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Once you’ve completed your CNA training program, the real fun begins. In order to start work as a CNA within a health care facility, you must first sit for and pass a two-part certification examination. The two primary exam modules include a theoretical/written exam and a clinical/hands-on exam. While each of these modules are designed to fully delve into the knowledge base of aspiring CNAs, the process of taking and passing each portion is vastly different. If you’re almost done with your CNA training program, or if you’re interested in learning more about the requirements of becoming a CNA, then you’ll want to continue reading this informative article. Of course, you may obtain state-specific examination information by contacting your State Board of Nursing, who oversees the training and certification of CNAs.

Written Examination Information

Did you know that far more people fail the written portion of an examination than the clinical portion? The reason for this may be because test taking is a skill learned, not a natural skill, and physically demonstrating your knowledge is far easier than passing a written test (see here). Regardless, if you wish to work as a CNA, you must successfully pass the conceptual knowledge portion of the exam.

While the exact elements covered within the written examination can vary from state-to-state, there are several universal tips that apply for any exam within the United States.

Multiple Choice – The written examination is completed by answering questions in a multiple choice fashion. The exam presents a particular scenario, and the test taker must select the appropriate answer out of several possibilities. If you aren’t familiar with multiple choice exams or you wish to strengthen your test taking abilities, then you should complete several multiple choice practice exams. Typically, the written examination consists of 70 questions that cover three primary topics, which are discussed below.
Physical Care Skill Portion – This portion of the written examination covers three primary sub-topics within the realm of caring for patients. These topics may include: Activities of Daily Living, such as dressing and grooming; hygiene; waste elimination; nutrition and hydration; and, rest/comfort topics. The next portion typically covers basic nursing skills, such as: infection control; therapeutic procedures; data collection; reporting procedures; and, safety/emergency protocols. The last topic of this portion tends to cover restorative skills, such as: self-care topics and prevention skills.
Psychosocial Care Skill Portion – This portion of the written examination generally covers two primary topics, which include: Emotional and mental health needs of a patient; spiritual and cultural needs of a patient.
Role of a CNA – This portion covers topics that ensure aspiring CNAs fully understand their roles and responsibilities within the nursing process. Generally, this exam portion covers four primary topics, which include: communication; client/patient rights; ethical and legal behaviors; and the role of a CNA within the entire health care team.

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