CNA Exam and Certification South Dakota

The South Dakota Health Care Association holds the responsibility of credentialing nursing assistants in the state. Working in tandem with the SDHAC, Headmaster, LLC is responsible for the administration of the CNA exam at test sites across South Dakota. A candidate for certification can apply to take the competency test after completing a state-approved training program and must obtain a passing score of 75% on the Knowledge/Oral and 75% on each skills task on the Skills test to pass the exam and qualify for inclusion on the South Dakota Nurse Aide Registry. The South Dakota Board of Nursing maintains up-to-date information on the status of nurse aides. Employers can contact the Registry to inquire about the status of a prospective nurse assistant employee or report the abuses of an existing employee.

CNA Classes in SD:

How to Apply for the South Dakota CNA Exam

You’re eligible to take the CNA exam after completing an approved program comprising of 75 hours of didactic and clinical instruction. Nursing students and graduate nurses who are waiting to take the NCLEX exam may also be eligible to apply for the exam.

To schedule the exam, review the Three Month Test Schedule and submit your application at least two weeks before the date of choice.

If you need special test accommodations, you should fill out an ADA Accommodation form and submit it with the rest of your application materials. ADA requests can take up to 30 days for review and you must submit documents from a licensed physician or specialist who diagnosed your disability.

Your application, fees, and documents must be submitted to the South Dakota Health Care Association. To reschedule or cancel an appointment contact Headmaster directly.

Exam Costs

The established testing fees in South Dakota are as follows:

  • Oral test – $80.50
  • Knowledge test – $70.50
  • Skills test – $89.00

CNA Exam Overview South Dakota

The South Dakota Health Care Association uses the state CNA exam to confirm a candidate’s ability to provide safe and competent care at licensed nursing homes. The Written exam assesses your knowledge base while the skills test checks your clinical abilities. If you pass the exam, your name will be added to the state’s nurse aide registry.

The Written Exam

The knowledge test is available in paper format or as a WebETest at select sites. A test observer will hand out the materials and give instructions before the test begins. There will be 75 test questions that you must complete in a maximum time of 90 minutes. You will be told when there are fifteen minutes left on the exam. The passing score for the Written/Oral exam is 75%.

If you have difficulty reading English, you should register for the Oral test, which costs slightly more than the Written exam. If you do not check the Oral option on your application and enclose the appropriate fee, you will not be allowed to take the Oral test at the test center. At the site, a test observer will provide a computer that you’ll use to listen to the questions and enter your answers.

The content outline for the test follows the state test plan for South Dakota and covers safety of residents, verbal and non-verbal communication, infection control, resident rights, skills necessary to perform the role of a nursing assistant, restorative services and other responsibilities of nurse aides, personal acts that are necessary when caring for the functionally impaired, mental processes of patients, and developmental tasks associated with the aging process.

Some questions on the test will be non-scored items that will be used to collect statistical information for future tests.

Removing testing materials from the test site is a violation that is subject to prosecution.

The Skills Exam

The skills test assesses your performance of five nurse aide skills. The five skills will be selected at random from the Skills Lists found in the Candidate Handbook. You must score at least 75% on each skill, without missing any key steps, to pass the exam. The steps, including the key steps, are outlined on the Skills List. A test observer will read your five assigned skills and a scenario for each skill- you can request to have the scenario repeated. Make sure you understand all the instructions before begin, and follow the order in which you skills are assigned.

The maximum time for the test is 30 minutes. If you believe that you made a mistake, tell the test observer, and then proceed to repeat the task. If you fail a task, it will be one of the tasks assigned when you repeat the exam. The test observer’s responsibility is to observe and record whether you perform the steps on each of the five tasks and submit the findings to Headmaster for scoring.

What To Bring To The Exam

You should arrive at the test site 20 minutes before your scheduled time to have your identification verified and receive instructions for the test. You’ll need an active photo ID with your signature – or an approved substitute form – and your test notification letter.

You will not be admitted to the test site if you arrive late and your fee will not be refunded. Cellular phones, beepers and other electronic devices are not permitted, but you may use a calculator. Notes, food, and drinks, are not allowed during the test. Personal belongings, such as study materials, large handbags, and briefcases will be collected before you enter the test room and returned to you when the test is over. If you’re taking the paper test, you must bring at least two no. 2 pencils and an eraser to the test site. Clinical attire, such as scrubs and flat, non-skid shoes are required for the skills evaluation.

Receiving Your Scores

Once your results are available, the South Dakota Health Care Association will mail the results to you and your employer. The official report will indicate whether you passed or failed the Knowledge/Oral and Skills Test. If you successfully pass both tests, your name will be added to the South Dakota Nurse Aide Registry. If you fail, the report will highlight the content areas where you need improvement. It will also include guidelines for reapplying for the portion(s) of the test you failed. If you need a duplicate report, you can request one from the SDHCA for a fee of 15.00.

Contact the Registry

South Dakota Nurse Aide Registry

South Dakota Health Care Association
LuAnn Severson
804 N. Western Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57104

Headmaster, LLP

3310 McHugh Lane
P.O. Box 6609
Helena, MT 59604-6609
Phone: (800) 393-8664
Fax: (406) 442-3357


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.