Tips for Mastering the Skills Portion of Your CNA Test

The certified nurse assistant test consists of two parts:  written and clinical skills.  For the clinical portion, you will have to successfully complete three separate skills for a test administrator appointed from your state.  Most students find this to be the most stressful part of the test.  During the actual test it will be you, the examiner, and possibly a volunteer in the room.  Even the thought of this scenario can lead to extreme anxiety in many students.  By following the tips provided in this article, you will increase your chances of passing this part of your exam.

  1. Practice your skills as taught by your instructor and as demonstrated in your text book.  The more you practice, the more confident you will feel.  Enlist the help of family, friends, co-workers, or even use a doll.  Ask your teacher for extra help if you are struggling with certain skills.  Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you feel confused as to how to do a certain skill.  Being afraid to ask for help can be a barrier to learning and can ultimately lower your chances of passing.  The old saying “Practice makes perfect.” Is true!
  2. With each skill you perform during your test, remember to introduce yourself.  It is important to display professionalism with each skill performance.   Even if you a performing a skill on the manikin, such as doing a rectal temperature, make sure you introduce yourself and explain what you are about to do.  Some students have lost points for failing to do so.
  3. Get a good night’s sleep before your test.  Lack of sleep can add to your nerves.  Fatigue can also lead to poor recall, clumsiness, and irritability.  All these are things that could change the outcome of your test and they are all preventable with enough rest.
  4. Eat a good meal before your test.  Being hungry can lead to the same symptoms as little sleep.  It also can be a distraction that takes your focus off the task at hand.  Make sure the meal is filling but not too heavy.  Skip foods that have caused you problems in the past; diarrhea, gas, indigestion.  Healthy choices are always best.  Also, avoid too much caffeine as this can increase jitters.  Stick with water to keep yourself hydrated.
  5. During the test:  wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.  You cannot wash your hands enough.  Wash before and after each skill and as instructed by your teacher.  Forgetting to wash your hands is an infection control issue and can lead to a failure.
  6. If you make a mistake during your test, “fess up”.  By telling the examiner what your mistake is and how you would have done it the right way, you are showing knowledge, honesty, and possibly winning back valuable points.
  7. Breathe.  Before going in for your exam, take 5-10 deep cleansing breaths.  This will release carbon monoxide and lactic acid and increase oxygen and blood flow, in turn, lowering pulse and respirations thereby, calming you.  Never underestimate the power of a few deep breaths!

With these tips and a good knowledge of the skills you learned in the classroom, you are sure to be a success!

Expert Contribution by: Nicolle Wagner, RN, BSN, RAC-CT

8 Responses to Tips for Mastering the Skills Portion of Your CNA Test

  1. Maria Elena Mayor January 16, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    Thanks, the next tuesday I will be in my test for CNA and the tips above is very important for me!!!! again thank you.!!!!!

  2. neshia June 22, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    i have certification july 10 im kind of nervous about it im very comfortable when it comes down to the written part but not the skills but by reading this helps alot wish me luck

  3. lhen September 19, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    Im a BSN graduate from the Philippines, unfortunately i was not able to pass my Licensure exam in PH and im married and reside here in Washington. Im planning to take the licensure exam or the Nursing Assistant Certified here in Washington, would it be possible if i can take the exam and how long is the process,and what are the requirements for the application? I need some information as what to do.Thank you so much.Hope you can give me some input.

  4. Shan-chan January 2, 2013 at 12:25 am #

    Thank you for these helpful tips…My test is tomorrow and I really do hope I pass. I’m making myself more nervous than I meant to! Well wish me luck

    • Admin January 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      Best of Luck! You’ll do well. :)

  5. Jacquelyn Wells April 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    I have my test on Thursday April 11th, Im so nervous. Thanks for the tips.

    • Larenteen Morrison May 29, 2013 at 4:46 am #

      I have to take my skills test over because of indirect contact everything else i did right. Im still nervous please help me!!!!

  6. Loura October 10, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    this is so helpful,when you have no clue about the process of the testing for CNA,thankyou

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