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Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) Exam Guide

Those who wish to become a certified nursing assistant are required to pass the CNA exam, i.e. NNAAP (National Nurse Aide Assessment Program). The NNAAP exam generally comprises of two sections- a skill demonstration portion and a written or oral portion. The oral section of this test is offered in two languages- Spanish and English. Candidates need to pass both the sections of the exam, in order to get listed on the state nurse aide registry. CNA tests are conducted to check the competence level of the aspirants, and to establish that they can offer the best care to the patients in the real work settings. Your name will get listed on the state nurse aide registry only when you clear the examination.

Where to take the NNAAP exam?

The NNAAP exam is administered in those states which have an agreement with the testing vendor- Pearson VUE. Before appearing for the certification exam, candidates are required to contact the nursing assistant program in their state, and meet the eligibility criteria to take the training. Next, schedule the testing dates and time by contacting the educational program or training site.

Exam Structure

As discussed earlier, the nurse aide exam consists of written or oral and skills evaluation exam. Both the exams are conducted on the similar day.

Written Exam

The written examination comprises multiple-choice questions. One can expect 70 questions from different topics. Students are allotted 2 hours of time to complete the training. If you have any difficulty in reading English, you can take oral exam that consists of 10 reading comprehension and 60 multiple-choice questions.

In written exam, you may be asked questions from the following areas:

  • Role of the Nursing Assistants
    • Member of the Health Care Team
    • Communication
    • Ethical and Legal Behavior
    • Client Rights
  • Psychosocial Care Skills
    • Cultural and Spiritual Needs
    • Mental Health and Emotional Needs 
  • Physical Care Skills
    • Activities of Daily Living 
      • Rest/Sleep/Comfort
      • Hydration and Nutrition
      • Hygiene
      • Grooming and Dressing
      • Elimination
    • Basic Nursing Skills 
      • Therapeutic/Technical Procedures
      • Infection Control
      • Data Collection and Reporting
      • Safety/Emergency
    • Restorative Skills 
      • Self-Care/Independence
      • Prevention

Skills Evaluation

During skills evaluation test, the candidates may be asked to perform five randomly selected nursing skills which were taught to them in the clinical session of the training. Your performance will be judged by a Nurse Aide Evaluator. Your scores will be generated on the basis of how well you execute the given task, and the way you communicate with the patient.

Here are a few skills in which you may be tested:

  • Personal Care - The major aspect of a CNA job is grooming and bathing patients. Therefore, this skill is tested in the exam.
  • Use of Restorative Devices - You must be familiar with how to assist others in using mobility aids that include crutches, walkers, and prostheses, and devices that are used to improve the lifestyle or functions of a patient like catheters or other bowel and training fixtures. 
  • General Nursing Skills - These abilities include washing hands (yours and patients’), sustaining a clean environment, identifying abnormalities and symptoms in routine.

Tips for the Exam Day

  • All the students must reach the testing site at least 30 minutes before starting of the exam.
  • Bring Social Security Card and approved photo ID with you.
  • Do not carry study materials to the site.
  • While appearing for the skills test, don’t forget to don non-skid shoes, and scrubs.
  • Practice meditation or deep breathing. It will keep you relaxed during the test.

What if you fail to clear the exam in first attempt?

Candidates who fail to qualify the exam in the first attempt need not worry as they are provided with 2 more chances to take the test. However, if you fail to clear the examination in all the 3 attempts, you will have to retake the training.

Tricks to Crack the Nurse Aide Exam

Try these tips to score better in the certified nurse assistant exam:

  • Choose the Right CNA School
    Your school plays a significant role in preparation for the exam. An accredited training program meets the federal requirements, and provides the quality education to the students. You must also check the passing rate of the school before enrolling in it.
  • Clear Your Doubts
    Don’t keep any doubt in your mind. If you have any, discuss it with the instructor of your training program.
  • Take the CNA Practice Tests More Often
    A wide number of free online practice tests are available for the aspirants to prepare them for the NNAAP. These practice exams make you aware of the different types of questions that might appear in the actual exam. In case you want to try different test- taking situations, you can combine free and paid practice tests.
  • Make Use of Good Study Tools
    Always choose good study materials to increase your chances of clearing the CNA exam in one attempt. Study from the notes and textbooks provided by your training program. While choosing any online resource, ensure that it is authenticated.
  • Communicate with Other People
    Interact with your friends, who have already given this exam. These people can guide you in a better way. You may request your friends and family members to pop up a few flashcards or quizzes. You can also have them sit by your side and make them listen, while you give details about what you have learned about being a CNA. You can also discuss important and difficult topics with your friends. This will help you enhance your abilities to memorize the various nursing concepts.
  • Do Regular Studies
    Instead of leaving all the topics to read for the last moment, prepare them from well in advance. It will save you from stressful situations in future, and provide you enough time for revision as well.