How to Prepare for the Certified Nursing Assistant State Exam

CNA Certification / CNA Training

How to Prepare for the Certified Nursing Assistant State Exam

Preparing for a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) examination requires a combination of studying and skills preparation. Here are some steps you can take to prepare:

Review the CNA Exam Content

Familiarize yourself with the exam content and format by reviewing the CNA exam study guide. You can find this guide on the website of the organization that administers the exam in your state. You should review your textbook and/or workbook to complete additional study questions to prepare for the knowledge examination. Remember to focus on key chapters including, but not limited to: vital signs, abuse, patient procedures, safety, and key medical terminology.

Study the Material

Use textbooks, online resources, and study guides to review the material covered in the exam. Make sure you understand key concepts, such as infection control, vital signs, and patient hygiene.

  • Plan to take several state specific practice tests. Take practice exams to assess your knowledge and identify areas where you need improvement.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to study!
  • Plan to have a day off of work to allow for unplanned circumstances.
  • Plan to attend additional practice skill labs to familiarize yourself with the equipment.

Consider attending a CNA review course offered by a nursing school or training center. These courses can help you review key concepts and provide additional test-taking tips.

*Click below to Schedule a free skills practice session*

Manage Test Anxiety

Manage your test anxiety by getting enough sleep, eating well, and taking breaks during your study sessions. Consider using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or visualization to help calm your nerves before the exam.

What should you bring on the day of the CNA Exam?

To be allowed to test you must have the following items:

a. Your Original 283B form OR CDPH 932 form. (Copies will not be accepted)

b. Your Original social security card (receipts from social security office, photocopies, or laminated cards will not be accepted)

c. A valid government issued photo ID (state driver’s license, state ID, military ID, or passports will be accepted. Photocopies or receipts will not be accepted.

d. Face mask (Any surgical or cloth face mask, including a homemade face mask, is acceptable as long as your nose and mouth are fully covered.)

e. (Credentia/Regional Testing Center Only) Bring a self-addressed stamped envelope as your results/score reports will be mailed to you within 24 hours of the test, you should expect results/score reports within 7 to 10 business days.

Reschedule Fee for Written/Oral and Skills Examination (Applies for all missed/absent/cancelled exams). If you fail to bring any of the items listed above or your names do not match, you will be asked to reschedule your exam for another day. A rescheduling fee will be required.

Frequently Asked Questions AFTER CNA Testing 

Practice, Practice, Practice! Plan to attend additional skills practice before your scheduled exam.

What if I have not received my results from the test?  

  • Credentia/Regional Testing Center: You will receive your results in the provided self-addressed stamped envelope you provided. If you do not receive them in 2-weeks, you may request a copy from the testing company, Credentia, Email:  Ask for duplicate scores. Note: If you did not provide an accurate address or postage, or readable mailing address, you may not receive your results. Use a letter sized envelope, one stamp for each attempt at the state test.  
  • D & S Headmaster: Call the Customer Service Number: 1-800-393-8664

What if I failed the written, the skills, or both? 

You will only need to repeat the portion of the test you did not pass. If you failed any portion of your test, you need to reschedule with another application/ registration. You must also bring the original 283B.

Why haven’t I received my certification from the state yet? 

Your certificate is issued by the California Department of Public Health; please contact them with any questions you may have about your license. Do not contact any sooner than 30 days. Call them after 30 days if you have not received your certificate. (Click Here L&C Verification Search Page). Once you appear on the site with a certification number, you may print this as proof for employers or schools. It may take 60-90 days for the Department of Public Health to receive your test scores, process them, and mail you your license.

CDPH’s contact information: Phone: (916) 327-2445 or Email: 


If you call them and you are not processed, they will give you one of three responses: 

  1. They did not receive your initial 283B application (call your school) 
  2. They do not have your fingerprint clearance yet (contact DOJ) 
  3. They do not have your scores (contact Regional Testing Center) 
Practice skills such as taking vital signs, providing personal care, and performing other tasks that will be required on the exam. You can practice these skills in a nursing home or with a clinical instructor.

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