You can't apply for jobs as a CNA, or Certified Nursing Assistant, without earning your certification. Although some employers hire nursing assistants who aren't technically CNAs, they pay a lot less and don't usually offer many advancement opportunities. You can't earn your certification without taking the CNA licensing exam, so it's easy to feel like a lot is on the line. A great way to ease your fears about the exam is by learning as much about it as possible. Familiarize yourself with the CNA exam before you even start your learning for good results.
Eligibility requirements for taking the CNA exam vary by state. However, you usually need to be at least 16 years old, and you need to have completed a CNA program. The program must be approved by the state, or you may not be allowed to sit for the exam. An exam fee is required as well, and it's usually around $100. You must provide photo ID - sometimes two types - on the day of the test, so make sure you have everything you need too.
Why Must You Take the Exam?
You've probably run into nursing assistants who don't have their CNA certifications. They may tell you that you really don't need to take the CNA licensing exam, but you shouldn't listen to them. First, having your certification shows employers you are serious about this line of work. Second, CNAs command higher pay. Finally, the schooling you undergo to obtain your certification will come in handy later if you decide to progress into different nursing roles.
What to Expect From the CNA Certification Test
A great way to allay your fears about sitting for the CNA test is by learning as much about it as you can. The test is usually split into two sections: a written section and a clinical skills section:
- Multiple-Choice Question Section - You can expect the written section of the exam to consist of around 70 multiple-choice questions. They will span a broad array of topics, including nutrition, hygiene, and workplace conduct. You can get a feel for the types of questions you will be asked by looking at practice exams online. Because they are multiple choice, you can often eliminate clearly incorrect answers to more easily identify the correct ones.
- Clinical Skills Section - This is the section that most exam takers dread. In it, you must demonstrate proficiency in five to seven crucial CNA skills. You must demonstrate them on a volunteer subject, and you may also be observed by a test officiant. The skills you must demonstrate may include bathing patients, dressing patients, changing and making beds, taking blood pressure, and caring for catheters. Like the written section, this one is timed. By practicing your clinical skills extensively before the exam, however, you'll find you have more than enough time.
As long as you study hard and make the most of your CNA education, you should pass the licensing exam without too much trouble. Even if you don't, however, it's not the end of the world. You typically only have to retake the section you failed. If you failed the clinical skills sections, though, you will have to retake the entire section - you can't just retake the skill that you performed incorrectly.
All of the hours of studying and schooling will pay off when you pass the CNA licensing exam, earn your license, and find your first job.