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How to Pass the Skills Test on the CNA Exam

by Maria Magher, studioD

Certified nursing assistants provide basic patient care, such as taking vital signs, changing bed linens and giving sponge baths. Aspiring CNAs must complete a professional training course, which can last as little as a couple of months, then pass a two-part certification exam. The first part of the exam consists of multiple-choice questions that assess healthcare knowledge. The second part of the exam is a skills test in which students must demonstrate the ability to perform basic patient care practices.

Practice Known Skills to be Tested

The skills test includes five tasks chosen from a list of more than two dozen. Some of the skills that may be tested include moving a patient from a bed to a wheelchair, helping a patient use a bed pan, putting compression stockings on a patient, giving a patient a bath in bed and providing oral hygiene care. Practicing the specific skills that could be tested with your family, friends and classmates will increase your confidence and reduce the likelihood of skipping any important steps on test day.

Take Time with Basic Skills

Students can easily score points by mastering the basic skills that are included in every test. All skills tests start with proper hand washing procedure, which should be done right after greeting the patient. Students are also tested on their interactions with patients, which occurs in each task. Students are expected to be professional and courteous to patients, while also protecting their privacy. Students should include hand washing and patient relations as a part of every skills practice to prepare for the test.

Listen to Each Scenario Carefully

The examiner will read a scenario for each of the five tasks on the skills exam. Once you begin performing the task, you will not have the option to ask any questions, so it is important to listen carefully to the instructions and to ask as many questions as necessary before you begin to make sure you are performing the right task. If you do not understand the task expected, you risk performing the wrong skills and failing the exam. Students must complete each task correctly in order to pass the exam.

Repeat Tasks as Necessary

Students can request to repeat any scenario at any time during their skills test. Students who believe they have made a mistake can ask to repeat a task or any of the steps in it. Since students must perform all five tasks correctly to pass the exam, this is an important opportunity for students to make sure that they have gotten all the tasks right. Students have a maximum of 45 minutes to complete all the tasks, so it is important that students act quickly if they feel they need to repeat any steps.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

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