CNA Certification Exam

When choosing a CNA training facility, most State Boards of Nursing have a list of approved training programs (which you can find here on our website), as well as a chart showing the number of students who pass each portion of the test the first time. It is important to look at those numbers because it gives the prospective trainee an idea of how thorough the facility’s training is, or at the very least how thoroughly they emphasize exam preparation.

Passing the written portion is not that difficult. In most cases, close to 90% of trainees pass the written portion of the CNA examination the first time. However, when it comes to the clinical or practical portion of the CNA exam, those numbers fall below 75%.

The Written Exam

It is fairly easy to pass a written multiple choice exam, if one has studied and absorbed the material, just from recognition. The exam does require careful reading of each question. Too quick reading can result in a misunderstanding of what the question is asking specifically.  The test is timed, but it does not require one to hurry. There is adequate time to read the question thoroughly and answer it. Most state BONs also provide CNA practice exams which can be used by students to families themselves with the exam format.

Manual Skills Exam

It is not so easy, though, to demonstrate one’s knowledge of procedure. First, there is the nervousness factor. The State Exam requires that the trainee demonstrate 80% knowledge of each procedure without missing any key steps. Note that it is not 80% overall – it means that one must demonstrate at least 80% knowledge of each requested area. The examiner rarely requests one to demonstrate every single area of competency, but the examinee will not know which areas will be tested.

Procedural Practice

Therefore, it is important that the student practice procedures over and over before taking the exam. That is one advantage to taking a facility’s own training because often one will be permitted to work on the floor and practice those skills directly before taking the CNA exam. One must also keep in mind that there may be required skills that one will not have the opportunity to practice in a live setting beforehand, but that does not mean that the trainee will be exempt from demonstrating those procedures.

Visualizing for Recall

One of the greatest techniques for recall after leaving the training setting is to have a list of required procedures. This allows the trainee to go through the list, visualizing the procedure in detail. This visualization can occur any time, in any setting, giving the trainee infinite opportunities to reinforce his or her training before attempting the exam.

Retaking the Exam

Of course one will have the opportunity to retake the exam if he or she does not pass the first time. However, the retakes are often at the trainee’s own expense, and if travel is required to get to the State Board Office, that can be another obstacle to retaking the exam. It is better to be fully prepared the first time.