How to Prepare for CNA Exam: A Definitive Guide

How to Prepare for CNA Exam: A Definitive Guide

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Dreaming of stepping into the medical world since childhood? Does the world of doctors and nurses fascinate you? Are you planning to become a CNA, but you do not know how to prepare for CNA exam? Perhaps, you don’t know where to get the right practice tests or study guide either.

To resolve these worries regarding CNA, I have collected the best-curated data to make this definitive guide. The article will tell you how to prepare for CNA exam in the best way possible.

Without further ado, let us dive into the test preparation process.

CNA – Brief explanation

Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, are healthcare professionals who are responsible for attending to patients. CNAs normally work under a registered nurse and assist them in taking care of individual patients. Being a CNA is the first step of your nursing career.

Before discussing about how to prepare for CNA exam, it is essential to learn about the educational qualifications required for CNA training.

Educational Qualification required for CNA Training

The one reason why CNA is blooming as a career for the younger generation is because of the educational requirements. Before you prepare for CNA exam, you will have to check the eligibility criteria and requirements. To be eligible to become a CNA, you do not need a college degree and this suits many who wish to start early in life.

The basic educational requirements are:

  • High school degree (Diploma)


  • Graduation equivalent degree (GED)

If you have any one of these certificates, you are eligible for CNA training.

Once you are eligible for the CNA training program you can follow the below steps and prepare for CNA exam and course.

First, look for a suitable CNA course. CNA training courses vary from different organizations and with geography. Based on your choice and flexibility, you can opt for either an online or classroom program.

 Once you find a course of your choice, you can proceed with these steps to prepare for CNA exam.

  1. Some organizations might have an entrance exam for admission to the training courses.
  2. All training courses will include clinical training and the minimum hours of practical work required for the CNA certification exam.
  3. After completing the CNA training, the next step for you is to appear for the CNA certification exam. 
  4. Once you pass the CNA certification exam, you are given a CNA certificate, then you can start your career in the medical field.

Now that you are aware of the educational requirements to take the CNA training, the next step is to learn about how to prepare for CNA exam.

How to Prepare for CNA Exam

For any exam, you have to know the structure of the exam. Only then will you be able to prepare for the exam. Exam prep without knowing the syllabus or the structure might lead to a waste of time and resources. To prepare for CNA exam, you must prepare for 2 different sections.

Being aware of the structure of the CNA exam helps to efficiently prepare for the CNA exam. Let’s discuss about it in detail.

Structure of the CNA exam

The Certified Nursing Exam (CNA) comprises of two sections:

  • Written examination
  • Clinical examination

One thing you should note is that the rules and certification requirements for every state in the US are different. You have to be completely aware of the state requirements where you will be applying for the certification. To receive your certification in any state, you must pass both the written and clinical exams.

CNA Practical/Clinical Section

This section is the most interesting part of a CNA certification exam. You will be asked to perform certain nursing duties before an evaluator. I have given some of the most common clinical exam questions in this section.

  • Feeding a patient
  • Recording a pulse
  • Hand Hygiene
  • Knee-high Elastic Stocking application
  • Cleaning dentures
  • Helping patients move
  • Assisting with Bedpans
  • Assessing blood pressure and other vitals
  • Dressing patients who have severe limb injuries
  • Foot care
  • Helping with bed baths
  • Maintaining oral hygiene

The demonstration of your clinical will either happen using a mannequin or with your fellow candidates. It is essential that you pass this clinical test with at least 70% marks since this would impact your overall performance.

How Do I Pass the Clinical Section?

Did the above list get you worried already? Hey, go through the below steps. You’ll understand what you require and I’ll be happy to inspire you to come up with a plan of action.

  • Firstly, don’t worry about the written exam in the face of the clinical section. You can sail through the written tests if you prepare with practice tests such as these.
  • Prepare for the clinical exam with your friends and family beforehand. It helps in reducing the stress of performing and gives you enough time to practice.
  • Brush up on all the training you received during the CNA course. It does help to revise lessons, you know!
  • Think of the basic requirements you would need to take care of a patient. These are usually the questions that are asked by any evaluator.

During the Test

  • Stay calm but work with a sense of urgency. No CNA would be working under a relaxed condition all the time. The sense of urgency and focus you present will give you extra credit.
  • Treat the dummy or the fake patient like you would a real one. For example, moving a patient’s limbs needs utmost care and patience. Take your time in performing such tasks. You can save up time on other tasks.
  • Perform the tasks with a smile. It shows the calm nature that is so crucial in the healthcare domain.
  • Be confident. If you make a mistake, don’t lose hope. But make sure you own up for the error. Think that you are already a CNA and go on with the exam. I’m sure you will pass with flying colors.
  • Show them what you got! Your passion and empathy should reflect in the tasks that you perform.

CNA Written Section

Just like how important it is to know the clinical work hands-on, it is very important to know the theory behind every practical act.

  • The written section of the CNA exam is a multiple-choice question (MCQ) exam, consisting of 60 questions
  • The duration of the exam is 90 minutes.
  • Unlike the clinical section, the written test has many study guides to rely on. Take this Practice Test to understand the actual exam process.
  • Written exams are designed to test your knowledge about the nursing process and how you understand the role.
  • Questions are based on the CNA training material and the actual job role.

How to Prepare for CNA Exam

If you have been wondering about how to prepare for CNA exam, then this section will help you gain more knowledge about the preparation process.

Preparing for the CNA exam is easy if you know the right method of approach. I have given a list of things you need to know before beginning your exam prep.

CNA Exam Tips
CNA Exam Tips
  • Invest in a good study guide. This is a very important step for proper preparation. A good study guide can give you an overview, as well as a detailed breakdown of your syllabus.
  • Spend some quality time solving CNA practice tests. The practice tests will prepare you for the questions that appear on the exam.
  • Before you begin your exam preparation, the best practice is to make a study timetable and timebox the different sections. This will help you prevent spending too much time on one section.
  • In case you are stuck in a section, move on to the next. This is a time-bound exam and you can’t afford to lose even minutes. This is where preparing in advance lends you a hand.
  • Reading up on basic medical terms will help since the role of a CNA involves courses such as first-aid and taking vitals.
  • Eat well and stay fit. Staying in good health will help you to stay motivated and energetic throughout your exam preparation and execution.

The below image shows what this CNA Study Package has to offer.

On the Day of the Exam

Some of the things to bring on the examination day are as follows:

  • Arrive at the venue early to prevent pre-exam jitters.
  • Be confident about your exam prep. Keep this Practice Test handy. You can take it on your mobile device too. However, phones or calculators are not allowed inside the venue.
  • Bring two forms of government-issued identification proofs. One of these should be an image ID.

What to Do After CNA

With CNA being the entry-level job in the medical arena, it opens a very vast career path for you to opt into. You can start by working as a registered nurse to become a chief nurse in a clinical organization.

If you want to do something different, you can specialize in different fields, too. Some of the most popular career advancements after becoming a CNA are:

  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Registered Nurse
  • Certified Medical Assistant

To follow a career path after qualifying for the CNA certification exam, you can follow this pathway to bloom your nursing career:

  • CNA 1 exam
  • Entry Level Jobs
  • CNA 2 & CNA 3 exams
  • Bachelor’s degree and Postgraduate degree in nursing
  • National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
  • Registered Nurse

Wrapping up

Planning to enter the medical field can be a little intimidating in the beginning. But with the right guidance, and the right push in the right direction you can rise high in your career. This article should have helped you get a clear idea on how to prepare for CNA exam. To efficiently prepare for CNA exam, make sure to follow the above-discussed tips.

Being a CNA is just the start of a vast arena of career opportunities. A few all-nighters to secure a happy future cause no harm (Prove me right by getting your certification!).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which state has the highest paid jobs for CNA?

According to the data given by Ziippia, these are the top-paying states for CNA.

  • North Dakota
  • Nevada
  • Michigan
  • Wyoming
  • Minnesota
  • Arizona
  • Iowa
  • Colorado
  • Nebraska
  • Wisconsin

Do I need a college degree to be eligible for CNA training?

No, a college degree is not mandatory to be eligible for CNA training. You can either have your high school degree or GED certificate.