Ultimate Guide to CNA Skills Test: Tips, Tricks & More

A nursing assistant must take care of their patients physically & emotionally. That is why they has to develop their skills in a proper and effective manner so that they can serve the patients.

However, CNAs has to understand and assist the patients with their daily routine and support them emotionally.

All these skills are a part of the CNA training, but they often take time to develop and practice to hone.

What is CNA Skills Test?

CNA skills test is one of the two papers that to have to pass to clear the certification exam; the other being the theoretical paper.

While you are in CNA training you are taught a number of clinical abilities that are necessary to perform as a nursing assistant when you take up professional practice so these tasks are put to test during the CNA skills exam.

Before taking the exam make sure you have practiced all the craft to the extent of perfecting them so that you will be at ease during the test.

The test is conducted under the supervision of the state examiner and he will randomly pick three to five tasks for you to perform.

And you are not allowed to slip up in any of the procedures as the examiner will monitor them carefully; he may give you a hint or two as he understands your apprehension.

CNA Skills Training

If you have to get the certification to work as a nurse aide you must make sure that you get proper CNA skills training which can be ensured by ensured by enrolling in a state accredited CNA program.

A program consists of both classroom and hands-on experience; the hours for each of them are specified by your state health department.

But a good program will have more training hours than those made mandatory by the state, especially for the hands-on experience as the nursing assistant’s job is more of a practical oriented one and even though theoretical knowledge is important, hands-on experience is even more essential.

For the CNA certification exam you have to pass both the papers, but clearing the theoretical paper is relatively easy as you can study all the study material, memorize it and pass the paper.

When it comes to the skills paper, you have to perform the hand-on skills learnt during the program in front of a state RN examiner which can be nerve wracking if you are not well prepared.

Many people even before getting certified are worried about the salary a CNA can earn; it’s true that a nurse aide cannot earn extravagant salaries like other profession but it is enough to support your higher education if you are not looking to make a living out of it.

And if you have developed good skills you can look forward to a nice nursing career.

Time Management During the Exam

During your practical exam it is important that you manage your time efficiently so that you can finish the tasks within the stipulated duration which is from 20 to 30 minutes depending on your state’s regulation.

If you cannot finish it in that duration you cannot pass the test; but in hindsight the period given is enough to complete your CNA testing.

And time management is possible only if you have practiced all your tasks keeping it in mind as each task will require a specific duration, so put this to practice and you will be all right.

Here is how you can manage you time for some of the important tasks:

  • Hand washing with all the proper techniques will need one minute to complete the task. Remember that you will have to do this task before and after every other task.
  • Blood Pressure measurement and recording will take around two minutes
  • Respiration and pulse measurement will take four to five minutes
  • Urine output will consume two minutes maximum
  • Changing patient’s position in bed will need two minutes
  • Transfer from bed to wheelchair/ stretcher shall take up to five minutes
  • Some tasks take longer. Tasks like provide bedpans, making occupied beds or giving modified baths will require more minutes; practice these tasks and once you are comfortable clock yourself. Ideally you should take seven to eight minutes for these kind of tasks

Make a note of these timings and try to finish the tasks in the times required during your practice.

During the exam you may be asked to perform a maximum of two tasks that will require longer period which may take about 10 to 12 minutes to complete and you will still have around 20 minutes to finish the less time consuming tasks; you will complete all the tasks within stipulated duration, maybe you will have a couple of minutes to spare.

Some Tips for Taking the CNA Skills Test

If you want to become a certified nursing assistant you must acquire certain CNA test skills because you have to pass the state certification exam.

To get certified you have to pass both the papers; the theory paper and the practical paper. It is essential that you are well prepared for the exam so that you time and energy is not wasted in taking retests and you pass the exam in the first attempt.

It has often been noticed that it is the practical test that students find harder to pass and because of this many students have started taking CNA skills practice test to polish their clinical abilities and taking these tests is a time consuming task.

Students find the theory paper comparatively easier as they have all the study material available; but it is important that you don’t get too complacent about the theory portion and put in the required hours of study so that you can easily pass the paper.

Below are some CNA test skills which will ensure that you pass both the papers and get certified.

1. Tips for the theory paper

The theory paper consists of 70 to 100 multiple choice questions, depending upon the requirements of your specific state. The minimum passing percentage for this paper is 75%; in some states it is 80%.

The time duration for the written paper is two hours within which you have to answer all the questions which is good enough for anyone. The test these days is conducted online and the company which has developed this online test is Prometric Services.

To prepare for the written test you must study all the material provided by your training institute covering subjects like

  • Therapy procedures
  • Infection control
  • Hygiene
  • Nutrition
  • Medical terminology
  • Resident rights etc.

it is necessary that you study all the material as it would be provided as per the requirements of the state exam.

Check online for any additional study material; ample help is available on the internet which can be very useful to you.

Check the sample questions of the CNA written test as they can make a huge difference to your preparation.

These are set of questions which cover all the topics required to pass the written test; you may find these sample questions on the internet or in the various study guides that are available in the market.

You can also take the practice tests to prepare you for test scenario where you have to follow the obligations of time.

One more step in preparation for the written paper is to study ahead of time; this will land you in good stead. The written test is indeed very easy, but preparation still is the key for your success.

2. CNA Skills Test Help

Most students look for CNA skills test help as they are very nervous about this paper. The anxiousness is more because they have to perform three to five tasks in the stipulated time (usually 25 to 30 minutes) and that too in front of the state examiner.

But for the record, most students do pass the CNA practical test in the first attempt; all you have to do is be well prepared with all the required tasks.

3. Don’t Panic

It is true that you have to perform all the tasks in front of a state examiner, but it is no reason to panic. He/ she is a human being; a experienced one and must have conducted such test number of times and is aware of your anxiety, so the examiner will surely be a bit lenient.

4. Don’t Rush

Listen to the examiner carefully before starting out. It is important that you maintain your calmness while performing any task, don’t rush just because you have limited duration to complete the task because if you rush you may miss out on the minutest details of the procedure.

5. Don’t Miss Classes

While you are involved in the training make sure that you do not miss any clinical classes as they are the best chance to master your abilities. You can try it again and again in front of your instructor and he will clear your doubts and notify your mistakes right there.

There are many online videos that you can refer to and a lot of study guides to refer to, but no practice is better than hand-on experience, so attend the classes regularly

6. Follow The Etiquette

While in the exam hall you must follow certain mannerism carefully; it demonstrates your professionalism. Knock the door and ask for permission before entering any room. Greet the patients and introduce yourself; explain the process before starting the task.

The person in place of the patient may be a fellow student but follow all the procedure as you would do while assisting a patient. Don’t miss out on anything including the safety parameters

7. Get a Candidate Handbook

Every state has different norms regarding the certification test so it is important that you are well aware of the rules of your state. The CNA test booklet will be helpful to you in this regards.

This booklet will have all the information about the state examination, skills that come under the duties of a nurse aide, procedure and sample questions for your written exam. Follow all the guidelines in the handbook and you will fare well not just in the clinical skills test, but also in the written paper.

You don’t have to be afraid of the examiner because he/ she must have conducted these tests umpteen number of times and will understand your predicament, so you will surely get some leverage from the examiner during the exam.

He/ she may neglect one or two slip-ups from your side if you later on bring to his notice about it. The examiner will be satisfied that you aware about the procedures even if you make a mistake.

You must be calm during the exam and listen carefully to all the instructions given by the examiner before you start any task, this will avoid confusion and with clarity you will be able to exceed your expectations.

Follow all the Modus operandi that was taught during the clinical training classes, follow the best procedures for each process, greet the patient and explain the task you are going to perform.

Before the exam you must follow certain path, make a plan and execute it to make the task simpler for you. Attend all the clinical skills classes and practice the tasks step by step in front of the instructor who will correct you on the spot.

Take as many CNA skills test practice as possible and that too by thinking that every test is as good as the actual test.

Two skills are almost mandatory in all the states and are asked to perform during the test; hand washing technique and taking vital signs. You should master these tasks by thorough practice and research for the other favorite tasks of you state examination body.

Practice those tests hard and time yourself on all the skills you perform as you will have limited time at hand during the practical exam and you will have to manage your time.

Passing the CNA exam requires a bit of hard work and focus and you will be able to pass the certification test comfortably. The CNA test skills are guidelines for you to follow so that you can not only pass the practical paper but also the written exam; once you get certified it will prove to be a stepping stone for a rewarding nursing career.

Practice Hard Before The CNA Skills Exam

As we all know that if you want to perfect any skills, practice is the only option; we see many athletes or musicians who perform their tasks with utmost ease but what we don’t realize is the hours of practice that they have put behind it.

So if you want to perform your CNA skills with ease then you need to practice, the more the merrier.

Take as many CNA skills practice tests as you can, at least three are recommended by most experts; one at home, one in front of your instructor and after his evaluation check for your shortcomings by another test.

Many may argue that this is too much preparation, but what is wrong in going the extra mile when a certification and job is at stake.

There are many skills videos available on the internet, which are performed by trained nursing Practitioners and these videos have complete explanation of all the procedures of every skill; watch them carefully and make changes to your procedures if necessary.

For those who have enrolled in online training programs and have less scope of getting exposed to the clinical lab, the online videos as especially essential. Such students can watch the online videos and practice the skills at home as and when they can.

Some Important CNA Skills

During the skills paper you have to perform three to five skills in front of the examiner depending on the requirements of your state apart from performing the hand washing techniques and taking vital records; these two skills are asked to perform in skills exam of all states as they are considered to be vital skills for a CNA

Some other popular skills are infection control, patient transfer with or without belts, providing bedpans, oral care, changing bed positions of patients, helping patients in motion exercises and changing bed of occupied beds.

You may even have to perform skills that provide for hygienic surroundings and light housekeeping.

Good communication and inter-personal skills are also required so that you can explain the procedures to the patients and educate patients and their close ones about the healthcare measures necessary.

Keep a check list of all these skills ready and practice these skills thoroughly. Without hard work and practice the CNA skills training are inefficient for you to pass the clinical skills exam and get certification.

CNA skills testing is not as difficult as it is made out to be if you are well prepared and you don’t make a mountain out of a molehill, just relax and you will ease through both the papers and become a certified nursing assistant.

Additional CNA Skills

Listed below are some of the additional skills that a certified nursing aide should possess, as it helps in handling the patients in an effective manner.

1. Understand Body Mechanism

It is important to understand the body mechanics of the patient in order to properly take care of the patient.

2. Observation

This is one of the important skills that every nursing aide need to possess, as it will help to keep a track of the progress of the patient.

3. Follow the Procedure

A certified nursing aide need to follow the protocol and the policy of the organization strictly. They should be dedicated towards their work and should be adaptable to any given situation.

4. Critical Assessment

Along with awareness, it is necessary for nursing aide should possess the ability to think in a positive manner. This is a series of connections as the better thinker, decision-maker, and team player. This series is put together to know about the patient’s condition from reports, documentation, and other observations.

5. Communication

Communication is one of the basic and most important skill that every nursing aide must possess. The Patient Care Technician has to communicate with registered nurse, doctors and importantly with patient. Conversation can be in the form of written documentation, or verbal communication.

6. Personal Fitness

A nursing aide has to be physically fit in order to perform various physical tasks to help the patients in performing their activities.

7. Compassion Toward Profession

Nursing assistant should be a loving and caring person, as it is need of this profession. Sometimes patients need to be dealt on an extremely personal level during the treatment process.

8. Unprejudiced

In this profession, nursing auxiliary takes care for people from different backgrounds, races as well as cultures. Therefore, CNAs should not show their dislikes to the patients.

9. Personality

A CNA should possess a pleasant personality, which will help the patient to built trust.

10. Good in Practical Work

Certified nursing aide need to be prepared to perform form menial tasks.

11. Efficiency

Nursing aide need to be very efficient in responding to the need of the patients, as this profession deal with patients life and care.

12. Accuracy

Certified nursing assistant needs to be very particular and systematic about their work, as the life of patient is in their hands, even a small mistake may cause harm to patient’s life.

Different Options to Learn CNA Skills

CNA ability check is an essential step you must take before attempting the certification exam and particularly the CNA clinical skills test as it will give you an evaluation of your preparedness for the practical test. You have many options to carry out this reassessment and you may choose the one that suits you the best.

CNA skills review is also done by practicing nurse aides at regular intervals in their career to keep themselves updated with the best information of patient care. Some of the options that you can choose from for CNA nursing abilities cross check are as follows:

1. CNA Skills Practice by Approved Training Program

After you are done with your CNA training program you can take CNA skills practice tests to reassessment of the tasks you learnt during the training.

Many of the training programs make it compulsory for the students to take these practice tests for better preparation for the exam. To take practice tests you can ask a co-student to help you; he/ she can act as a patient and you will practice your craft.

Such a person can correct you if you are following a wrong procedure while performing a task. Take help of a third person who will check through the list of tasks you must have made during your training and will evaluate your craft based on the checklist.

You can follow the same procedure while the co-student takes his/ her practice.If possible take a practice test in front of your clinical skills instructor as he/ she will be the best person possible to evaluate your abilities; check for his/ her time and schedule your practice tests accordingly.

Remember that you will have to perform the clinical tasks in front of a state examiner, so performing you craft in front of your instructor will prepare you in a better way and you will have more confidence.

2. CNA Skills Review Courses

Many training schools conduct CNA skills review courses after the mandatory training is over and you can enroll into one such program to cross check your skills; this is a professional way of carrying out the reassessment. A professional course will provide for checks at regular intervals, structured guidance and feedback on the progress you are making, so such courses are worth the investment.

These review classes are of very short duration; two to four days and the courses are structured based on the frequently asked tasks during a CNA clinical paper and are conducted by experienced instructors for a thorough assessment of your abilities.

A nurse aide’s job is not just about physical needs of the patients; you should also be compassionate and empathetic to provide comfortable assistance to the patients.

These reassessment classes help you understand the job responsibilities in a better manner so that you can perform your duties to the best of your abilities. CNA certification exams differ from state to state and if you need to change your job location and start practice in a different state, you will have to clear the exam conducted by that state.

These CNA reassessment courses will assist you in understanding about the state exams and you can then pass the certification exam.

3. Videos and Study Guides

The internet has made a revolution in online education and if you are confident that you can pass the exam without the review courses, it could be a great source for learning.

Many videos on various CNA skills are available on the internet, which are performed by experts and you can refer to them to assess your skills.

CNA clinical skills study guide is another resource that can be helpful to you in reexamining your abilities. Many such guides are available and you can research and get the study guide that suits your needs.

These study guides are a written form of the concepts and tasks of CNAs and study tools and practice tests are included. You can buy your study guide or watch the numerous videos to cross check your CNA abilities and then take the practice tests for preparation.

4. Other CNA Review Programs

Other CNA skills review programs are for those who are looking to work in a specific setting like in a metal department of a hospital or a pediatric care center or if you will be assisting terminally ill patients suffering from cancer like diseases or HIV/ Aids patients in a long term care facility.

All these settings require different abilities and the reassessment program for these duties will be ideal for you to gain the required skills.

Specialization and continuing education can help you in fetching higher salaries so it will be an advantage if you take up these courses, but make sure that you want to work in these special settings as the job can be more strenuous as compared to working in normal settings.

Some states have made it mandatory that licensed CNAs should take refresher exams every two years to keep them updated with the new techniques emerging; if the CNA has not completed the refresher programs then the license renewal is denied in these states. Some practicing nursing assistants take initiative and join such programs to reassessment their abilities.

CNA is a hands-on profession, so periodic CNA skills review is necessary to put in best practices and is a very good tool to reassessment your craft for the clinical paper and pass it along with the theory paper and get certified.

Why CNA Skills Test is So Important?

CNA performs their duties as a part of a health care team and expected to carry out tasks such as

  • Understand the importance of verbal and non verbal communication
  • Understand the resident’s right
  • Know the responsibility towards the patient
  • Personal and Patient Safety
  • Maintain cleanliness

Other nursing duties are catheter care, skin care, dental care, dressing and undressing of wounds, providing bed pan and urinal, apply elastic stockings, prepare bed, serve meal trays and understand the purpose of modified diets, feeding if necessary, and assist patients to washroom.

The certified nursing assistant needs to possess skills to take proper care of the patient and perform the basic medical procedures efficiently. A CNA need to develop a cherished and strong relationships with the patient by providing mental and emotional support.

The personnel duties includes giving sponge bath, trimming nails, combing hair, changing cloths, shaving, and the toilet needs. An assistant has to perform these sensitive duties in a very formal and caring manner in order to prevent the patient from embarrassment. The relationship of the patient and the CNA is completely based on trust. All these come under skills.


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