In every state, aspiring CNAs must pass an exam as a part of their process to becoming a CNA and obtaining a CNA license with their state’s registry. CNA exam structure can vary from state to state, as does how the exam is administered. Some states administer CNA tests on their own, some employ third-party providers like Prometric, Headmaster, or Pearson Vue.
The exam is typically broken up into two main parts around the roles and responsibilities of a CNA. The two parts are the CNA skills test and the written knowledge exam. The CNA skills test is a demonstration test where candidates practice CNA skills on either a dummy or an actual stand-in human. The written exam is a multiple-choice exam that will feature questions broken up across the various sections from individual CNA practice areas.
Depending on the exam provider, the CNA skills test will feature areas such as:
- Hand Washing
- Recording Weight
- Recording Blood Pressure
- Clean Dentures
- Replacing a Bed Plan
- Performing Passive Range of Motion for Client’s Arm or Shoulder
- Provide Mouth Care
- Provide Hair and Nail Care
- Counts and Records Respirations
- Assists to Ambulate Using Transfer Belt
- Applies One Knee-high Elastic Stocking
Of all of these skills, generally, all of the test providers will have the candidate demonstrate 5 of the skills successfully in a given time period. The CNA skills test is graded on if candidates can properly perform the five presented tasks.
The CNA written knowledge exam will cover the nine main practice areas generally such as:
- Basic Nursing Skills
- Activities of Daily Health
- Member of the Healthcare Team
- Restorative Skills
- Client Rights
- Spiritual and Cultural Needs
- Emotional and Mental Health Needs
- Legal and Ethical Need
The questions are formatted as multiple-choice questions throughout the exam.
How is the CNA skills test graded?
Your evaluator will provide you a grade based on your performance during the selected list of skills. As you demonstrate each skill, the nurse aide evaluator will review the checklist for each skill and record any deficiencies you may have. Certain steps, known as the “bold steps” are more heavily weighted as a part of your score as these are seen as the most critical element of that skill. Much like the written exam, you’ll need to score at least 70% in each section to receive a passing score.
What score do you need to pass the CNA exam?
Unfortunately, there’s no single answer to the question, “What is the passing score for the CNA exam?” The truth is, it varies from state to state, but typically you’ll need 70-80% correct to get a CNA passing score in your state. You’ll want to check your CNA training provider’s website or call your state’s CNA registry to get an exact number.