CNA Exam and Certification Illinois

The increase in the number of elderly people at long-term care facilities raises concerns for the type of care they receive. The Health Care Worker Registry in Illinois lists nurse aides who have demonstrated their competency by passing a certified training program and a competency exam. Prior to placement on the Registry, a candidate must also complete a background check as outlined in the Health Care Worker Background Check Act. The Department of Public Health maintains the Registry and shows training information for certified nursing assistants as well as their current status and any records of abuse, neglect or misconduct.

CNA Classes in IL:

How to Apply for the Illinois CNA Exam

All applications for the nurse aide competency exam must be submitted by an IDPH-approved training provider using a blue/maroon application form. Along with the application form, the provider will submit a typed cover letter bearing the school’s letterhead, completion date and a signature of the instructor or coordinator. A typed roster will indicate the list of applicants who are eligible for testing. The training provider will make forms available only to individuals who have completed the training program.

The candidate for testing must complete a fingerprint background check before applying for the competency exam. Only candidates who have previously failed the exam or deemed as a no-show on a previously scheduled exam are eligible to apply individually. First-time candidates must submit their applications through the training program – if the training occurred less than 12 months before the date of application. Applicants applying for the exam more than 12 months after completing a training program must obtain authorization from the IDPH to take the exam.

Foreign nurses, student nurses, and military-trained medics must obtain authorization and application materials from the IDPH to take the exam.

Special testing arrangements will be available to those who qualify. The training program coordinator must submit a letter stating the accommodations requested and official documentation of the special needs disability. The special needs document must be prepared by a resource services coordinator, the school’s special needs counselor, medical professional or another person who has the background or training to make the determination. Examples of special arrangement needs are a reader (live person), separate testing area, enlarged type, extended time, or electronic media.

The testing service will mail a testing confirmation letter to each candidate approximately ten days before the scheduled exam date. The letter will contain final testing information, including the name and location of the test site and the testing time. The letter is informational only and is not required for entry to the exam. If you did not receive a confirmation letter five days prior to a scheduled testing date, you should call the testing office to verify your registration.

Fee Schedule

The established testing fees in Illinois are as follows:

First Time Applicant
Blue/Maroon application – $65.00

Failed test previously (within one year of fail result) – $35.00

No-show at a test – $25.00

Retest Only
Listed on registry but did not work in two years – $65.00

Payment must be in the form of money order, certified check, or facility check and made payable to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Personal checks will not be accepted. The candidate’s name should be included on the check or money order so the payment can be properly applied.

CNA Exam Overview Illinois

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA) requires persons desiring to work as a nurse aide in a long-term care facility to complete nurse aide training and pass the state competency evaluation. An individual who passes the exam will have demonstrated the basic knowledge and skills to provide direct care services and will be entered on the Illinois Nurse Aide Registry.

The Written/Skills Exam

The competency exam covers the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to function as a nurse aide. There are 200 nurse aide tasks validated by the state of Illinois, and they’re grouped into six broad duty areas:

  • Communication – 31 tasks
  • Basic nursing skills – 59 tasks
  • Personal care skills – 59 tasks
  • Basic restorative skills – 42 tasks
  • Mental health and social service needs – 11 tasks
  • Residents’ rights – 14 tasks

The 85 multiple-choice questions on the written evaluation will cover some of the tasks in each group. You will have 90 minutes to complete the exam.

To prepare for the skills exam, you should review the important steps for each skill and perform them repeatedly to remember the steps. Practice in groups or with another person and time your actions to learn how to pace yourself during the exam. Take practice exams whenever possible to understand the types of questions that will show up on a CNA exam. A sample test comprising of ten questions is available on the testing service’s website. Review the answers and explanations of any incorrect answers.

What To Bring To The Exam

On the examination day, you should arrive at least 20 minutes before the time listed on the test notification letter. If you arrive after the exam starts, you will not be admitted to the room or be allowed to test. You will need to reapply for the exam and pay a $25 rescheduling fee. Your name must be on the test roster and you’ll be expected to provide photo identification such as a driver’s license, student ID, or state ID. Do not bring paper, books, notes, or other resource materials to the exam. Answers will be submitted on an optical scanner test answer sheets, so you must use number 2 pencils to shade in your responses. Take at least two pencils and an eraser to the test site.

Receiving Your Scores

Test results will be available approximately two weeks after the written exam. The results will be available on the Health Care Worker Registry (HCW) approximately two weeks after testing. Registry status may be verified through the HCW Registry website at Under the provisions of the Privacy Act, the testing service will not provide results over the phone, fax, or email. Employers and nurse aides can visit the Nurse Aide Registry online to verify a candidate’s status.

You may submit a request to have your test rescored if you believe there was an error in scoring. You must place the request within six weeks of receiving your results. Submit the request in writing and include the test date, testing center, your complete name, address, and social security number.

Contact the Registry

Illinois Nurse Aide Registry

Illinois Department of Public Health
Health Care Worker Registry
525 W. Jefferson St., Fourth Floor
Springfield, IL 62761
Phone: 844-789-3676

Nurse Aide Testing
1840 Innovation Drive,
Carbondale, IL 62903
Phone: 1-877-262-9259
Alt: 618-453-4368



Crystal G

Crystal is a certified Registered Nurse (RN) with a passion for writing about nursing education. Through her articles, Crystal shares insights and tips to help fellow nurses enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest developments in the field. With a focus on practical advice and relevant topics, Crystal's writing is a valuable resource for nursing professionals seeking to advance their careers.