Is the CNA Exam Hard?

Is the CNA Exam Hard?

Now more than ever, healthcare workers have proven their dedication is vital to our lives. Healthcare jobs are expected to add 2 million new positions over the next decade, in addition to the nearly 2 million regular openings that occur each year.

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification is one of the best ways to join the fast-growing healthcare industry. Unlike other medical jobs, it doesn’t require years of higher education. You only need the right training program and a passing score on the CNA exam.

Nursing exams are notorious for being tough. Is the CNA exam difficult too? The real answer is: it doesn’t have to be. Even simple exams can be difficult if you lack the proper preparation. If you want to learn about becoming a CNA and passing the exam with ease, this article has all the info you’ve been searching for. So read on!

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

There are many nursing levels and fields, so keeping track of all acronyms can be challenging. The general nursing levels are:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

  • Registered Nurse (RN)

  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Their required education levels are:

  • CNA: Nursing Certificate

  • LPN: Diploma in Practical Nursing

  • RN: Associate of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing

  • APRN: Relevant RN degrees and special certification exam

  • NP: Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice

CNA jobs are generally considered entry-level, although many people make their job as a CNA into a long-term career. CNAs provide valuable assistance to LPNs and RNs, just as nurses offer valuable support to doctors.

As a CNA, you’ll work directly with patients to ensure they are safe and comfortable. You’ll be an essential advocate for patients, a trusted resource for your patient’s loved ones, and a critical help to your fellow healthcare workers.

Without CNAs, patients would quickly become vulnerable in healthcare. The lack of CNAs would result in critically overworked LPNs and RNs. They wouldn’t have the crucial assistance necessary to attend to all their patients’ needs, and patient care would suffer overall.

Why Become a CNA?

You know that CNAs are important for nursing. But what can becoming a CNA do for you? CNA jobs are a great way to start in healthcare. Since you aren’t investing as much time and money, you have the freedom and flexibility for many career pathways.

Pursue Higher-Level Nursing

You can work directly in nursing before you pursue higher-level nursing careers. This means you’ll go into your education programs with actual experience and expertise.

You’ll also have a deeper empathy and understanding of your own CNAs once you become an LPN or RN. This will help you become a better healthcare leader in the future.

Pursue Other Healthcare Careers

While working in CNA jobs, you will get an idea of other healthcare jobs and their related duties. You may find you want to pursue a different healthcare career path.

You can discover you would love to be a pharmacist or anesthesiologist, for example, after seeing their jobs in action. It will also be easier to make the switch knowing firsthand what their careers are like.

Pursue Other Industries

You may even find out that healthcare jobs aren’t suitable for you. For instance, you might work at a mental health facility and decide that instead of nursing you’d like to pursue social work. As a CNA, you won’t be discouraged by needing to start a new college degree all over again.

Pursue CNA Careers

You can also find out that you love being a CNA and decide to make it your long-term career. There are many exciting and rewarding CNA careers you can choose from in hospitals, government facilities, and other medical care centers.

Basic CNA Qualifications

Many prospective nurses choose becoming a CNA as the first step in their career path. A job as a CNA is considered entry-level, so it’s the easiest and shortest certification to achieve.

Although the LPN certification is relatively short, it still takes longer than becoming CNA. Most LPN programs last at least one to two years. CNA programs, by contrast, take only a few weeks to complete.

Basic qualifications include:

  • High school or equivalent diploma

  • Successful completion of an approved training program

  • Complete the required education and training hours

  • Passing score on the certification exam

CNA programs are managed at the state level. The pathway to certification depends on the state you live in.

Alaska requires at least 140 training hours, for example, while Iowa and Nebraska only require 75. For more CNA training info by state, select your state from the list below:

Completing Your CNA Training

CNA training programs are a very practical education. You’ll learn about the human body and other medical-related knowledge, but you’ll also learn how to:

  • Observe and monitor patients

  • Recognize patient distress

  • Take vital signs

  • Assist patients with exercise, feeding, and other daily tasks

  • Move patients safely

  • Prevent infections and pathogen spreading

  • Respond to emergencies

  • Maintain a safe and clean environment

CNAs must also be top-notch communicators. If you’re socially awkward, don’t worry. Your education will include formal training in communication and interpersonal skills.

Training programs include both classroom instruction and clinical training. Some programs allow online classes, but the clinical training is hands-on and must be completed in person.

The CNA program shouldn’t be too difficult if you’re a good student. Always show up prepared and ready to learn, listen, and complete tasks and assignments on time. This will help you pass your CNA exam and also set up your success in future nursing jobs.

Is the CNA Exam Difficult to Pass?

The CNA exam is less demanding than other nursing exams, but you still shouldn’t take it for granted. The exam is divided into two main parts:

  • Written examination

  • Clinical skills test

The required passing score is usually between 70% to 80%. Your training program will have all the practical info you need about your CNA exam, including the number of questions, score minimums, and skills test set-up.

Preparing for the CNA Exam

The written exam is relatively straightforward. Despite its name, this portion is in computer format with multiple-choice questions.

All you need is an effective study plan and to observe a few simple test-taking tips. Make sure you give yourself adequate time to study. (No overnight cramming!)

There are many skill and knowledge areas you will learn, including:

The clinical skills test is scored by “checkpoints.” Your evaluator will watch you perform specific tasks or demonstrate certain skills. You must also do these correctly and use the proper procedures.

This portion will require practice as well as study. You may want to grab a CNA study group, study partner, or willing friend/family member to practice on.

Study everything thoroughly since you won’t just need it for the exam. You will also use these skills and knowledge to perform your future job duties.

Mastering the CNA Exam

Effective study means more than reading over your study material. This method is one of the least effective on its own. Passive reading only puts information in your short-term memory, where it’s quickly lost if not used. You should use different study tools to master the CNA exam. These include:

  • Study guides

  • Flashcards

  • Dynamic lessons

  • Practice tests

With these learning resources, you can commit important information to your long-term and short-term memory.

Study Guides

Study guides ensure you go over all the material without wasting time on information you don’t need. They keep your test materials organized and handy. You can also use these guides to organize study groups.


(Almost) everyone loves flashcards, as they are a quick and easy study tool with many benefits. Flashcards sharpen your retrieval practice, where you must rely on your memory alone to answer a question—this shifts info into your long-term memory storage.

Dynamic Lesson

Computer adaptive lessons use dynamic learning to make your study more effective. This includes lessons that adjust based on what you get right or wrong during practice test questions. Once you master everything, the lesson is complete.

Practice Tests

CNA practice tests help you learn what your current level of test performance is and the areas where you need improvement. They also decrease your test anxiety and increase your test speed. . ## Are You Ready to Start Your Rewarding Healthcare Career?

Becoming a CNA is a great way to get started in the healthcare industry. Once you pass a short training program and the CNA exam, you can begin working immediately. You also have the flexibility to figure out your long-term career goals.

There’s no reason to stress about the test. We have all the online resources you need to pass, so you can get started in your career as a CNA and hit the ground running. Start studying today!

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