After completing your training program, you must get a license to work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). And to obtain this license, you must pass the CNA skills test after completing the appropriate certification course.
There are two components in the test. The written examination makes up the first. The clinical skills test, also known as the CNA skills test, makes up the second segment. You must pass both to get a license. Depending on your state, you would need a 70–80% or higher score to pass.
You will get multiple-choice questions in the written exam, while you will have to perform the clinical skills test with an assessor. Thus, to qualify for this test, you must have a firm understanding of the technical and practical knowledge you acquired while completing the CNA program.
Today, in this article, we will discuss the CNA skills test and everything you need to know about it. So, without much ado, let’s proceed.
What is the CNA Skills Test?
The CNA skills test is an accurate reflection of your CNA course. However, the training you get does not entirely prepare you to demonstrate your talent in front of a highly qualified assessor. So, the best chance to ace the test the first time is to spend enough time studying each of the abilities in-depth.
The CNA skills test usually includes 3-6 tasks that nursing assistants must perform, depending on where they live. You will have to demonstrate your abilities to the assessor during the test. Therefore, you must carefully and accurately depict the key responsibilities of each activity.
This exam component may only require a small number of abilities to qualify. However, aspiring nurses should know that the test designers have a selection of about 30 different practical activities. Every certified nursing aide should have the capabilities to perform these activities.
Crucial Skills You Need to Posses to Pass the CNA Skills Test
Here are the essential skills you should acquire before taking the CNA skills test.
Taking blood pressure readings
Checking the body temperature
Using a gait belt when ambulating
Measuring and recording pulses
Measuring a urine bag’s output
Respiration measurement and recording
Performing oral care
Ensuring dentures and oral hygiene
Caring for unconscious patients
Using a bedpan for the bathroom
Knowing different body positions: Sim’s, Fowler’s, lateral, supine, prone
Caring for patient’s hands and nails
Ensuring their foot care
Moving them from a wheelchair
Adjusting the patient’s posture in bed
Facilitating indirect care
Transforming a sleeping bed
Offering male and female perineal care
Rendering partial bath in bed
Outfitting a patient with a weakened arm
Applying support stockings with elastic
Facilitating catheter care
Knowing the exercises for the range of motion (elbow, wrist)
Helping patients exercises for the range of motion (shoulder)
Ensuring exercises for the range of motion (hip, knee, ankle)
How to Prepare for the CNA Skills Test?
The skills test portion of the certification exam causes maximum anxiety for almost every aspiring CNA. Since students need to complete the test before an evaluator, they are more worried about passing it than the written exam. It is so because the evaluator judges their abilities and competence to meet the essential duties of each task.
You have 30 minutes to show your “patient” how to do each task. Typically, the patient is an actor, although occasionally, it may be another nurse assistant.
The evaluator usually tests you on roughly 30 fundamental operations. So, CNA applicants cannot predict which skills the evaluator will ask for, except handwashing, which is required in every state. Well, you never know, but you might even have to give the exam on all 30 fundamental operations.
So, to prepare for the exam effectively and walk in confidently, here are some strategies you can adopt.
1. Have a Thorough Understanding of All the Essential CNA Skills
Although it may seem simple, the biggest mistake students make is not being adept in all of their academic subjects. Except for handwashing, there is no way to predict which of the 30 talents your evaluator may want to assess. Hence, keep yourself prepared to complete all the essential skills mentioned above.
As a result of your training, you already possess these abilities. Also, you will have to employ these abilities daily after becoming a certified nursing assistant. So, you must familiarize yourself with them and adhere to a set of steps for executing each skill during the assessment. Make sure you are acquainted with and comprehend each of these CNA activities. It will help you feel more confident about your readiness for the test.
2. Take Advantage of the Plethora of Learning Resources Available Online
The secret to learning many things and knowing how to use them practically depends entirely on how you study. Since every person learns differently, you may use various resources available online. Experts advise combining audio and visual resources to learn and remember information.
Several free websites and YouTube channels are dedicated to assisting new and returning CNA students. They provide valuable resources and details on obtaining the CNA certification by qualifying for the skills test.
Studying in groups before the exam is also a great option that helps students test out their abilities on one another and get constructive feedback. Besides, using flashcards is another effective way to study that is extremely helpful in actively recalling information.
3. Know Your Hand Hygiene Practices and the Ways to Record Measurements
Infection control is a critical responsibility for a certified nursing assistant (CNA). So, hand hygiene practices are a crucial part of the duties of every CNA. Be sure to practice each step before you wash your hands properly. You will become more natural and less prone to making mistakes on the test as you practice every day.
Since there are a variety of metrics and methodologies, you must practice taking and recording measurements effectively. Again, active recall methods like using flashcards are an excellent way to remember them by memory. You can utilize this technique wherever you are and whenever you want to refresh your memory. You can even make use of them just before your skills test.
4. Carefully Analyze Every Information
Your evaluator may give you a list of 3-6 abilities or tasks to execute. They will assess you based on them at the exam location. So, ensure you comprehend each phrase and read it correctly. Recall the study guide and instruction for each skill during your course. Also, ensure you don’t mix up the measurements or procedure steps.
Thoroughly study the list of skills you will have to showcase and assess the room. Before the assessor invites you to start the tasks, ask any questions you may have. Maybe a skill is stated differently than it usually is. Or, perhaps there’s a piece of equipment you are not entirely sure how to use. It’s necessary to clear everything beforehand to avoid mishaps during the assessment.
Essential Things to Remember Before Taking the CNA Skills Test
You must finish CNA training programs with the authorization of the state where you intend to obtain your license and begin working. Each state has a list of CNA training schools that are recognized. Ensure the school you choose has the accreditation of your state.
Different states use various testing companies, and each may test you on different abilities. So, the skills exams for prospective CNAs will vary by state.
However, knowing that the skills exam will be administered in a clinical setting is crucial. It will simulate a sample patient experience as you studied for it. Therefore, you must have a firm grip on every practical skill to prove your proficiency.
On-the-job clinical experience is essential to prepare for certification and pass the skills exam. However, regardless of experience with these potential test requirements, prospective nursing assistants must have the capacity to practice the skills outside of the healthcare institution. As they require to perform them in front of an examiner, they must possess the ability to carry out the process in any setup.
These abilities that CNAs must exhibit are necessary not only to pass the test but also to provide good care to people in need. Therefore, certification candidates must complete their research and be well-prepared before showing up to take the test.
However, remember that not all states use the phrase “Certified Nursing Assistant.” This occupation is also known as a “nursing aide” in some states. So, do not get perplexed if you find it “Nursing Aide” instead.
Appearance plays a significant role in confidence.
Dress as if you were already working as a capable CNA on the day of your exam. Wear freshly laundered scrubs and closed-toed clinical shoes to ensure you are prepared for the day. A watch with a second hand is also essential while performing the activities. Moreover, ensure your hair is adequately pulled back and that your nails are short and tidy.
Be careful to reach the exam center at least 20 minutes early if the skills test is scheduled for a different day than the written test. Thanks to your assessor for their time.
Also, ask inquiries if you need more information on any task and pay close attention to the directions. Finally, take a deep breath as the test starts!