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CNA State Exam

The nurse aide assessment examination is also known as the national nurse aide assessment program (NNAAP). The written portion takes about two hours and gives candidates 50 or more multiple-choice questions. However, the time and number of questions varies from state to state, and some states ask up to 70 questions. A Spanish-version is optional, as is a verbally delivered version.

Pearson VUE is one of the agencies that administer the test and lists skills that CNAs can expect to have to know for the computer-based test. These include

  • Storage and cleaning of patient dentures
  • Caring for a patient’s catheter
  • Oral hygiene and care
  • Foot, fingernail and perineal hygiene and care
  • Helping a client move in bed and out of bed
  • Basic hand washing and sanitary concepts
  • Helping a client wear elastic stockings and other clothing
  • Preparing and removing a bedpan
  • Taking a patient’s pulse on their wrist, counting their breathing rate and recording this information
  • Protecting one’s self from infection
  • Making a bed while someone is lying in it and unable to move
  • Using a sphygmomanometer to take a patient’s blood pressure
  • Recognizing and using common medical terminology and abbreviations
  • Reading the results from a thermometer
  • Feeding a client and encouraging good nutritional habits
  • Recording a patient’s weight • Recording a patient’s urinary and stool output
  • Draining a used catheter bag
  • Effective use of protective gear, like globes
  • Bathing a patient in bed

Here is some sample questions taken from the NNAAP Nurse AID study guide: Which of these common stages of dying is typically the last?

A Depression
B Acceptance
C Bargaining
D Anger

If bed linens are cleaned and brought to a patient’s room but have not been used, what should you do with them?

A Put them back in the linen closet
B Hand them to the LPN or RN in charge
C Place them in the laundry hamper
D Use them for a different patient

A pressure sore can often first be noticed by?

A Swelling
B Coldness
C Numbness
D Discoloration

The practical portion of the exam is hands-on skill assessment for which the proctor can choose from 25 skills relevant to a nursing assistant position. The assessment might be conducted in a classroom or care a facility, with actual equipment (and sometimes real people) being used for the demonstration. The assessment is timed (25 to 30 minutes is typical) and the proctor will be looking for many things. Among them are good posture (to prevent CNAs from injuring themselves in the line of duty), good hygiene, quick and thoughtful response, good attitude and knowledge of protocol and medical terminology.


Activities to be performed may include taking a patient’s blood pressure or temperature (in one of several possible ways), washing hands properly, dressing a patient, changing a bedpan, sterilizing medical equipment or helping a patient move from a bed to a wheelchair.

There are many online resources to help prepare for the exam, and in many cases, the hospital, nursing home or care facility will have staff happy to help candidates prepare, as it is in everybody’s interest to ensure the CNA is able to pass the exam and apply for a certificate or license.

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