The Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) credentials certified nursing assistants within the state. A candidate for certification must pass the state CNA exam administered by Headmaster, LLC. A new nurse assistant graduate has up to 6 months or three attempts after completing an approved training program to pass the test. Montana will allow a candidate to challenge the exam without completing a nurse aide training program. However, the challenger has one attempt to pass the exam. If the candidate fails, he/she will need to enroll in a state-approved nurse aide program before reapplying to take the test. A successful challenger may need to undergo an evaluation, from a licensed nurse at the employing agency, of all the skills on the state curriculum.
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How to Apply for the Montana CNA Exam
An individual who has not completed an approved nursing assistant training program has the option to challenge the state CNA exam. The Montana Department of Health and Human Services grants three attempts within 6 months to candidates who have successfully completed an approved training program. A candidate is no longer eligible to test based on training if applying for the state exam more than 6 months after the training program.
An individual who decides to challenge the exam has one attempt to pass. After successfully passing the exam, the candidate is eligible to apply to the MT DPHHS for certification as a nursing assistant. However, if the candidate fails the exam, he/she must successfully complete a nursing assistant program before reapplying to take the test.
To apply as a new nursing assistant:
- Complete the Montana Testing Application – Form 1101.
- Complete the Montana Payment and Scheduling Form – 1402 if you’re paying for the test on your own.
- Submit the application, payment form, and test fee to Headmaster.
- Enclose a copy of your certificate of program completion.
To challenge the exam:
- Complete the Montana Testing Application – Form 1101 and check “Challenge” on the application.
- Submit the Testing Application to the facility if your employer is paying for the exam.
- The facility will submit the fee and application to Headmaster.
Look out for your notification letter from Headmaster, which will include guidelines for contacting an RN Test Observer to arrange a test date and time. Your test materials will be sent to the appropriate RN Test Observer for the administration of the state exam. Make sure you arrange a test date within two weeks of receiving the Test Observer’s contact. If you do not schedule a date, you will be considered a “no show” and your test fee will be forfeited.
If you need to reschedule a new test date, after arranging an initial date, contact the Test Observer at least one business day before the scheduled exam. Insufficient notice will be considered a no-show, and your fee will be forfeited. There is a $20 fee to reschedule the exam.
You may cancel the exam, indicating that you no longer want to take the CNA exam, at a cost of $20. The cancellation fee will be deducted from your application fee and the balance will be refunded.
The established testing fees in Montana are as follows:
- Knowledge test or retest – $20.00
- Oral knowledge test or retest – $31.00
- Skills test or retest – $77.00
- Priority fax service – $5.00
- Overnight shipping – $39.50
- Express service fee – $15.00
- Cancellation fee – $20.00
- Test review fee – $25.00
- No show – no refund
Headmaster accepts payment via money order, cashier’s check, facility check, or credit card.
Your employer must submit your application and fee if you’re employed or receive an offer of employment at the time of testing. Input your social security number on the Payment Form 1402, so your payment can be correctly applied. Fees are valid for 6 months or until your training expires.
CNA Exam Overview Montana
Certification as a CNA in Montana is based on your demonstration of your competency to provide safe and efficient care. The approved way to do is to pass the CNA competency exam, which comprises of a Knowledge (written or oral) test and a Skills evaluation. After passing the exam, you can apply to the DPHSS for certification. New nursing assistant graduates have three attempts within 6 months to pass the exam. An individual who has not completed state approved training can also apply to take the exam under the challenge route, but must pass the exam on the first attempt.
The Written Exam
The RN Test Observer will hand out the test materials and read instructions for taking the Knowledge exam. The test is 90 minutes and contains 72 questions. You will be informed 15 minutes before the time expires. You must provide your answers on the answer sheet; markings in the test booklet do not count. A few sites will deliver the exam electronically by a computer connected to the internet. The WebETest allows for faster delivery of your results as the test is submitted for scoring the next business day.
Each candidate will have a different test. The 72 multiple-choice questions will be assigned according to the categories laid out in the Montana test plan. The subject areas are outlined in the Candidate Handbook and include disease process, basic nursing skills, communication, infection control, safety, and resident rights.
An audio version of the test, called an Oral exam, is available at online test sites. If you need to take the Oral exam due to difficulty reading English, you must request it at the time of the application. There’s a small additional fee to take the Oral exam. At the test site, you’ll read the questions on the computer, but you can as listen, using headphones attached to the computer. Control buttons on the screen will let you forward or rewind as needed.
Removal of test materials from the test site is a violation that is subject to prosecution and will be reported to the DPHSS.
The Skills Exam
The complete list of skills tasks with the key steps highlighted is in the Candidate Handbook. Your five tasks will be selected from the Skills List; Hand washing will be one of the skills assigned and the other four will be selected randomly. You must score 80% on each task, without missing any key steps, to pass the exam. The RN Test Observer will read a scenario for each task assigned – you can request to have any of the scenarios repeated if you need to. You’ll have 35 minutes to complete all five tasks. If you make a mistake, you may repeat any step any time during the allotted time. You must physically perform each step as verbal expressions are not scored.
What To Bring To The Exam
You should arrive at the test site 20 to 30 minutes your scheduled test to check-in and have your identification verified. You must take a signed, government issued form of identification that bears your photo. Examples include a driver’s license, military ID, alien registration card, state ID card, tribal ID, or work authorization card. An expired ID will not be accepted. You also need to take your social security card. The name on your ID must match the name entered in the MT Nursing Assistant database by the training provider or Headmaster – from your application. If your ID is invalid or your name does not match the name on record, you will not be admitted to the exam room and you will be considered a no-show.
If you’re taking a paper test, you’ll need to take at least two number 2 pencils and eraser to take the test. Dress appropriately in clinical attire, such as scrubs and non-skid shoes, for the skills exam.
You cannot take cell phones, books, study materials, large handbags, and electronic items into the exam room.
Receiving Your Scores
If you pass the Knowledge test and Skills evaluation, Headmaster will send your results to MT DPHHS. The DPHHS will send your certificate if you meet all other requirements for certification. If you fail one or both tests, you must reapply to take the test(s) you failed. The failure notification letter will outline guidelines for reapplying for the test. If you took the test using the Challenge route, you will not be eligible to retest until you complete an approved training program.
You can check your results after 6:00 pm Mountain Time on www.hdmaster.com on the same day the exam is scored. WebETest results will be available the next business day, and paper exam results are available 3 to 5 business days after the test event.
Contact the Registry
Montana Nurse Aide Registry
2401 Colonial Drive, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 202953
Helena, MT 59620
3310 McHugh Lane
P.O. Box 6609
Helena, MY 59604-6609
Phone: (800) 393-8664
Fax: (406) 442-3357