There are several high-quality videos around the web that cover the various skills that a CNA must master to pass the clinical portion of the CNA exam. Using these videos can provide a tangible demonstration of the skills and patient interactions needed to be an effective Certified Nursing Assistant.
CNA Skills Test Overview
To become a CNA two of the biggest obstacles you’ll have to overcome are the written test and the clinical skills test. Fortunately, there are an almost endless amount of resources to assist you with the written portion of the test like our free CNA practice tests.
Demonstrating skills in the clinical skills test is the more nerve-wracking portion of the test for most aspiring CNAs. You should learn all the skills you need during your CNA classes, but to stay sharp you’ll want to be able to review the correct procedures for patient care over and over again. Thankfully, with the power of YouTube you can view high-quality instructional videos on all the direct and indirect care skills you’ll need to demonstrate to pass the clinical exam.
If you’re about to take the test for the first time, we recommend you watch our quick video below which provides tips for succeeding on the CNA skills exam.
The CNA skills test covers a battery of different tasks that you’ll need to know like the back of your hand if you want to pass the test. The skills test can include any of the following areas:
Apply one knee-high elastic stocking
Assist to ambulate using a transfer belt
Cleaning upper or lower dentures
Count and record radial pulse
Count and record respirations
Donning and removing PPE (a.k.a. gown and gloves)
Dress client with affected right arm
Feeding the client
Give modified bed bath
Measuring and recording urinary output
Weighing an ambulatory client
Passive range of motion for one knee and one ankle
Passive range of motion for one shoulder
Position client on side
Catheter care for female
Provide perineal care for female
Transfer from bed to wheelchair using transfer belt
Assist resident needing to use a bedpan
Change bed linen while client remains in bed
Hand and nail care
Passive range of motion to one elbow and wrist
How to Study for the CNA Skills Test
Proper preparation for the test will help you gain confidence and increase your chances of passing the test on the first try. Here are some pointers to help you do your best:
- Watch a lot of CNA skills test videos. We’ve put together an exhaustive collection of them on this page, but if you go to YouTube you can search for “CNA Skills” plus whichever specific skill you’re interested in preparing for and find multiple different videos for each skill for you to study. Many of the providers of these videos have their own websites, you can find a list of some of the top skills test video providers at the bottom of this page.
- Practice on and with classmates. Particularly if your testing provider uses an actor during the test it’s important to become comfortable practicing on another human being. And who better to critique your skills than someone from your class who is drilling all of these techniques as well? Working in a group gives everyone an opportunity to take turns as the subject, the CNA and the observer who can provide feedback as you practice.
- Good old-fashioned flash cards. Print up flash cards with the steps for each skill and drill them on your own or with a friend or classmate until they become second nature.
Know the Skills for Your State
The content of the skills test can vary slightly depending on the state that you’re in. However, each state includes hand washing as a skill, so it’s absolutely necessary that you master that skill. Additionally, recording measurements like blood pressure, respiration, radial pulse, and urine output are nearly universal and should be practiced until you are completely confident in your ability to perform each. Lastly, being able to demonstrate an understanding of indirect care (i.e. the is another expected skill in basically every state. Understanding residents’ rights and infection control tend to be the most important topics tested as far as indirect care skills.
It’s important to note that different states use different testing providers, and some use more than one, so you’ll want to review the guidelines provided by your CNA program and their testing provider to make sure the skills you’re studying and practicing align perfectly with your state’s requirements. The three main testing providers are Prometric, Headmaster and Pearson Vue. Seven states fall outside of these three main providers and utilize universities, private providers or the American Red Cross to administer the skills examination.
The state by state breakdown is as follows:
|Headmaster||Pearson VUE||Prometric||Red Cross, University or Private|
|New Jersey||Washington DC||Florida||Maine|
|South Dakota||Minnesota||New Mexico|
More Provider Specific Information
The major providers publish materials to help you practice for the skills test and understand their expectations for what you’ll need to demonstrate to pass the test.
- Pearson Vue – their state by state Nurse Aide links include a candidate handbook for each state which lists a “Skills Evaluation” section that will provide you their requirements for that portion of the test. Click the link and select your state to find a downloadable PDF file of the candidate handbook
- Prometric – offers a printable checklist with step by step detail of each of the 22 skills they may evaluate.
- Headmaster – provides a candidate handbook similar to Pearson Vue, just go to their website and select your state under the “Nurse Aide” section on the home page and then find the most current year’s candidate handbook under the “Candidate Forms” section.
For in depth detail about the testing requirements for each state, follow this link. Select your state to learn the specifics for your state’s exams. There you can find up to date information on the time allotted for your test, whether you’ll be demonstrating your skills on a live patient or a dummy and much more.
How to Pass the CNA Skills Exam
If you’ve done all of the preparation leading up to the exam it’s important to not make any mistakes on the day of the exam. You’re likely to have some nerves, so make a checklist in advance that you can run through the night before your exam to make certain you’ve got everything order. This should include:
- Appearance. You’ll want to dress and prepare yourself as you would for your first day on the job. This means wearing appropriate clinical shoes with nonskid soles and a short-sleeved scrub uniform. Make sure you’ve taken care of your hands, trimmed your nails, and have longer hair in an appropriate hairdo such as a ponytail.
- Wear a watch. Don’t forget to wear a watch with a second hand as some skills will require this.
- Have all necessary identification and supplies. Make a list of all of the required items you’ll need for the day from personal identification to pencils.
- Travel planning. Plan your trip in the morning so that you arrive at least 20 minutes before the test begins so you don’t create unnecessary stress rushing into the exam. Leave nothing to chance. Print out directions to the testing location and leave early to allow for any traffic issues. Be sure to understand your parking options and have a backup plan if that falls through.
Once the test begins, if your nerves kick in, here are a few tips to help get you to the finish line:
- Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. While it would be nice to get a perfect score, very few people do. The goal is to pass. So if you make one mistake early on, don’t let it derail your focus.
- Verbalize your actions. If you’ve done a lot of drilling with flash cards, you’re probably used to reciting the steps of each skill. If this helps you remember the steps, feel free to say them out loud to talk yourself through each step.
- Acknowledge mistakes during the test. Once you’ve completed a skill there’s no going back, but if you’re in the middle of performing a skill you can point it out to the evaluator, go back to the step and continue.
More than anything, if you put the time and effort into your preparations you’ll show up with the confidence you need to meet your goals and change your life. So, make sure you put the time in up front and you’ll reap the rewards.
Additional CNA Skills Test Video Websites
4YourCNA has a good compilation of videos on all aspects of the hands-on CNA skills test. Videos range in Handwashing to Feeding a Patient in a Chair to assisting a Resident With a Bedpan. These videos are quite thorough and provide a large checklist for the CNA candidate to review in relation to how the skills are performed and evaluated in a skills test setting. Their videos make good use of graphics to help document everything that you’re watching.
California CNA Tests – Santa Barbara City College
The Santa Barbara City College has produced a series of CNA skills test videos that can also be valuable for brushing up before the skills test. Each video covers various aspects of critical CNA skills. While the emphasis in the videos is based on California procedures and testing, the basic skills demonstrated are applicable across all states. There are 25 videos in total. They range in topic area from wheelchair processes, mouth care, shoulder work, blood pressure checks and patient feeding. The videos are fairly thorough and do a very nice job of walking through the various CNA procedures in detail. In each video, the CNA trainer talks through each of the required steps. Additionally, the video has accompanying text graphics that highlight key points of the procedures, such as in the blood pressure video “Inflate to 160mm”. Finally, each video has two sections, one with narration and one without, which gives more of a real-life patient scenario.
SacMed Training Video Tutorials
This comprehensive CNA skill video collection covers 19 topics, including hand washing, hygiene procedures, feeding patients, and making an occupied bed. The videos are thorough and have good video and audio quality. There are also helpful narrative titles and checklists that help guide the viewer through the video topic. The checklists are especially helpful for those studying and looking for last minute reminders prior to taking a clinical exam.
Perfect CNA Training Academy
This CNA skills video is put on by the Perfect CNA Training Academy. The video demonstrates various skills such as Blood Pressure, Pulse and Respiration, Weight, and Feeding. The video has a CNA performing different skills on a patient, talking through the points of emphasis in the skill. This video does not have as much in the way of graphics or text callouts.