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Tips to Ace the CNA Exam

Posted on | August 9, 2011 | Comments Off

CNA examination is the last hurdle nursing assistant students must overcome to become certified and start their new careers.  The exam consists of two parts, written and clinical abilities.  Most students are especially anxious about the clinical component in which they will be judged based on their performance in numerous clinical settings.

As with any test, having a little anxiety can be to your advantage, because it actually allows you to focus on the subject.  However, having too much anxiety may prove to be disastrous in consequences as it will prevent you from thinking clearly, your behavior will be far from professional and your general appearance will suffer as a result.  It is not advised to take any calming or anxiolytic medications prior to your test.  While they may seem to help calm you down, they will also diminish the performance of your brain and ultimately lead to a lower test score.

Writing Component

Generally considered by students as the easier part of the exam.  It causes less anxiety for students before the exam and is regarded as the less difficult part by those who have already taken the test.

A few tips to ace the written part of the CNA exam

  • Take time to study your notes and textbook from your CNA class
  • Work hard during your CNA class, take the test no later than 3 weeks after class ends
  • During the time of your CNA class and after it ends, do at least 300 practice questions.  Go back to the questions you’ve answered wrong, read the explanations, this is where you really build your knowledge.  Many students find it difficult to be going over questions they’ve answered incorrectly, because it tends to make us feel down.  But, going over your incorrect answers is one of the most powerful ways of studying.  The more practice questions you do, the better.

Clinical Skills

Clinical abilities part of the CNA exam causes students the most anxiety.  In part this is due to a proctor looking at you directly and judging your actions, and in part due to the fact that such testing of live skills is something that most students have not done before.  Everyone has taken a written multiple choice exam in the life, but being tested on your actions live is not something that is commonly seen in most examinations.

Tips to ace the clinical skills component

  • Study your class notes
  • Find a friend or a family member to play your “patient” and practice the various techniques and maneuvers many times on multiple days.  It is not advisable to practice your clinical skills on one day or two consecutive days only.  You must practice them on multiple days.
  • Know especially well the following: proper hand washing, taking blood pressure measurement, measuring respiratory rate, temperature measurement, proper techniques of moving your patient.

As with all tests, good preparation goes a long way.  Plan your preparation by creating a calendar-based study guide with each day having specific tasks that you must accomplish.  For every 7 days include one day of rest.  Rest in such cases will not be a waste of time, it will work to your advantage.

Good luck!

Other topics of interest

How long do CNA classes take?

Accelerated CNA classes

American Red Cross CNA classes

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State-specific resources



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