As one of the most random parts of the certification process, the skills section of the Certified Nursing Assistant certification test can cause the most grief for test-takers. Carrying just as much weight as the written section, the skills test requires that the candidate perform a number of random nursing tasks from a larger list of possibilities. The possibilities represent the wide range of possible tasks encountered in the daily conditions of a nursing home. The best way to overcome the challenge of the skills test is to prepare for any and every task that could be thrown at you.
In most states, there are five skills on the test. Some states require that one of the five skills is always hand-washing. As perhaps the most straightforward of skill challenges, washing your hands is a good example of why the skill challenges have many nuances on test day. The test proctor will be watching you closely to monitor your progress through the task and will make notes on every step that you do or do not take. For example, any candidate who does not lather their hands for at least 20 seconds will not pass the challenge. Things like touching the side of the sink or keeping your hands above your elbows will also discredit you. These are little things, but exactly the type of little things that proctors are looking for on test day.
Generally speaking, there are at least 20 skills possible in every state certification test. They all revolve around patient care, but in many different aspects. Communication, measurement, and assistance are all fields for clinical skill. Patient hygiene provides many of the challenges, with skills like denture cleaning, sponge-bathing, and bedpan assistance. Measurement of vital signs is also essential, with skills like measuring weight, blood pressure, breathing, or urinary output all possible on the test. Communication is a less obvious field, but each skill requires that the nurse aide speak openly with the patient. Without equal attention to all aspects of these skills, it will not be possible to get a good score on your skills test.
On the day of the test, it is important to be dressed appropriately in scrubs and flats. The facility should resemble a nursing home or similar work environment. The test-proctor will guide the candidate through the room and show the equipment that is available for use, and it is at this time that the candidate should ask questions and raise concerns. The proctor will assign the skills, and the candidate must perform them in order, paying close attention to each step. If you make a mistake or want to fix something, you must be clear with the proctor and ask for permission to go back. Each task is complete when you say it is, and you cannot go back to fix your performance once you give the go-ahead to your proctor. Practice makes perfect, so get into mental routines before the day of your test to make sure it goes right on the day of your performance.