CNA Exam Prep: 14 Tips So You Pass The First Time
Certified Nursing Aide (CNA) certification is important because it shows you have the knowledge needed to care for patients properly. Many employers require a CNA certificate as a condition of employment. Still, even if it’s not a stated requirement in a job posting, the hiring personnel often give preference to certified candidates.
The CNA Competency Exam covers conceptual knowledge and clinical proficiency. You have to pass both sections to be certified. Each state sets its own rules, so be sure you know what your state requires.
The CNA exam has a written component plus a practical application element where you demonstrate your command of skills necessary to do the daily tasks of the job. The written portion uses multiple-choice questions to test your knowledge of nursing concepts and the clinical skills part requires you to perform nursing tasks in front of an examiner. Practice tests are available to help you get comfortable with the exam.
Study Tips for CNA Classes
You don’t want to have to take the CNA exam more than once, so it’s essential to study and to feel prepared and confident. Simply reading the text and taking notes won’t get you there. Mastering the material takes active engagement. Here are a few study tips that have proven effective for CNA test prep.
- Schedule study time: Passing your exam the first time is a priority, so don’t wait until the last minute to study. Set up a schedule and treat study time like an important appointment. Try to remove all distractions. Make sure you’re comfortable and able to focus.
- Take practice exams: CNA practice exams will help you understand the test’s format and structure. Taking practice exams gives you a chance to find out what material you know well and what you need to study more. Timing yourself can help you get a feel for the amount of time to spend on each section. CNA practice exams are available online, from Amazon, and at public libraries.
- Organize a study group: Try to get together with others who are also preparing to take the exam. As long as you stay focused on the topic for an agreed amount of time, study groups can be an effective way to prepare. If you can, find people who’ve taken the exam and are willing to talk to you. They can provide valuable information and tips.
- Explain your answers to others: Having to articulate your answers, and the reasoning behind them, is a great way to check the clarity and command you have of the information. If you don’t have a study group for this, use friends or your parents or sibling.
- Read it, write it, say it, repeat it: When you review the material, identify the key points, write them down, and read them out loud. Repeat several times. This method encompasses multiple learning modalities and is useful for many students.
- Create study aids: Simple bullet points, numbered lists, and flow charts can be helpful study tools.
Some people study better in the morning. Some are more productive at night. Regardless of the time of day you prefer for your CNA exam prep, remember to take breaks, make nutritious snack choices such as nuts, yogurt, blueberries, and apples, and drink plenty of water. It’s also important to get good sleep and be well-rested on exam day.
Tips for Passing the CNA Exam
If you don’t know the material, all the test-taking strategies in the world won’t save you. The best and most important tip is to be prepared.
- Arrive early: A late arrival can leave you feeling flustered and unsettled, so it’s wise to arrive a few minutes early and take a moment to relax and focus.
- Listen carefully to all instructions: Pay attention. Ask questions if you need to. You don’t want to risk a lower score on material simply because you failed to follow instructions.
- Pace yourself: Before you begin, quickly look over the entire test and determine how to pace yourself so you can complete the entire test in the allotted time.
- Read directions carefully: Always read all directions carefully and make sure you understand them.
- Multiple-choice strategies: You have a limited amount of time so answer the easy questions first, then go back to the harder ones. Read all the potential answers and eliminate the ones you know aren’t correct. Pay attention to qualifiers such as always, usually, never, and to key words such as not and except.
- Look for cues: Some questions contain cues that can help you answer other items. If two answers are similar, pay very close attention to the details.
- Rely on your first instinct: If you’ve studied well and feel prepared, trust your first instinct once you’ve carefully and thoughtfully read the question and all possible answers.
- True statements: Sometimes, an answer choice will be true in itself but doesn’t answer the question being asked. It’s important to always read the entire question before you answer.
The practical portion of the exam will require you to demonstrate skills such as taking blood pressure, measuring and recording respiration, transferring a patient to a wheelchair, and many more items for an examiner who will observe as you complete the tasks. Each skill is a series of steps you must know and follow during the evaluation. If you make a mistake or forget a step, tell the evaluator right away. You can make corrections while you’re doing the skill, but not afterward. Tell the examiner what you’re doing and why you’re doing it as you complete each step of a task.
The most important advice anyone can give you is to learn the material. If you study and prepare and are confident you know the information, these tips can help you make sure you pass your exam and become certified.