Local: (407) 777 - 9778 --- Toll Free: 1 (877) NURSE - AIDE info@gabrielhealth.org

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Skills Test – 6 Must-Know Tips


To become a certified nursing assistant, a rewarding career, the first hurdle is to complete the CNA training program. After completing training, the second hurdle is to get a license by passing the CNA exam so you can look for a job. To get the license, one should have complete command over skills that have been taught during the CNA course.

What is a CNA Clinical Skills Test?

A healthcare worker measuring a patient s blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer

Typically, a CNA test consists of two parts, i.e., a written test and a clinical skill test. The written exam consists of 60 to 100 multiple-choice questions (depending on the state). The passing score for the written test is 70 to 80 percent.

After the written examination, the 2nd and most crucial part of the exam begins, which is the clinical skills test. In the skills exam, out of 30 skills that students have learned in CNA classes, they are asked to demonstrate 3 to 6 skills within the given time (mostly 30 minutes). An evaluator judges all these tasks. Proficiency during this part is fundamental to impress your evaluator. The passing score is usually 80%.

Most of the CNAs are nervous about the skills examination. Wondering whether CNA skills test hard? How to get the max out of your training program? How to pass the skills test?

To help you pass this hurdle, we have assembled a list of 6 tips. Read on to know more about them

6 Must-Know Tips to Pass The CNA Skills Test

A CNA holding a thermometer

Below are six must-know tips to help you easily pass the CNA skills test. Let’s dig in.

1. Essential Skills to Get Familiar With

There is no other way except that you should have full command over each skill. Most students are not proficient in all the skills, which is their biggest mistake. It is not known which skills students will be tested on, so having a full grasp of the protocol of all 30 skills is essential.

List of CNA Skills

  • Indirect care
  • Measuring body temperature, blood pressure, rate of respiration, and pulse rate
  • Handwashing
  • Output measurement from a urinary bag
  • Feeding
  • Catheter care
  • Ambulation (walking) with a gait belt
  • Hand and foot care
  • Nail and hair care
  • Mouth care (patients with dentures)
  • Mouth care (for conscious and unconscious patients)
  • Donning and Doffing the safety equipment (gloves and gown)
  • Helping patients in toileting with a bedpan
  • Switching an occupied bed
  • Transferring the patient to a wheelchair
  • Changing the position of the patient in the bed
  • Perineal care of male patients
  • Perineal care of female patients
  • Partial bed baths of the lower body
  • Partial bed baths of the upper body
  • Changing the dress of a patient with a fragile arm
  • Elastic support stocking application
  • Shaving
  • Abdominal thrust
  • Positioning of the body in sim’s, lateral, fowler’s, prone and supine position
  • Different motion exercises for upper body parts like the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and fingers
  • Different motion exercises for lower body parts such as the ankle, knee, toe, and hip
  • Massaging and back rubbing of patients
  • Weight calculation
  • Height measurement

2. Smart Study

Studying smart is essential to save time, and it helps you to mesmerize all the skills within a short amount of time. The Internet has turned the world into a global village, and you can access everything there. One of the best ways to remember things is through listening and watching videos. All the skills mentioned above are demonstrated in several videos which are available on different youtube channels, helping CNAs to pass the test with ease.

Another old trick to practice for skill exams is to use flashcards. On one side of the card, you can write the skills name; on the other, you can paste or write all the compulsory steps needed to perform each task. Then shuffling and recalling them again will help you to remember the steps for all skills. Group study is also an effective way to learn things. Before the testing day, students can practice each skill with their classmates/teammates and get feedback.

3. Know Your State

Each state has a list of certified schools offering the CNA training course. For the skills exam, all the states have similar requirements, but the testing method of each state can vary as different states employ different examination boards. In some states, you may be required to learn a few skills, and some may use actors or mannequins on which students will demonstrate.

Test Providers and Skills Tested

Different test providers of states and the skills tested by them are mentioned below.

  • American Red Cross or private universities: KY, IN, IL, CA, UT, NH, ME, MA, WV, VT
  • Pearson VUE: CO, CA, AK, AL, MD, GA, DC, NH, MS, MN, PA, NC, SC, RI, VA, TX, WA, VT
  • Headmaster: ND, MT, AZ, NV, NJ, NH, OR, OH, TN, WI, SD
  • Prometric: CT, AR, AL, FL, DE, ID, HI, MI, LA, OK, NY, NM

4. Practice Skills, Common in All-State Tests

A CNA washing her hands

In most state skills tests, few skills are commonly judged, and little mistakes in any of these will lead to you to failure. Common skills are given below.


Handwashing is the utmost important skill and is included in all state tests as it is the basic method to control infection.

Measurements Taking

During the test, forgetting how to calculate radial pulse is the worst thing to happen to any student. Make sure you brush all the measurement-taking procedures before the test, as you may be asked to measure the radial pulse, rate of respiration, or blood pressure of the patient. Urine output measurement is also common.

Indirect Care

In indirect care, CNAs are required to communicate with patients and pay attention safety, comfort, needs, and rights of patients.

5. Rehearse the Test Strategy

Two weeks before the test, practice all the skills one by one each day. For this purpose, arrange 20 to 30 minutes for practice every day. Go through all the 30 skills and also practice vocalizing the procedure of each skill like you are explaining to the patient. Also, practice introducing yourself during this period. This may be a good time to practice handwashing skills while following proper protocol. Equipment recognition should also be practiced. All this can be done in a group study, and it will boost your confidence.

6. Instructions for The Big Day

After you have fully prepared for the test, you will be ready to take the challenge. On the day of the test, be sure to follow the given instructions.

Sleep Early

Make sure to sleep early before the test day. This will ensure good emotional and mental health, positively affecting your CNA skills test. If you don’t sleep early, stress will affect your test leading you to mess up everything.

Dress Properly

The proper dressing will not only boost your confidence and leave a good impression on the evaluator but will also improve your performance on the test day. So make sure to be in professional attire.

  • Wear closed-toe non-slippery shoes and standard scrubs
  • Make sure Hair is out of your face (or tied back)
  • Short and clean nails are good for performing tasks efficiently. Big nails may cause infection.
  • Try not to wear jewelry

Arrive Early at The Test Center

Be at the test center about 20 minutes earlier, so you can talk to other students and calm yourself and quickly review your notes.

Be Respectful

Your behavior will also be judged, so try to remain calm and polite with the evaluator. This will reflect how you will behave with patients.

Read the Provided Instructions Carefully

After arriving at the test center, you may be given a list of skills ranging from 3 to 6 on which you will be tested. Don’t rush and read them thoroughly and recall your training to know how to perform them. Don’t mix the steps of different skills.

Ask Questions

You are allowed to ask the questions before the test has begun. So take the given opportunity, read the given skills list you are going to demonstrate, survey the room, and ask the question if you are confused by the terms given in the list (which are maybe phrased differently). Listen to the instructions given by the examiner and ask the question if you don’t understand them.

Make Corrections

After the test has started, you are only a few minutes away from qualifying.

  • Verbalize every step you are doing while going through each skill. Make sure to perform every step.
  • Tell the evaluator if you forget a step or make a mistake, then go back to the missed step and resume. You can only make corrections during the test performance but not afterward.

Skills tests are always stressful, but if you have studied hard and prepared well, it will help you cross the finish line easily.

Read Also: CNA Exam Tips: Crack Your Exam Like A Pro