12 Tips to Pass the CNA Test

Yes, the test for your certified nurse assistant certification is going to be the first big step in your career. It wouldn’t be surprising to find a student feeling anxious about the exam.

The test comes in two parts. There is the written section and the CNA skills test with the latter a challenging review of your ability to demonstrate nursing skills in front of a state-appointed administrator. To say it can be a stressful situation for some would be an understatement.

What follows are an even dozen top tips for preparing for your CNA test review and study sessions. We’re talking about far more than study. There is mental and physical prep anyone can do to relax and improve confidence.

    1. Know your skill set and strive to perform with knowledge and expertise. Use family, friends, a doll and, even better, fellow students to practice with and on. Talk with your instructor when you have queries or issues. If you are struggling, ask for help or clarification.
    2. Beforehand, take as many practice tests as you can stand. They will give you a foundation of what to expect and how to prepare. A number of schools have practice tests or you can ask your instructor about them. There are also plenty of prep tests you can find on the web.
    3. One good step for mental preparation is getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep will help you relax and sharpen your thinking. Lack of sleep can stress the nerves, lead to poor recall, induce irritability and encourage clumsiness. None of these traits will increase your chances of doing well.
    4. Have a nice meal beforehand. Do some last minute study while you eat, watch a little television or read a magazine, but eat. Hungry promotes the same disadvantages as lack of sleep. Hunger is also distracting, preventing much needed focus. Take in a meal that’s not too heavy, but filling. Drink fluids to stay hydrated and avoid caffeinated drinks which can make you jittery and anxious.
    5. Being on time is going to be one of the most important things you can do to relax and boost confidence. You want to avoid a last minute rush that can increase your adrenaline, sweating and other anxieties that will prevent your keeping a clear head. You do not want to be too early and get anxious while waiting. Ten minutes is fine. And forget about being late. An administrator will not like being kept waiting.
    6. Before going into the exam and before taking the written test or performing any task, breathe. Five to 10 cleansing breaths will release lactic acid and carbon monoxide. It will increase blood flow and heighten oxygen intake. Finally, the practice will lower the pulse and respiration, calming you.
    7. If you get stuck during the written test, use ethics and common sense to tackle the problem. A nurse assistant’s job is to make processes easier and better for everyone. Carefully read through the choices and determine which answer accomplishes that task best.
    8. During the skills portion, wash your hands before and after every task. While it may not be necessary in a test environment, doing so shows you understand the importance of sanitation and infection control. Get the wrong test administrator and you could fail.
    9. It is not unusual for students to lose points for showing a lack of professionalism or, in a better term, bedside manner. Regardless of what skill you are about to demonstrate, introduce yourself and describe what you are doing and why. If you’re working with a person or mannequin, talk to them. Otherwise, talk to the administrator.
    10. If you make a mistake and are aware of it, stop and say so. Admit to it, explain what the mistake was and how it should have been done. Your honesty and knowledge could win back points lost for the gaffe.
    11. During the skills test, it might be helpful if you verbalize each step as if you are talking to a patient. If there is no patient, speak to the administrator. This sounds like you are easing the patient through the process. Speaking to yourself implies you are reminding yourself what to do. Get into the habit while studying and practicing and you develop a routine and script that reinforces the idea you will not forget even the small details.
    12. Be confident and visualize your success during your CNA test review sessions and during the test. You should be aware of your skill set and how well you are going to do. If you cannot see this, you are probably not ready to the CNA test. This attitude will be completely dependent on your focus during instruction, your study and preparation, and if you have the good sense to seek help as needed. Do not assume any small detail of the CNA skills test or written test is unimportant. It’s all important.