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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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