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The Definitive Practice Test Guide for the CNA

About the CNA

The Certified Nursing Assistant exam, commonly known as the CNA exam, is often a prerequisite for individuals aiming to work as a CNA in many states. While the requirements differ from state to state, the content of the exam might also vary. Most states collaborate with third-party examination companies, such as NNAAP and Prometric, to oversee and administer the exam. The primary purpose of this examination is to evaluate candidates on both the required knowledge and the clinical skills indispensable for competent CNA practice.

The written portion of the CNA exam is usually composed of 60 multiple-choice questions that must be answered within 90 minutes. In most states, you need to obtain a score of 70% or higher on both the written and clinical skills parts of the exam to receive your CNA certification. Because the test can vary by state, it is recommended to contact your local testing center before your scheduled test to make sure you have all the necessary details.

CNA Nurse Aide Registry

Every state has slightly different rules for CNA training, licensing requirements, and license renewals. Generally speaking, you will need to put in a certain number of hours for classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Once you have completed your training, you will need to prove your knowledge with both a written exam and a skills test. Find the specific requirements for your state below:

Sections of the CNA

Activities of Daily Living

A significant part of a nursing assistant’s role involves assisting patients with activities of daily living, or ADLs. These include feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, and ambulating. CNAs must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to provide efficient and effective support in these activities. They play a crucial role in ensuring patients receive proper nutrition and hydration, assisting with personal hygiene, helping patients select appropriate clothing, aiding in using the bathroom, and safely assisting patients in moving from one location to another. Their expertise and attentiveness in ADLs are essential for the well-being and dignity of patients.

Basic Nursing Skills

As a member of the healthcare team that provides “bedside” care, the nursing assistant needs several basic nursing skills to provide safe and effective care to their patients. Being able to take and record vital signs and weights, helping the patient with activities of daily living, and being well-versed in infection control methods are requirements of the job in virtually every setting.

Client Rights

In 1973, the American Hospital Association came out with the Patient’s Bill of Rights to help make more clear what rights all people were entitled to when they found themselves as a patient in the healthcare setting. For example, every patient has the right to be free from the unauthorized use of restraints and to use their clothing/possessions as long as they are not hazardous or do not infringe on the rights of another. Knowing the patient’s rights is critical for the nursing assistant who wishes to provide ethical, safe care, and violating these rights could cost the nursing assistant her job—and may even result in legal action.


Communication skills play a massive role in the job of the nursing assistant. This CNA practice test will evaluate your ability to communicate clearly with team members regarding patient care, which is critical to providing safe, effective care in any healthcare setting. When communicating with residents, cultural competence, caring, and active listening skills are also needed for you to be an effective and efficient nursing assistant.

Emotional and Mental Health Needs

As a caregiver to a vulnerable population, the nursing assistant must be well-versed in caring for the emotional and mental health needs of the patient. This can range from something as simple as sharing in a happy moment with a patient, or as complex as being empathic when the patient is grieving a loss.

Abuse, assault, negligence, and invasion of privacy are all acts that are considered unethical and could lead to big trouble for the nursing assistant. As a professional working in the healthcare setting, the nursing assistant must know the rules and regulations surrounding their job description. Performing duties outside of one’s scope of practice or performing duties incorrectly could result in losing a job or even legal action.

Member of a Healthcare Team

The nursing assistant is a vital part of the healthcare team. Because they deliver so much hands-on care to the patient, the nursing assistant is often the first to realize something is wrong and, therefore, may prevent a serious problem or complication from occurring. The member of a healthcare team section of the CNA practice test covers working under the direct supervision of an RN or LPN.

Restorative Skills

Therapeutic skills are skills the nursing assistant has that help enable the patient to function to the best of their ability or to prevent an injury or complications from occurring. An example could be turning a bedridden patient every two hours to prevent bedsores or encouraging a stubborn patient to walk three times daily as directed by their nursing care plan. These topics are covered in the restorative skills CNA practice test.

Spiritual and Cultural Issues

America is very diverse, and the healthcare setting reflects that diversity. As a nursing assistant, you often encounter patients or co-workers with a different culture or religion than yours. Being sensitive and respectful of these differences will help you work well with others and help the patient feel like their spiritual and cultural needs are being considered.

What to Expect on Test Day

Taking the CNA exam can be nerve-wracking, but it always helps when you know what to expect before you arrive on exam day. The best way to do this is to contact your testing site and inquire about what time you should arrive and what materials are necessary for you to bring. You should get a good night’s sleep and eat a nutritious meal before leaving for the testing site.

Taking both the written portion and the clinical skills portion of the exam may take several hours, so you should be prepared to remain at the testing location for that duration. It’s also a great idea to arrive early so that you have sufficient time to register.

What to Bring

Since the testing requirements vary from state to state, it’s always a good idea to check with the testing location beforehand to find out what they need you to bring on exam day. Examples of common documents requested may include:

  • Legal identification/proof of age
  • Parental consent is required (in states that allow examinees under the age of 18)
  • High school diploma/GED equivalent
  • Physical examination records
  • Proof of immunization/TB testing results
  • Background check
  • CPR/First Aid certifications

What Not to Bring

Determining what not to bring on exam day is also best done by contacting the testing site. However, since the exam is generally proctored by third-party testing services, examinees are generally prohibited from bringing personal belongings, study materials, and electronic devices with them while taking the exam. It’s good practice to leave these materials at home or in your vehicle.

Best Ways to Study for the CNA Exam

Take CNA Practice Tests

CNA practice tests are one of the best ways to ensure that you are studying for and learning the right content. Practice tests help you to identify your weaker areas, allowing you to focus your studying efforts so that you better understand all of the elements you may encounter on the exam. CNA practice tests may also include information about the clinical skills you will be tested on during that portion of the exam. These practices tests are a great way to ensure you are ready to successfully pass the CNA exam when you arrive on your testing day.

Use Alternative Study Methods

While many examinees find that CNA practice tests are a crucial tool in preparing for the exam, some individuals also find that alternative testing materials can enhance their preparation. Flashcards and study guides for the CNA exam present the content in another way, which can be helpful for learning and retaining the information.

Simulate the Testing Experience

You can boost the value of CNA practice tests by using them to simulate the overall testing experience. Try taking these exams within the allotted time, and go through the motions of some of the commonly tested clinical skills with an observer (family member or friend) present. These activities will help you to understand how you will perform under pressure. And many examinees find that this process can help calm their nerves and ensure that they are ready to perform their best on test day.

CNA Exam Tips and Tricks

Pay Attention to Required Conversions

CNA multiple-choice exam questions commonly request conversions from one unit of measurement to another. Read the questions carefully so that you know what information they are seeking and select the right unit of measurement.

Answer the Questions You Know First

It’s never a good idea to spend too much time on a question you don’t know when you first encounter it on the test. This process can leave you scrambling to complete the test in the allotted time. The best process is to go through the exam once, answering the questions that are easy for you to answer, then using the remaining time to think through those that are harder.

Prepare for the Clinical Skills Portion, Too

Many test takers focus on learning and performing well on the written exam, which is important. But you also have to pass the clinical skills portion to become certified. While it may be more difficult to prepare for this part of the exam, it’s certainly not impossible. To excel in the clinical portion of the CNA exam, focus on mastering fundamental CNA skills, such as handwashing, vital sign measurement, and patient mobility assistance. If possible, practice daily activities and procedures, like patient feeding, transferring, and personal hygiene tasks. Seek opportunities to observe and assist certified CNAs, and don’t forget to prioritize safety and infection control measures in all tasks. Remember to stay calm and confident during the exam, and emphasize effective communication and empathy when interacting with patients.


1. How much does it cost to take the CNA exam?

The fees for this exam may vary from state to state, but generally speaking, test takers can expect to pay around $100.

2. When will I receive my exam results?

Each state has different timelines for when examinees receive their results. Some states allow for results to be provided immediately upon the conclusion of the test, while others may take several weeks. It is best to check with your testing site to determine when they release the scores.

3. What should I wear to the exam?

Since the CNA exam contains a clinical skills component, scrubs are a great option, but they are not required. You may be required to wear flat, non skid, closed-toe shoes though. It is best to wear something professional that will be comfortable throughout both portions of the exam.

4. If I perform poorly, can I retake the CNA exam?

Yes, most states allow examinees to retake the exam up to three times within two years of completing your CNA training courses. You will only need to retake the section that you did not pass with a score of 70% or more. If you did not meet this threshold on either section, you will be required to retake both sections.

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