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CNA State Test

Hi Everyone!

I just started my CNA class this week. I'm really excited to learn everything, but I'm also a little nervous about all the skills we have to learn. I have a few questions. First, what skills did you get tested on? We just learned Partial Bath today. For the test, would you just wash the face, arms and legs? I'm also confused about Perineal care for the test. You have a partner, so would you actually do it on your partner? Finally, what worked best for you when studying for the skills?

Thanks for all your help!!

Hello! I just took my state exam last week. There are 24 skills ranging from bed baths to cleaning dentures to giving fingernail care. What worked best for me was writing out all the steps of each skill (even though we got a pamphlet, writing helps me remember things!) and then practicing on my friends and (lol) my stuffed animals (haha I know). I would take a few skills at a time and then practice them until I didn't miss a step. You can find every skill on YouTube if you search "CNA Skills" or "CNA skill _____" (and put whatever the skill is, say "assisting with the use of a bedpan." Just be careful with these videos because they aren't always correct (look for ones with the most views...there is a really good series of videos made in North Carolina that have all 24 skills). Overall, the best way to learn them is to just practice doing them. Even if you don't have all of the supples at home, you can improvise! For example, I practiced cleaning my retainer in place of dentures, etc. It also helps to say each step out loud as you do it, then redo the whole skill if you miss something.

As for the written portion of the skills exam, you can find sample questions online. If you pay attention in class you should be fine. Ask questions and be an active participant because you'll get the most out of class time that way. You can find tips for taking vitals online too (quite a few I found on allnurses.com!), such as feeling for the tendon on the underside of your wrist (thumb-side) and sliding your fingers over to the bone to feel for the radial pulse ;)

When I took my test the examiner was very nice and really wanted us to succeed. It's okay if you miss a couple steps (as long as they aren't the critical steps...pay attention to these! Your teacher should point them out, but they are usually safety steps like being sure to lock the bed/wheelchair before moving someone, making sure they have shoes on, etc.) If you do miss a step, you may be allowed to say so ("I should have provided privacy," for example). I found that once I practiced the skills enough a lot of them had very similar steps "First I wash my hands, then I explain the proceedure and provide privacy." You get the idea :)

You asked about the partial bed bath. For that skill we just had to wash the face and one arm (including armpit). In my exam the other student was doing this on me (but the examiner said he could just pretend to wash my face since I had makeup on lol). For skills like perineal care you would do them on a maniquin (don't worry, you won't have to be a dummy for anything like that!!)

Oh and try to submit your paperwork as soon as you can after completing your class so you can get scheduled to take the test before you forget everything! That happened to me. I finished the class in March but I kept sending in my paperwork wrong so I had to wait 2 and a half months! And then I had to re-learn everything...ugh.

Good luck to you in your class!! Hope my novel helped haha


Specializes in Breast Cancer, Oncology, Pulmonology.

Hi sweetie_pie,

Thanks for such a long post. I have a question about the bedpan skill- when do you actually put the gloves on? when you first get the pan (assuming it's dirty already?) Do you set the pan down anywhere to cover the pt up before leaving them to "dump" the pan? Thank u!

I am challenging the exam and haven't practiced skills in over 5yrs!!

Thanks for your help :)

the bedpan shouldn't be dirty when you first bring it to the client, but in short, yes you put on gloves before handling the bedpan (both times! so you change gloves 2x). also, you avoid exposing the client as much as possible when removing the bedpan (i had this skill for my exam and i lifted the blanket with one hand and removed the bedpan from under my patient with the other, he could move himself) so there is no going back and forth and leaving the patient exposed -- you shouldn't do that! :)

here's the long version with all the steps:

1. wash your hands

2. explain the procedure

3. provide privacy

4. lower the head of the bed

5. put on gloves

6. place the bedpan under the patient

7. remove gloves and wash hands

8. raise the head of the bed

9. make sure toilet paper and hand wipes are within the patient's reach and tell them to use the hand wipes when they are finished

10. call light within reach and tell client to signal you when finished

11. (when signaled) wash hands and put on clean gloves

12. lower the head of the bed

13. avoid overexposure of the client when you remove the bedpan

14. "dump" contents of the bedpan into the toilet

15. rinse and place the bedpan in the dirty supply area

16. remove gloves and wash your hands

17. call light within reach

good luck challenging your exam!! :)


Specializes in Breast Cancer, Oncology, Pulmonology.

Thank you! Did you have to gather your own supplies, and if so, did you set them on the table?

I've have been trying to watch youtube videos, but like you mentioned in your previous post, not all are correct in the way they're performing skills- I just try to match it up to the NNAAP book as best I can.

I think I am most nervous about not retrieving the correct supplies since the book does not state what we need to perform the skill. Other than that, I will write out the steps like you suggested and practice! ( on Teddy bear) ;)

Thanks again for your help and input, much appreciated! :)

Hahahaha teddy bears to make great patients! They never complain about ANYTHING!! ;) When I took the test the supplies were close by and we were able to go back and forth if we needed to. It's better to grab it all if you can, and you can just put them on the bedside table. A good rule of them is if there is water involved just put a towel down on the table before you put your supplies on it :)


Specializes in Breast Cancer, Oncology, Pulmonology.

Thank you for your help! I'm worried about running out of time when performing the skills, will they fail you if that's the case? Also, are the 5 testing skills on an index card you draw?

Yes, most likely, but don't worry about the time, really. Just concentrate on going slow enough so you don't mess up! My examiner set her stopwatch for 20 minutes so we would know when we only had 5 minutes left, however she said it doesn't normally take anyone that long. When I took mine I finished in 17 minutes and the other student I was testing with finished in 13. It just depends on which skills you are given (some take longer than others!) As for distributing the skills, everyone has hand washing as one (simple!) and then a measurement (counting respirations, pulse, B/P or recording output), plus 3 others (check your candidate handbook to be sure, but I'm pretty certain this is standard procedure). The examiner's book has the skills all split up into groups and you are assigned a group of skills (I think it is done this way out of fairness so that one person doesn't get all the quick and easy skills and another gets all of the long, more difficult skills!) When are you taking the exam?


Specializes in Breast Cancer, Oncology, Pulmonology.

Thanks for replying! I am testing 7/21 at 7AM! I know for sure we are all tested on hand washing and one measurement; I'm just nervous about the others like bedpan, bedbath, peri/cath care! yikes!!

Do you work in a hospital now as a CNA? I haven't practiced CNA skills in over 5 years!!

Hi all, I just got my letter telling me when to report for my state exam, July 14th at 0900. My wife doesn't know it but she is going to be practiced on so much for the next 3 weeks. One of my classmates took her test already and her skills test consisted of foot bath and turning a patient onto their side. That was it!! I was amazed that was all she had to do. Wish me luck!!!

Hi all, I just got my letter telling me when to report for my state exam, July 14th at 0900. My wife doesn't know it but she is going to be practiced on so much for the next 3 weeks. One of my classmates took her test already and her skills test consisted of foot bath and turning a patient onto their side. That was it!! I was amazed that was all she had to do. Wish me luck!!!

Good luck to you, Animal - in my case, I got radial pulse, modified lateral & back rub, plus the mandatory handwashing (took mine through the Red Cross in California). Some people got tougher skills, some easier - here, it's luck of the draw as to which skills you get.

Really, for the most part the examiners aren't looking at whether you do the skills letter-perfect, what they're looking for is whether you're putting the patient at risk or not. So...try to make sure that you lock the bed brakes, side rails properly placed, etc. and if you mess up - 'fess up.

Other than that - just hope the missus doesn't object TOO much to being an involuntary patient! :madface: Since I didn't have an available test "victim" I made do with an old GI Joe doll - passed on the first try.

----- Dave


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