CNA Skills Test Practice

After you complete a CNA training program, you have to sit for an exam to earn a license.

To pass this test, you need to know what you learned in the program well.

The CNA exam consists of two parts, the written part, and the clinical skill test.

You need to pass both parts with a 70-80% score or higher (depending on your state).

The written part includes a multiple-choice test and is taken electronically.

The clinical skills are evaluated by a proctor.

You will perform the tasks in front of the evaluator, ensuring to perform the critical duties of every skill correctly.

Depending on your state, the skill test may cover from three to six skills required of CNAs.

There may be fewer skills required to show your proficiency during this test.

Proctors can choose from a list of around 30 skills that a CNA should be able to demonstrate.

In some states, CNA students should also record a measurement.

The measured items can include:

  • Radial pulse.
  • Weight.
  • Respirations.
  • Urinary output.
  • Blood pressure.

The testing scenario includes actual “patients” or “client”.

So you will have to speak and interact with the subject as if they are a real patient.

Test takers should demonstrate the proper ways of washing hands.

CNAs should perform proper sanitary practices, including waste disposal.

Cleanliness is required of both the CNA and the patient.

Before getting into the skill test part, it’s essential to maintain a positive attitude.

It can be useful in the exam portion as well, you will demonstrate the examiner that the patient is in good hands.

Just like the skill set part, communication can be practiced at any time the aspiring CNA can do so.

Such skills as moving patients and placing them in the correct body position demand a good understanding by a CNA.

But they should also understand that care and kindness are essential for patients as well.

Finally, understanding what is necessary during each task without having the examiner step in can impress the observers, including the patient.

You should understand that the test is practical and proficiency is needed for a reason.

Not only will you become a better CNA, but also a safer one.

State Specific Requirements for CNAs

Remember that you need to complete a CNA program approved by the state where you plan to earn your license and work.

Every state has a list of approved CNA programs, so be sure to choose the school that is certified in your state.

Skills tested in the exam also vary by state and use different testing providers, each of them will test you on different things.

Below, here’s a list of providers and states they operate in as well as a list of skills tested by every provider.

  • Prometric: AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, HI, ID, LA, MI, NM, NY, OK, WY.
  • Headmaster: AZ, MT, ND, NH, NJ, NV, OH, OR, SD, TN, VT.
  • Pearson VUE: AL, AK, CA, CO, DC, GA, LA, MD, MN, MS, NH, NC, ND, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WY.
  • American Red Cross, approved university, or private entities: IL, IN, KY, MA, ME, UT, WV.

Pearson VUE Test For

  • Donning and removing PPE (gown and gloves).
  • Dresses the client with the affected arm.
  • Empty, measure, and record urinary output.
  • Performs a modified passive range of motion (PROM) for one knee and one ankle.
  • Performs a modified passive range of motion (PROM) for one shoulder.
  • Provides catheter care for females.
  • Provides foot care on one foot.
  • Provides perineal care (PERI-CARE) for females.
  • Applies one knee-high elastic stocking.
  • Gives a modified bed bath (face and one arm, hand, and underarm).
  • Measures and records blood pressure.
  • Measures and records the weight of ambulatory clients.
  • Assists with the use of a bedpan.
  • Cleans upper or lower denture.
  • Counts and records radial pulse.
  • Counts and records respirations.
  • Feeds client who cannot feed self.
  • Positions client on side.
  • Provides mouth care.
  • Transfers from bed to wheelchair using transfer belt.
  • Assists to ambulate using a transfer belt.
  • Hand Hygiene (Hand Washing) – required skill.

Prometric Tests For

  • Gives a partial bed bath and back rub.
  • Provide the resident with a passive range of motion (ROM) exercises to one elbow and wrist.
  • Dresses the client with the affected arm.
  • Empty, measure, and record urinary output.
  • Performs a modified passive range of motion (PROM) for one knee and one ankle.
  • Performs a modified passive range of motion (PROM) for one shoulder.
  • Provides catheter care for females.
  • Provides foot care on one foot.
  • Provides perineal care (PERI-CARE) for females.
  • Indirect Care – required skill.
  • Change bed linen while the resident remains in bed (not tested in Wyoming).
  • Provide hand and nail care.
  • Assists with the use of a bedpan.
  • Cleans upper or lower denture.
  • Counts and records radial pulse.
  • Counts and records respirations.
  • Feeds client who cannot feed self.
  • Positions client on side.
  • Provides mouth care.
  • Transfers from bed to wheelchair using transfer belt.
  • Assists to ambulate using transfer belt – required skill.
  • Hand Hygiene (Hand Washing) – required skill.

Headmaster Tests For

  • Abdominal Thrust.
  • Ambulation with cane or walker.
  • Backrub.
  • Dressing client.
  • Fluid intake.
  • Haircare.
  • Mouthcare of a comatose client.
  • Passing fresh water.
  • Range of motion exercise.
  • Transfer from wheelchair to bed using a gait belt.
  • Applies one knee-high elastic stocking.
  • Gives a modified bed bath (face and one arm, hand, and underarm).
  • Measures and records blood pressure.
  • Measures and records the weight of ambulatory clients.
  • Change bed linen while the resident remains in bed (not tested in Wyoming).
  • Provide hand and nail care.
  • Assists with the use of a bedpan.
  • Cleans upper or lower denture.
  • Counts and records radial pulse.
  • Counts and records respirations.
  • Feeds client who cannot feed self.
  • Positions client on side.
  • Provides mouth care.
  • Transfers from bed to wheelchair using transfer belt.
  • Assists to ambulate using a transfer belt.
  • Hand Hygiene (Hand Washing).

Another thing to keep in mind when you’re researching the requirements for the CNAs in your state is that not all states use the term Certified Nursing Assistant.

Some states use Nursing Aide instead, so keep that in mind if you come across this.

Once you pass the examination, you will obtain a license.

To keep it active, you need to complete a certain number of hours of continuing education every two years.

The state determines whether you need to complete these hours or not.

Also, before paying for this course, check with your employer if they offer any continuing education reimbursement.

Most employers compensate CNAs this fee after they pass the continuing ed course.

When preparing for the skill evaluation part, remember that the tests are done in a clinical setting to replicate the experience.

So, you need a strong grasp of practical skills you may have to demonstrate proficiency in.

CNA Skills You May Be Tested On

  • Hand Hygiene.
  • Recording a radial pulse.
  • Assisting with bed baths.
  • Applying knee-high elastic stockings.
  • Patient side positioning.
  • Bedpan assistance.
  • Providing mouth care.
  • Dressing clients with weak or injured arms.
  • Ambulation using a transfer belt.
  • Recording and measurement of the patient’s or client’s blood pressure, weight, and urinary output.
  • Feeding patients.
  • Denture cleaning.
  • Perineal care.
  • Counting and recording respirations.
  • Foot care.
  • Moving the patient from a wheelchair to a bed using a transfer belt.

Tips for the CNA Skills Test

We have put together some tips from people who have taken and passed the exam that might be useful to you.

  • Make sure that you have the handwashing procedure figured out to the utmost.
    If you fail this skill, you will fail the exam. Be sure to do every step in the right order and for the right duration.
  • Practice all measurements (urinary output, radial pulse, blood pressure, weight, and respiration).
  • Be sure you know the bold steps and do them properly.
    If you miss them, you will fail.
    Practice that with another person.
    Give them a step-by-step instruction for the skill and have them correct you if you make a mistake.
    You need to get to a point when you can perform that by muscle memory.
    Take notes of steps you struggle with and practice them as much as you can up to the day of your exam.
  • Almost every skill starts with introducing yourself to the patient and explaining the procedure to them.
    Almost every one finishes with making sure the signaling device is within reach and the bed in a low position.
    Also, you must wash your hands.
    If you remember this tip it will reduce the number of steps you should remember for most skills.
  • On the day of your exam, you will be given a list of skills you should demonstrate.
    Stay calm and focus on them and start going through your mental checklist before you begin.
    After you run through the list, you will be more confident when you start the examination.
  • If you are unfamiliar with some equipment that you didn’t have much access to before to practice with them, make sure to ask questions before the test begins.
    You aren’t allowed to ask questions after the test starts.

You will be able to prepare for the test during the on-the-job training.

Even with the exposure to the potential test requirements, future CNAs should be able to practice skills outside the clinic before performing them in front of the examiner.

The skills CNAs should demonstrate are not only for passing the examination but to provide the proper care for patients.

So, applicants for the certification should do their homework properly before taking the task.

Many people find it useful to create their own CNA skills study guide.

You should be able to memorize and perform the steps of every skill.

So, an effective way is to create flashcards with every step of each skill.

Another good way to memorize the skills is by watching CNA test skills videos.

It’s a good idea to practice some critical skills you will need to know.

You can practice with friends or family to get comfortable performing tasks on the client.

Make a checklist and give it to your friend or family member before you start.

List every required step for a certain skill so they can let you know if you missed anything.

Practice at home, school, work, etc.

These skills should become second nature to you before you take the exam.

Your priority should be attention to the patient, their needs, safety, and rights.

In the exam, proctors will be watching if you are attentive to your patients.

You need as much hands-on practice as you can get.

So you can consider volunteering in some facility.

Contact the CNA training instructor to see if they will let you spend more time in a practice room.

Some Red Cross locations also offer practice testing materials.

CNA Skills Test FAQ

While practicing their skills before the test, CNAs usually have a lot of questions.

We have provided the answers to the most common here.

Is the CNA skills test hard?

A lot of people fail the skill test on the first attempt.

To be fair, it’s not easy.

So, most people find it easier after getting more comfortable with the format of the exam and overcoming their nerves.

If you do some research, you’ll see that many CNAs used the first failure to help them succeed next time.

How many times can you take the CNA skills test?

Since the exam is difficult and many fail it on the first try, it is allowed to retake it three times within two years after finishing your CNA training.

How long does the CNA skills test take?

The skill test takes from 25 to 30 minutes depending on the provider.

You are usually asked to perform five skills during this time.

What score is needed to pass the CNA skills test?

The passing score of the skill test is between 70% and 80%, depending on the state and the provider that administers the test.

How is the CNA skills test graded?

As you demonstrate every skill the proctor runs through a checklist for each, making notes of any deficiencies you have for the skill.

A passing score is 70-80% depending on your state.

Not all the elements are graded equally.

Some steps (a.k.a. bold steps) are critical for passing a certain skill.


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