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CNA Exam Overview

The CNA exam is used to validate a candidate’s skills and grant them certification to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. You must pass your exam to become a CNA.

This exam is unique because there are 3 different providers (NNAAP, Prometric, and Headmaster). Each provider applies some slight differences to the exam. However, the exam tests the same concepts (regardless of who your provider is).

What is On the CNA Exam?

The CNA test has 2 parts:

  1. Written Test
  2. Skills Test

The written test is like other exams you have taken in the past. The number of questions you are asked will depend on who the provider of your exam is (between 60 and 70).

The skills test is where you will demonstrate your clinical skills in a realistic scenario in front of an evaluator.

You can practice for your written test by taking our free CNA practice test. You can practice for your skills test by reviewing our guide on CNA skills.

CNA Exam Providers by State

Before we dive into what is on each specific CNA exam, you need to figure out who the provider is for your state. The table below shows the providers for each state.

District of ColumbiaHawaiiNevada
Mariana IslandsNew MexicoMinnesota
MarylandNew YorkMissouri
North CarolinaTexasNew Jersey
Pennsylvania North Dakota
Rhode Island Ohio
South Carolina Oklahoma (LTC / HHA)
Virginia Oregon
Virgin Islands South Dakota
Washington Tennessee


The NNAAP CNA exam is a common exam given. It consists of:

  1. Written Test: 70 Multiple-Choice Questions. 2 Hour Time Limit.
  2. Skills Test: Live Demonstration of 5 CNA Skills.

NNAAP Written Test Outline

Topic% of Exam# of Questions
I. Physical Care Skills  
A. Activities of Daily Living14%9
B. Basic Nursing Skills39%23
C. Restorative Skills8%5
II. Psychosocial Care Skills  
A. Emotional and Mental Health Needs11%6
B. Spiritual and Cultural Needs2%2
III. Role of the Nurse Aide  
A. Communication8%4
B. Client Rights7%4
C. Legal and Ethical Behavior3%2
D. Member of the Health Care Team8%5


The Skills portion of the NNAAP exam will ask you to complete 5 randomly selected tasks from a set of predetermined skills that you should know. You will have 25 minutes to complete.

For a complete list of skills, read our CNA skills overview guide.

Prometric CNA Exam

The Prometric CNA exam is similar to the NNAAP exam. It consists of:

  1. Written Test: 60 Multiple-Choice Questions. 90 Minute Time Limit.
  2. Skills Test: Live Demonstration of 5 CNA Skills.

Prometric Written Test Outline

TopicPercent of Exam
Role of the Nurse Aide18%
Promotion of Safety18%
Promotion of Function and Health of Residents24%
Basic Nursing Care Provided by the Nurse Aide26%
Providing Specialized Care for Residents with Changes in Health14%


The skills portion of the Prometric exam is very similar to the skills portion for the NNAAP exam. You can practice for this exam by using our CNA practice test.

Headmaster CNA Exam

The Headmaster CNA exam is also similar to the other two providers. It consists of:

  1. Written Test: 60 Multiple-Choice Questions. 60 Minute Time Limit.
  2. Skills Test: Live Demonstration of 5 CNA Skills.

Headmaster Written Test Outline

TopicNumber of Questions
Aging Process and Restorative Care2
Basic Nursing Skills8
Care Impaired3
Data Collection2
Disease Process7
Infection Control4
Mental Health4
Personal Care4
Resident Rights6
Role and Responsibility9

The topics and number of questions may vary for different states. Source.

The skills portion of the Headmaster exam is similar to the others. Again, you can review those CNA skills to be best prepared.

CNA Exam Requirements

The requirements will vary from state to state. However, there are some requirements that many states share. Some common requirements include:

  • Completion of a state approved training program
  • Have a minimum number of training hours
  • Pass the written and skills exams

Scoring of the CNA Exam

Passing scores for the exam will vary from state to state. You should be aiming for a score of 80% or higher. Most states typically set their passing rates between 75% and 80%.

For the skills test, you will either “pass” or “fail” the skill that you are being tested for. You will need to pass 5 of the skills to pass that portion of the exam.

You can expect to receive your scores within a couple of hours of finishing the exam (via email). Some states will mail out your scores.

After passing both exams, you will be added to the state nurse aide registry in your respective state.

If you failed your exam, do not fret. You can retake the CNA exam. Each state has their own rules, but you can typically retake the exam up to 3 times within a 2-year period.

What Costs are Associated with the CNA Exam?

As with most exams, there will be a testing fee. It will vary depending on your provider and which state you are in, but you can expect to pay between $90 and $100 to take the exam.

The biggest cost associated with the exam is the state approved training program. Many programs charge tuition fees per credit hour. You may end up paying between $1,000 and $5,000 to complete your program.

Preparing for the Exam

Preparing for any exam can be difficult, but this exam can feel especially daunting, as it is often the first step in your medical career. Luckily, there are several things you can do to make sure you are fully prepared on test day:

  • Research: Research your exam provider, and understand the kinds of questions that will be asked of you.
  • Plan Accordingly: Know when your test date is, and plan your study sessions over a period of time.
  • Use Practice Exams: Take advantage of CNA practice exams. These are a great way to test yourself and familiarize yourself with course content.

Common Questions About the CNA Exam

The CNA exam is an exam for those who wish to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. It is made up of 2 parts:

  1. Written Test
  2. Skills Test

The exam is given by 3 different providers (depends on your state).

The CNA exam is for people who are beginning their career in the medical field and who wish to become a nursing assistant. Many CNAs go on to become certified nurses, doctors, and specialists.

The exam typically costs between $90 and $100. It will vary depending on your state.

The exam does not have set test dates like the SAT or ACT. The exam is given year round and can be completed at various testing sites. Some states and programs even let you take the exam online.

Yes, most states require you to complete a state approved CNA program before you can sit for the exam.

You should be aiming for a score of 80% or higher on the written test. The passing score varies by state and program, but typically varies from 75% to 80%.

For the skills test, you will need to “pass” all 5 skills you are asked to do.

Yes. You must take both sections of the exam in order to pass.

Yes. All of the written questions are multiple-choice.

Jan Olson
Dr. Jan Olson has her Bachelor's degree in nursing, Master's degree in nursing, and Doctorate in nursing.