How to Retake the CNA Test

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

careertrend article image
Scrub Nurse image by Mary Beth Granger from

Every day in hospitals and clinics around the country, CNAs (clinical nursing assistants) perform daily tasks that help patients on their road to recovery, such as bathing, assisting with ambulation, repositioning, and recording blood pressure. To become a CNA, you must pass the certifying exam within two years of completing a nurse's aid program. If you are in the midst of this process, and you've failed the exam once, there are opportunities for you to retake it and move forward with your career.

Speak directly to your program coordinator about your desire to retake the exam. The CNA certifying exam is administered by state boards of nursing. If you need to contact your state board, a directory is maintained by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (see Resources)

Determine whether you are eligible to retake the exam without retraining. With a few exceptions, state boards permit a student to attempt the exam three times in the two years following completion of the program. If you passed one of the components (i.e., the written or the skills portion) then you are only required to retake that section. Conversely, failing both requires you to retake both sections. If you fail the test three times, you must retake your nursing training program before making another attempt.

Focus on the portions of the exam that you did not pass. For example, if terminology is your weakness, practice daily drills on such terms as Fowler's position, ADL, and TKA. To practice skills, group study sessions with fellow students can be useful. Use a practice test such as the one created by the National Nurse Aid Assessment Program or connect with the CNA community online (see Resources).