CNA Exam Information

You must complete a CNA training program and complete the CNA certification exam before you can work as a certified nursing assistant(in most states).  If you are about to enroll in a course or are currently attending a CNA exam, you might be worrying about taking the CNA exam.  It will help you to understand a little more about the exam.

The first thing to keep in mind if you are training to become a CNA is that you need to pay close attention during your CNA training.  Your course will be designed to prepare you for the CNA examination.  You must carefully follow all classroom lectures, lab work and hands on studies.  You will learn through studying and through practice. Check out our online CNA study guide to get a comprehensive review of the exam and ensure you are well prepared.

Written Portion of the CNA exam

A CNA certification exam is divided into two different parts, both of which will be completed in the same day.  You will begin by taking a written examination.  The written portion of the test will cover a lot of the material that you learned during your lectures and labs.  Questions will pertain to patient care, patient charting and other important lessons and skills you learned during your training course.

The written part of the test will be comprised of multiple choice questions that you must answer.  You will usually have up to two hours to complete this part of the test.  In some settings, every student must finish this part of the test, before anyone can begin the clinical portion of the test.

Skills Portionof the CNA exam

Your second part of the test will be where you demonstrate your ability to complete tasks that you will be performing as a certified nursing assistant.  Of course, you cannot demonstrate all skills during the test.  Most tests will have you complete somewhere between 3 and 6 different tasks.  You will be modeling these tasks on a person who is acting as a patient.  Many test programs will require you to bring a friend or family member with you to act as your patient.

It is important to realize that when you are asked to complete a particular task, you must perform all steps that you would perform in a clinical setting to complete that task.  For example, if you are asked to take a patient’s blood pressure, you do not merely walk over to the patient and start taking their blood pressure.  You must first demonstrate your ability to properly wash your hands before working with the patient.

You must remember to knock on the patient’s door to let them know you are entering the room.  Introduce yourself to your practice patient and tell them what you are going to be doing before performing the task.  For example, you might say, “Good Morning Mrs. Jones.  I am Jane and I will be working as your nursing assistant today.  I need a moment to take your blood pressure reading.”

It is important to follow all steps that you learned during your CNA classes in order to pass your certification exam.  Students often forget some basic steps when they are taking the examination.  This is not hard to do since you are not yet working in the clinical setting and as a result of being nervous for the exam.

CNA Certification Exam Tips

Here are some things you must remember when taking the exam.  Show the instructor that you know that you must wash your hands before interacting with a patient.  Demonstrate the fact that you know you must knock on a patient’s door before entering the room.  If there is not a door to a room where you are testing, mention to the examiner that this is when you would knock on the door before entering the room.  Remember to introduce yourself to your model patient.  Close the privacy curtain in their room (or mention that you would be closing this curtain now if you were in a clinical setting).

Even when you are testing, it is important to tell your model patient what you are going to be doing before demonstrating your skill.  For example, let him or her know that you are going to be repositioning them in bed or helping them to get dressed and groomed for the day.  You never want to just barge into a patient’s room without telling them what you will be doing.

When you are taking the skills portion of your certification exam, there are a couple other things to remember.  It is important to put up a patient’s side rails if you are going to be moving them in their bed or performing another task where you need to make certain they do not fall.  Side rails should be put back down after you are finished with your task unless there is an order to always have their side rail up for safety.

If one of your tasks that you must demonstrate is to brush a patient’s hair or help them to dress, remember to ask your model patient what they would like.  For example, you can ask if they have a particular outfit they would like to wear today or how they would like their hair to be styled.  You must always help a patient to preserve their dignity.  This must be demonstrated even during your certification exam.


Taking the CNA exam will not be as difficult as you might think if you have followed along during your course.  You should look over all handouts and tests you took during your training course.  In addition, you can find practice exams and study guides online that you can purchase for use when studying for the exam.  Enlist the help of family and friends to allow you to practice some of your CNA skills before the test.  Remember, it will be possible to retake the test if you fail on the first try.

70 Responses to CNA Exam Information

  1. ingabire April 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    Hi, Thank you for information, my Question is What do I need to have before taking CNA class.
    Another question is Do I need to have recent physical exam, for how long.
    thanks .

    • Admin June 2, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

      Hi, You don’t need any physical exam before starting CNA classes. You just need a high school diploma in most cases.

    • Rebecca McNally September 29, 2014 at 5:55 am #

      It is true you need a highschool or equivalent, but you also in some states have to get test forr a few things, such as TB, HEP. B, C, – Not 100% about B. And I want to say one more thing but I can’t remember!!! Not all states test candidates for the same things but being you will be in direct contact with people with all kinds of “issues”, I would hope all states do extensive pre testing on students. I know I was in Maryland, but that was many years ago and I’m not 100% on what they tested me for, I just know they did and I had to bring in my results before I could begin the course!

  2. Connie June 2, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    How many questions can you miss on the CNA exam? How many total questions are there?

    • Admin June 2, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

      In the skills part of the exam, five different skills are tested. You have to do all of them to pass the exam. For the theoretical part, it depends on the passing percentage set by your state.

    • majid salam March 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      you cant miss more than 20 questions on the test

      • Shannon May 5, 2012 at 6:05 am #

        On the stna test how many can you miss on the written?

      • micheline georges December 5, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

        i am a medical assistant and a nursing assistant pca home health aide

  3. shirley November 29, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    i became a cna in 1986 and remained until 1996.and then became a hemodialysis tech in 1999 and question is can’t i just challenge the cna boards to re-instate my certifcate.

    • Admin December 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

      Hi Shirley,
      You’ll have to retake the training as well.

  4. Ashley January 14, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    My question is, I have already completed my CNA class but, didn’t know how long you could wait to take your state boards?

    • Admin February 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      the maximum amount of time you can wait is two year. If two years lapses you’ll have to redo the training.

  5. Kerri McCaughey January 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    If I have been working in the Medical Field for 17 years, I started out as a CNA and because I moved so often I never received my CNA Renewal, since then I have been working as a Medical Assistant, Can I just take the CNA Test or do I have to take a class?

    • Admin February 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

      If you haven’t renewed your license and it has expired, you’ll need to retake the training as well as the test.

    • tina November 22, 2011 at 1:44 am #

      no you do not need to take the training again just contact the nurse regerstry and provide them with your employment that you have been working as a cna , as long as you worked at least 12 in that whole 2 year period you will recive a grant letter from nurse regerstry then they will give you a list of places that will be testing you pay $106 and the school or nursing home that excepts you has 10 days to mail in your money order you award letter and your application and the date of your test , im doing mine now i test dec 9 ,,,

      • Murial T. Henry April 12, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

        I have worked for the past 25 years as a CNA. I acquired my certification in VA, but allowed it to laspe when I started doing Phlebotomy. I am also a certified Phlebotomist, but have not been employed as such for over 20 years.

        I went back to a Community College in 2013, passed the Phlebotomy course and sat for my exam in February 2014. Although I passed the exam and I am excellent in preforming venipuncture, I was not hired, and I feel it was because of my age. I am presently 66.

        I have been consistently employed in Home Healthcare for the past 4 years, and I was a licensed Therapeutic Foster Parent from 2005 to 2014. I received training in CPR, Medical Administration, Fluid & Bloodborne Pathogens, and First Aides. All of the aforementioned programs were required by the state and had to be renewed every year. That meant attending classes and being retrained every year.

        I want to challenge the Indiana CNA Exam. I have read several comments where Administration states one must retake the course in order to sit for the exam, but I have also read a statement from Tina who states one does not have to retake the course because she is challenging the test.

        I would really like clarification on this because I want to take the exam. I have the knowledge and experience to pass the exam without retaking the course. I am learning every day and there is never a time when I am not improving, but it would be a waste of my money and time to retake what I already know. But, if I must, I will, because I want my certification.

  6. Regina Taylor June 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    hey I have taken a cna class but it have been 3 years I passed the written part and fail the skills do I have to take the class again I live florida

    • Admin June 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

      Yes, You’ll have to take the training and do the certification test again.

  7. Christina July 9, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    I am considering taking the course, my only concern is that my husband is military and we may be getting stationed somewhere else (we are now in NC). My question is, if we do move, will I have to retake the course or exam for that state?

    • Admin July 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

      Nope. You’ll simply have to apply for a transfer of license which is a swift and easy process.

  8. kisha July 20, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Can’t I challenge the state without going to a class to earn my cna license

    • Admin July 20, 2011 at 2:14 am #

      Training is a must. Unless you’ve been a CNA before, you can’t opt to just do the exam instead of the training. Getting your training from an accredited training provider is one of the requirements for the CNA certification exam.

      • tia July 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

        This must not be for state of florida because you can challenge the test without any traning…atleast in florida you can…i mean of course it would be smart to do training if u have no experience at all

        • Admin July 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

          Hi Tia,
          Thank you for clearing that up. It is indeed true that you can challenge the CNA exam without training in the state of Florida. The training is however a mandatory prerequisite in most states.

    • Brianna August 7, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

      In the state of NC, you MUST go through the training program again before taking the state test if your license has lapsed or if you have never been a CNA before. They recently changed it to that, due to so many people thinking they knew exactly what to do and failing because they hadn’t been updated on the information. Rules, guidelines, and procedures change all the time and it is so, very important to stay up to date and be sure to not let your license lapse. It saves time, money, and stress if you just renew your certification before the deadline is up. I’m not sure what other state’s procedures/rules are, but you must retake the course if you haven’t remained up to date!

  9. heidi July 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    I have been working as a PCT in Georgia. Here we aren’t required to have a certification. Can I challenge the board and take the CNA exam? I do exactly the same thing as a CNA I was just trained at the hospital I work at.

    • Admin July 22, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      Unfortunately, all states require that you take a training program to be eligible for the CNA certification exam.

      • Admin July 24, 2011 at 12:36 am #

        Hi, As you’ll see above we just discovered that Florida does not require you to take the training to be eligible for the CNA exam. You should clarify this with your state nursing board.

  10. donna pittman September 5, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    last year 2010 i took the refresher course for cna but i missed the testing time can i ask for a testing time now since i never registered for a previous date of time for testing

    • Admin September 5, 2011 at 8:48 am #

      Hi Donna. After taking the training, you have a maximum of two years within which you have to register for the certification exam.

  11. Misty November 2, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    my question is, I am done with the cna classes and got all my hours now i need to know how to go about taking the state test?!… at the facility that i took my classes at our teacher said that if we did not want to work for that facilitly then we are responsible for setting up and taking the test ourselves how do i go about doing that? who do i contact and so forth?? i live in Texas

    • tina November 22, 2011 at 1:47 am #

      you can call nurse regerstry they will mail you a list of places in your area testing you can get one of them to let you test with them and pay $106 then you can test yes you can test

  12. Kayla Millsaps January 2, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    If i failed 1 of the 5 skills parts on the cna exam; how long can i wait to be able to take it again? And if i have waited 4 months will they make me retake the whole test again?? I really need to know before my certificate of training expires in a few months, if anyone knows please help me as soon as you can please….

  13. Pamela Gulik January 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    To Whom it May Concern,
    I have about 4 yrs experience as a CNA but did not need the certificate in the state that I worked in. Since I moved here to Indiana I found out that I need my certification, is there a way for me to take the test without having to go to the classes?

    • Admin March 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      You can transfer your certification to Indiana if it is still active in your old state. If not, you’ll need to take the training and do the exam again.

  14. Yvonne February 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    I took the CNA exam, written and clinical. Is there any room for error in the clinical?
    If you forget to do something in the procedure, do you automatically fail?
    Thank you

  15. aheesha February 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    I passed my cna written exam but failed the clinical skills part in 2009 can i retake the clinical skills test or do i have to take the whole class all over again please can someone get back to me asap bc the prometric website has been absolutely no help

  16. Sabrina March 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    I have completed my CNA classes and some of my clinicals, how long do I have to complet the clinicla before I have to start over again. I am in the state of MO.

  17. smuehlma March 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    If I completed two semesters of nursing school, including Foundations, physical assessment, Mental health, plus 70 hours in a hospital doing clinicals, and all my pre-reguisites like chemistry Anatomy and Phy, English Comp, Pysch, Critical thinking, can I sit to take the CNA exam in Indiana? I am taking some time off nursing schhol, and I need a job and I would like the experience too. Thanks

  18. edyta April 17, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    HI I am a student going for the Bachelor of Science in nursing, but meanwhile I am working as a patient care. I am considering taking exam for CNA but without doing training-so I have a job while at school. I will just learn on my own- can I do just exam and where can I can I do it. I live in Fl Orlando area. Is it possible just to pay for an exam or you had to go through school? Like I said I am already at school so I just don’t have a time to take extra classes. Thank you

    • Admin June 5, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

      Both the long and short answer for this is YES! lol In the state of Florida anyone can challange the CNA test. However, if you have not taken the classes the skill part of the exam can be a challange; especially is you have performance anxiety like I do! Good luck to you!

  19. Brandy April 17, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    How many steps can I miss on the skills portion or is it if I miss 1 step I fail completely?

    • Admin May 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      This may depend on the state you are testing in. I can tell you though that in NC things are fairly lenient. There are 4 random skills you must complete including handwashing. Handwashing is always the first step. The important thing to remember is not to miss a major step as this CAN cause you to be failed. However, if you are demenstrating a skill and miss a small step and realize it, you can stay I want to start over or I forget to do such and such and simply go back and do it. The only thing you cannot do is move on to a diffent skill, remember that you messed up on the previous skill and go back to correct. Once a skill is completed and the next is began you cannot go back to the previous skill. Most testers are pretty understanding about the fact that we are nervous about being stared at while preforming our duties. As long as you try, recognize when you make a mistake and NEVER forget to add wash your hands and place the call bell within the patients reach, you will be fine! I was terrified as well since I have a huge problem with performance anxiety. I did fine and you will too! Good luck!

  20. lisa June 3, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    so say that you fail your exam, you get another chance to retake it again? if not do you have to begin taking classes again and pay the whole amount again?

    • Admin June 4, 2012 at 9:12 am #

      Hi, You have three attempts to take the test. If you fail all three times you need to retake the training.

  21. Carmen June 6, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Hello. I just got accepted into a cna course in California , they said there would be a physical exam. What kind of physical exam is it? Is it like a urine test and taking my weight and height? Or is testing my physical strength?

    • Jamie January 19, 2013 at 5:58 am #

      Physical exam meaning the skills test to get your certification.

  22. sylvie June 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    anyone is going for the CNA exam the June 21st in manhattan???

  23. Baleria Borja October 3, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    Thank you for writing the CNA tips of preparing taking the CNA test.

  24. Candace December 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    If i have already taken the CNA class in 2009 is it too late to go take the test to become certified?

  25. andrea January 29, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    i took my cna classes in indiana and its been almost a year, can i still take my exam with out having to retake the classes?

  26. Jenna January 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    I’m a registered nurse in the Philippines and worked for 2 years as Industrial nurse. Just wanna know if i’m legible to challenge the CNA examination without attending CNA class. I’m here in hawaii now as an immigrant. Thanks

  27. jessica ledesma February 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    i am from iowa and i recently took the exam part of the test and i passed it at indian hills community college in ottumwa iowa so all that i needed to do it take the clinical part of the test and i didnt get that done before i moved to tennessee, so my question is will i have to take both parts of the test over and if i do can i just challenge the test and test out and also how much would it be and how do i go about doing all of this
    thanks so much i look forward to a responce

  28. Alisa lane March 16, 2013 at 1:41 am #

    I have taken my class for my CNA. All that is left to do is do my state rest. However, I moved to Abilene, TX before I was able to do my state test. Who do I need to contact in order to reschedule my testing so I can get this done?

  29. Kayla April 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    I was just wondering what anyone thinks would be the best thing to look over for the skills portion of the test. I do not have anyone to study with/practice on and I am very worried about how I will do. I failed the skills the first time I took it and was just looking for a way to calm to nerves! Thanks.!

    • Melissa June 24, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

      I know how u feel I am a wreck , I failed my skills portion today and I’m devistatd . Prometrics has not been real helpful with another regional testing site for me to go too in my area . Limited on options and may have to travel very far to take this skills test over . I passed 4 out of 5 and passed the written . Im so upset

    • Angela August 20, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

      You really need to find someone to practice on.

  30. Bluebitsq May 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Hi! I just wanna ask if anyone here can help me. I’m a graduate of nursing In the Philippines. I’m in New York and I want to start working as cna while I’m doing my review for nclex next year. . I’ve tried searching the Internet but I can’t find the right answer to my problem.

    Can I just take the test for cna even without going to training school? Where should I go? Thank you

    • Neha August 10, 2013 at 5:34 am #

      Hi Bluebits,
      Im going to do same. I’m RN from foreign country. I have a test on august 30. First step is to register your name in OBRA. Then send application to state DOH. Later OBRA will check your transcript and qualification and let you know if you are elligble to take test. If yes then they will send you certificate to send back in pearson vue for schedule the test.
      Thats how i scheduled for CNA test. 🙂

  31. kim November 12, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    hi I needed to know I finally pass my skills in march of 2012 and failed my written exam does my two years started from the time I pass in 2012 or when i failed both parts in 2011

  32. Mae November 22, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    If I arrived 10 minutes late and missed taking the test (NYC), can I reschedule and do I have to pay again?

  33. Megan January 11, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    I got my CNA in 2004 and worked a few months in a Nursing home, would I be able to just take a refresher course or do I have to start from fresh with the classes again? I live in Illinois.

  34. marcia January 17, 2014 at 4:07 am #

    what is a written exam like

  35. Stephanie February 1, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    I pass my written test,but I failed two times the skills if I fail this time I need to do everything the written oh I need to come back to the school

  36. Robin Garcia July 28, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Hi, i was wondering i received my CNA when i was 17 years old. Never did anything with it. but i’m 31 now, and i want to see what i need to do that career path again. Please let me know. I need some assistance. Thank you .

  37. Paula stephenson August 4, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    I have been a cna before and completed a course twice in Montana and was wondering if a person could challenge the test in Colorado to become certified again? My certification has expired in Montana.

  38. MA August 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

    I took the CNA class and exam years ago in Iowa, i am going to pursue my nursing degree, would i need to re take the class and exam or can i just take the exam over, it has been over 5 years.

    Thanks for the information!

  39. D.j October 14, 2014 at 5:26 am #

    Hi Im already a certified cna and work as a pct in a hospital but wanted to know if I could take the medical assistant exam to be able to work as one without having to go to school or any training. I’m in Illinois is there a way to just take the exam?

  40. Nina Sue October 20, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

    I plan to challenge the test in Missouri. I became a CNA in 2009 and my license is now inactive. My place of work applied for my test to be taken two weeks after I inquired about challenging the test. I am not sure that I will be ready after just two weeks of preparation. If a test is ordered and I miss that test will that be counted as a failed attempt? They told me I just have one chance to challenge without retaking the course.
    Thanks in advance for advice.

  41. Phyllis October 23, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Hello i am a medical assistant.Someone recently told me when you have taken your fundamentals of can just take the CNA exam.Is this true? And how do i do this?

Leave a Reply