Preparing for the Certified Nursing Assistant Exam

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Are you interested in finding work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in the healthcare sector, one of the fastest growing industries in the country?  If so, you will need to take a state approved Certified Nursing Assistant Exam, and upon successfully completing it enroll in your state’s nursing registry.

Also called the nurse aid assessment examination, the test is typically taken either at the facility where a candidate has completed a formal training program or at a state-approved testing facility.

To properly prepare to take the test and begin your career as a certified nursing assistant the first step is to find out exactly what is expected of those being tested.

Requirements for taking the Certified Nursing Assistant Exam

The requirements for taking the exam will vary from state to state; generally speaking, candidates will need to accomplish the following prior to sitting for the test.

1)    Be at least 16-18 years of age.

2)    Show proof of completion of an approved training program, either at an educational institution such as a community college or vocational school, or at a medical facility, for example a hospital or nursing home.

3)    Most states will require a fee to take the exam.

Finding the right program to complete in order to become eligible to take the CNA exam is important, as one that is well-designed is likely to substantially improve your chances of passing the test.

On-the-job training programs, either at hospitals or other healthcare facilities can be a good way to go, but they are not easy to find and will typically require that candidates continue to work for them after becoming certified for a set amount of time.

Vocational schools and for-profit and community colleges, both through in-person and online programs, are the main sources of training for aspiring CNAs. The American Red Cross offers nurse assistant training courses in many states as well.

Practicing for the exam

Once all the prerequisites have been completed, it’s time to get in some final practice before taking the exam.

If you are enrolled in a formal training program which includes a certification exam you will likely get a chance to take some practice tests before taking the exam.

If not, there are a number of online services which provide free or low-cost access to practice tests.  Taking a few of these is highly recommended, as it will give a candidate a chance to see how ready he or she is to take the official version of the exam.

Taking the exam

Now it’s time to put all your training to the test and take the exam.  The two major components of the test are the written and clinical segments, which will determine if a candidate possesses both the knowledge needed for the job and the ability to put that knowledge into practice.

The written portion of the test consists of approximately 70 questions in multiple choice formats.  The percentage of questions which need to be answered correctly to pass the test will be determined by each state.

For the clinical or hands-on portion of the test, a candidate must exhibit an 80% or better competency rate in each task as determined by an evaluator.

The candidate will generally be asked to perform 5 procedures to demonstrate his or her proficiency.  While the clinical portion of the exam will not test for every nursing skill, the candidate will not be told in advance which skills will be subject to testing.

Generally speaking, approximately 30 minutes will be allotted to finishing this section of the test.

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