CNA Skills Test Passing Score – How Many Questions Can You Miss?

Here is how you calculate your CNA skills test passing score. This article also explores the skills and tips for passing the CNA skills test.

The CNA skills test, also known as the clinical skills test, forms part of the CNA exam that all aspiring CNAs must pass to become certified and practice in their state.

Can I take the CNA test without going to class? Depending on the state, most states require you to train as a nursing aide before sitting for the CNA exams.

However, a few states waive this criterion. Many CNA programs can prepare you for this exam.

  • How do I prepare for the CNA skills test?

Excelling at the CNA skills test indicates that you’ll perform efficiently at your job.

The CNA skills test can be nerve-racking for many CNA students as they have to prove their competency before an evaluator.

Is the CNA Exam Hard?

With adequate preparation and practice, you can ace your skills test.

Typically, there are about 30 skills a nursing aide will likely be tested on. This skills test covers 3-6 nursing practices that an aspiring CNA must know.

The evaluator can test candidates randomly on any of the skills. Thus, you must learn all the skills to get a better head start. Perhaps you’re wondering what the skills are or how to pass your CNA skills test.

Here are some tips for passing the CNA skills test.

CNA Skills Set List

Handwashing is usually the first skill, but it’s demonstrated alongside other skills. You must master this skill as you might need to wash your hands before and after other skills.

Indirect care: Indirect care encompasses infection control, patient safety, protection, communication, etc.

Measuring blood pressure: A patient’s blood pressure is calculated using a stethoscope and cuff. The patient must extend their arm out for accurate blood pressure readings.

Measuring body temperature: There are three ways to measure body temperature: rectal, oral, and axillary. Technically, the rectal is the most accurate of the three. It’s primarily used for young infants.

Axillary temperature is an alternative for oral and rectal.

Measuring and recording pulse: This skill test helps monitor the chances of blood pressure, heart disease, and other health issues. When checking a patient’s pulse, locate the radial artery under the hollow of the wrist.

Apply pressure with your fingertips to feel the patient’s pulse.

Measuring and recording respiration: Typically, an adult should have an average respiration rate of between 12 and 18 breaths per minute. Fast or slow respiration rates can be due to stress, pain, infection, etc.

Your patient shouldn’t be aware that you’re taking respiration readings. Knowing this can make them self-aware, altering their breathing rhythm.

Measuring the output from a urinary bag: Urinary output is usually between 30-400 ccs per hour. A patient’s urinary output outside this range needs immediate medical attention.

Any abnormalities like cloudy urine, strange odors, and unusual coloration should be reported to medical personnel.

Ambulation with a gait belt: This involves the transfer of a patient from bed to a chair using a gait belt.

Feeding: Many sick patients have little or no appetite; hence, they’ll need help feeding. Nursing students need to know how to provide a patient is a vital skill.

Mouth care: From unconscious patients to elderly patients with dentures, nursing assistants help patients with oral hygiene.

Toileting with a bedpan: Nursing assistants help bedridden patients with placing, emptying, washing, and rising bedpan.

Hand and nail care: You can assist patients in cleaning and trimming their nails.

Foot care is an essential skill aspiring nurses may likely take for granted. Like every skill, you must get acquainted with this procedure.

Transferring to a wheelchair: Older adults and those with mobility issues may have difficulty moving around. Nursing assistants learn to move patients from bed to chair using a transfer belt.

Changing an occupied bed: Nursing assistants can help make the bed while patients lie down.

Perineal care (female and male) encompasses cleaning genitals and rectal. The procedure is best done after incontinence, bathing, or bedpan use. Perineal helps to prevent urinary tract infection (UTI).

Partial bed bath: Unconscious patients or patients having mobility issues may require bed baths for support.

Dressing a resident with a weak arm: Patients with weak or broken arms have difficulty changing their clothes. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) help to wrap patients’ arms.

Range of motion exercises (shoulder, elbow, wrist): The nursing assistant takes the patient through activities targeted at the upper limbs.

Range of motion exercises (hip, knee, ankle): These exercises aimed at the lower limbs aid movement of hips, toes, ankles, etc.

Fowler’s position: This procedure is used for patients with breathing problems. Fowler’s work helps to relax the abdominal muscles and support respiration.

Catheter care: The nursing student must clean the catheter and drainage bag daily. Furthermore, they must ensure the patient isn’t uncomfortable during the procedure.

Applying elastic support stockings: These stockings promote blood circulation to the lower parts of the patient’s legs.

Body positions (supine, prone, lateral): These are the different positions to place patients. Nurses need to know the various positions to attend to patients’ needs.

How Many Can You Miss on the CNA Skills Test?

So, how is the CNA skills test graded?

  • Aspiring nurses can take the CNA skills test thrice within two years of completing their CNA program.
  • Depending on the provider, the CNA skills test can take between 25 and 30 minutes to complete.
  • The passing score for the CNA skills test is between 70% and 80%. However, this varies from one state to another. Also, not all steps are scored equally.

Tips to Pass Your CNA Skills Test

Maximize the training

Ensure you make the most of your training. Follow your instructor’s teaching to the letter. Ask questions when necessary. Also, get acquainted with all the skills.

Find out about the requirements for your state. Each state has its prerequisite for the test. Knowing about these requirements will help you prepare best for the evaluation.


It’s often said that practice makes perfect. This seems true as constant exercise boosts proficiency. Please create a list of skills you’ll likely be tested on and practice them on someone, maybe friends or relatives.

You can also look up the internet for video lessons on some of these skills. Self-assessment quizzes are effective learning aids that help you master these skills.

In addition, learn how to take and record blood pressure measurements, weight, urine output, radial pulse, etc. To boost retention, maximize the use of flashcards.

Adopt an efficient study method.

Studying smart is the new cool. The pace at which everyone learns differs from one person to another. Audio and visual resources support learning and retention.

Find out about your best medium of learning. This will help effective studying. You can look up websites and YouTube videos for study aids.

If you have limited time to study for a test, consider using flashcards. Flashcards are small note cards with a prompt on one side and information about the prompt on the other.

If you want to be held accountable, you can join study groups. Study groups are an effective strategy that boosts learning.

Dress professionally

Your appearance must ooze confidence. Dress like a competent CNA. I guess you want to leave a lasting impression on your evaluator. Wear clean, bright scrubs and clinical shoes.

Ensure your nails are short and clean, with your hair tied appropriately. Keep finely trimmed nails. Avoid wearing earrings and studs. This doesn’t depict a professional look.

Find out about the requirements for your state.

Skills tests vary from state to state depending on the examination board and requirements. You may be tested on more or fewer skills, considering the condition. Virtually all states prioritize the handwashing procedure.

This is because handwashing helps in infection control. If you fail this step, you’ve forgotten the entire test. Ensure you practice the handwashing skill regularly to enhance sound performance.

Regular practice makes you adept and accustomed to the procedure.

Prepare for the big day.

It’s okay to be nervous on your exam day. Don’t let it get the best of you. Ensure you arrive at the venue early. Review your study notes and revision cards. Be calm during the examination.

Typically, every skill begins with introducing yourself, explaining the process, and handwashing. You’ll do well in other skills if you can recall these preliminary steps.

Perhaps you made an error or missed a step; inform the evaluator immediately. Discover the missed step and make all necessary corrections.

With a passing score of 80%, you might want to ace the test, doing excellently well. Remember that passing the test is as important as knowing all the steps and paying attention to the patient.

Read information carefully

While you’ll be tested on 3-6 skills, be sure you read and understand the information regarding your test. Please read it carefully for easy comprehension.

Also, go through the study guide for a clear understanding.

Ask questions

If you have difficulty grasping the CNA skills, you should ask questions before exams commence.

Once the evaluation begins, you won’t be able to ask questions. Seek clarity concerning any area or skills that seem confusing. Don’t be scared to ask for help.

You should know all the tips required to ace your skills test. It’s about time you put the knowledge into use. Ensure you study the resources for an in-depth understanding of the test.

I wish you the best in your test.