Taking the CNA Exam California

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As a part of the process to become a CNA in California, you must apply for and pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam after completing a state-approved nursing assistant program. The California Department of Health will grant successful candidates certification to work as a CNA.

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There are two options to demonstrate your competency as a Nurse Aide in California. The NNAAP is available at test sites in the Northern and Southern Regions throughout the state. Alternatively, you can register for the California Nurse Assistant Competency Examination with the American Red Cross. The ARC has tested more than 350,000 candidates for the skills tests since 1992.

For both options, you must apply for certification after completing a state-approved program – proof required. You must apply for and pass the exam – both components- within two years of completing the training program.

How to Apply for the NNAAP Exam California

The Pearson VUE administered NNAAP exam is managed by Regional Centers that schedule test dates, manage test sites, and coordinate activities of the candidates, Pearson VUE, and Department of Health.

To take the exam, you must:

  • Complete the registration application form.
  • Submit a copy of your approval letter (932 form) with the application to the regional testing center.
  • Submit the exam fee, payable using a cashier’s check or money order – 10 business days before the exam date. The exam fee is non-refundable.
  • Request special accommodation for testing if you qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Explain the type of accommodation and enclose proof of the diagnosed disability.

The Regional Center will schedule you for testing after receiving the application, fee, and required documents. Special accommodations will be available if the COCCC approves your request.

Exam Costs

The established testing fees (after October 1st, 2015) in California are as follows:

  • Written and Skills Evaluation – $100
  • Oral and Skills Evaluation – $115
  • Written Exam re-tests – $35
  • Oral Exam re-tests – $50
  • Skills Evaluation re-tests – $65

You must schedule both the Written/Oral and Skills test on your first attempt. There’s a rescheduling fee of $25 if you cannot make the scheduled test date.

NNAAP Exam Overview California

The NNAAP test comprises of two parts, a Written (or Oral) part and a Skills Evaluation. You must pass both components for inclusion in the California Nurse Aide Registry.

The Written Exam

California candidates demonstrate their comprehension of the different aspects of nurse assisting by their responses to 70 questions on the Written Assessment. All 70 questions are multiple-choice questions divided into three main domains for 2016. The first domain is Physical Care Skills which includes the Activities of Daily Living (14%), Basic Nursing Skills (39%), and Restorative Skills (8%). The second domain assesses Psychosocial Care Skills and covers Emotional and Mental Health Needs (11%) and Spiritual and Cultural Needs (2%). The final domain is based on the Role of the Nurse Aide covering Communication (8%), Client Rights (7%), Legal and Ethical Behavior (3%), and Member of the Health Care Team (8%). The Written Assessment is 2 hours’ long.

The Oral Exam (Alternative)

The Oral alternative to the written exam is designed for persons who have difficulty reading English. The exam contains 60 multiple-choice questions and 10 multiple-choice reading comprehension questions. The candidate will listen to the questions on a cassette tape and follow along in the test booklet. The Oral Exam is 2 hours’ long. To request the Oral Examination, you must do so at the time of application. You cannot request the test at the testing center on exam day.

The Skills Exam

During the Skills Exam, a Nursing Assistant Evaluator will observe as you perform five randomly selected nurse assistant skills. All five skills must be completed in the assigned 25 minutes. For the exam, you must wear flat, slip-on, non-skid shoes, a loose-fitting top with short sleeves that can be rolled up to the shoulder. Inform the Evaluator of any allergies, including food or latex, and limitations of your range of motion. Each skill is broken down into a series of steps that you must know and follow during the evaluation.

The list of skills (25 total) is available in the Candidate’s Handbook. One of the skills will include a measurement skill. Examples include measuring urine output, radial pulse, blood pressure, respiration, or weight.

What To Bring To The Exam

Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time and take:

  • An original social security card.
  • Valid government-issued photo ID with your signature.
  • Application for Nursing Assistant Certification (form 238B) with the original signature of the RN responsible for your training. You can take the CDPH approval letter (932 form) as an alternative.
  • A watch with a second hand.
  • Two #2 pencils (sharpened) and eraser.

Your name on all documents must match your ID and social security exam to be admitted to the exam.

Receiving Your Scores

The score report will be available at the testing center on the same day. In case there are technical difficulties, the Score Report will be mailed to you within 5 to 7 business days after testing. If you fail the exam, the report will provide information on how to retake one or both parts. You must pay a new fee each time you take the exam. You must successfully complete another state-approved training program if you must attempt the exam more than three times.

How to Apply for the Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation California

The NACE, administered by the American Red Cross, is available to California candidates. The evaluation has two parts – the knowledge test, consisting of 60 multiple-choice questions, and the skills test.

To take the exam, you must:

  • Complete the application form and sign the application.
  • Attach documents indicating your eligibility to take the exam. A completed 238B form or 932 form – the CDPH’s approval to take the exam.
  • Pay the exam fee, using a credit card (800-627-7000), money order, or cashier’s check.
  • Request special accommodation for testing if you qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Explain the type of accommodation and enclose proof of the diagnosed disability.

The ARC will schedule a date within 26 days of receiving your application and send written notification in the mail 7 to 10 days before the exam.

Exam Costs

The testing fee for the NACE in California are as follows:

  • Skills and Oral Test – $120
  • Skills and Written Test – $105
  • Skills Retest – $65
  • Written Retest – $40
  • Oral Test – $55

You must schedule both the Written/Oral and Skills test on your first attempt. There’s a rescheduling fee of $30 if you cannot make the scheduled test date.

NACE Exam Overview California

The NACE is a two-part evaluation. You must pass both components for inclusion in the California Nurse Aide Registry.

The knowledge test is two hours (60 multiple-choice questions) and is administered in a group setting. The skills test is administered individually as the Nurse Evaluator assesses your competency skills while you perform four randomly selected skills. You’ll be evaluated on your accurate demonstration of each skill and your attention to the six principles of care. The oral alternative is available if you have difficulty reading English. Like the written exam, it is two hours’ long. Both tests are independent of the other, so if you’ll only have to retake the test you fail if you fail one. Results are available on the same day.

What To Bring To The Exam

Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time and take:

  • Two forms of identification. One must be a valid photo ID. The other ID should show your name and address.
  • A watch with a second hand and an actor for the skills test.
  • Wear appropriate clothing – uniform not necessary.
  • Application for Nursing Assistant Certification (form 238B) with the original signature from the RN responsible for your training, OR
  • A CDPH approval letter (932 form).

Your name on all documents must match your ID and social security exam to be admitted to the exam.

Challenging the NNAAP

If you’re currently enrolled in or recently completed a Registered Nurse, Licensed Vocational Nursing, or Licensed Psychiatric Technician program, you may be eligible to skip the nursing assistant training requirements and challenge the certification exam. Persons with military medical training and foreign-educated nurses may also be eligible to challenge the exam.

To qualify, you should submit the following to ATCS:

  • The completed application form – 283 B.
  • Official sealed transcripts of all related medical A sealed letter on official school letterhead detailing the completion date of the training course and hours completed may be substituted for the official transcript.
  • Evidence of nursing or nursing-related work within the last two years.
  • A copy of the completed request for Live Scan Fingerprinting services.

Contact the Registry

CA Nurse Aide Registry
CNA/HHA/CHT Certification Unit
Licensing and Certification Division
1615 Capitol Avenue, MS 3301
P.O. Box 997416
Sacramento, CA 95899-7416
Phone: 916-327-2445
Fax: 916-552-8785

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