved?

  4. Ashley says:

    Hi, I know you may not know the answer to this… but I’m going to ask anyway. Due to the fact I’m pregnant, if I have a skill that involves lifting. If I explain the procedure to the examiner do you think they would take points off or fail me??

    • Dayton says:

      Hi Ashly, thanks for visiting. It would be best to contact the company who administers the CNA testing in your state. I’m sure they are able to help you with your question. There are some links available in the resources’ section below the article.

  5. Malarie says:

    Hey Dayton,

    I have my application for the NNAAP exam in hand, and was wondering what the difference between the “Written Exam and Skills Evaluation” and the “Oral Exam and Skills Evaluation” tests are. I am not sure if I need to take both.

    • Dayton says:

      Hi Malarie,

      Thanks for your question. The CNA exam consists of two parts, the written (or oral) part and a hands-on part named Skills Evaluation test. You need to pass both in order to become a CNA.

      And good luck for your exam!

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