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The Best CNA Study Guides - 2023

Article by Jane Newsom. Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 2, 2023.

Overview Of The CNA Exam

The Certified Nursing Assistant Exam (CNA) is the gateway to starting your career as a nursing assistant. The exam itself can be quite challenging, and many people take multiple tries to pass. Given the costs (both time and money) associated with taking the exam, it’s in your best interest to ace it on your first attempt, and there are tons of resources that can help you do just that.

We’ll cover the exam in detail, and give you our picks for the best CNA study guides, review guides, and flashcards for test year 2023 below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:

CNA Exam Details

The CNA Exam is composed of 2 sections, practical and written. The requirements vary from state to state, but generally speaking the 2 sections will test a broad range of skills any CNA candidate should be able to demonstrate on demand. For specific requirements in your area, check out this (list of requirements by state](http://cnaclassesnearyou.com/cna-requirements-by-state/).

Exam Sections

Practical Skills Demonstration

This section is administered one on one, typically with a licensed nurse as a proctor. Time for this section is typically in the range of 30 minutes, but may be more or less. The topics you will be asked to demonstrate aren’t known ahead of time, but typical topics include:

  • Dental Care
  • Vital Signs
  • Catheter Care
  • Patient Transfer
  • Partial Bed Bath

You’ll generally be asked to demonstrate between 3 and 6 skills, on a mannequin or fellow student. It’s important to treat the interactions as you would in a real healthcare setting.

Written Assessment

The written section of the CNA is typically administered in a computing facility. As mentioned, the number of questions, topics covered, and time allotted for the test will vary by state. The questions are multiple choice, and common techniques for taking multiple choice tests apply (e.g. eliminate the answers you’re sure are wrong and then guess from the remaining).

Exam Scoring

The scoring for the CNA also varies from state to state. Typical minimum passing grades are 80% or higher (for the American Red Cross Exams), but some are as low as 70%. The scoring for the written section is straightforward (correct answers receive points and incorrect answers don’t). In the practical section, things are a bit more subjective. There are some actions you could take which would result in an instant failing grade (e.g. failing to wash your hands). Likewise, partial credit can be given for answers which aren’t correct if you realize your mistake and declare it at the time.

Registering For The Exam

When you take your prep course, the instructors will typically help you get registered to take the exam as well. Requirements vary by state, so if you’re working through the process on your own, make sure you aren’t looking at information for the wrong location!

Best CNA Study Guides

CNA Exam Cram

CNA Exam Cram
2nd Edition
by Whitenton & Walker

Pros: Complete and comprehensive review of all exam topics. Access to practice tests.
Cons: Some of the practice questions are more rudimentary than you may face on the actual exam.
Our Rating: 5.0 / 5

CNA Exam Cram is our top pick for best CNA study guide for 2021. It has a solid number of full length practice tests, as well as solid coverage of all the important test topics. The full list of features include:

  • Access to 3 full length practice tests online.
  • Fully revised for the current NNAAP exam.
  • Cram sheet tear-card for last minute review.
  • Coverage and practice questions for all critical exam topics.

The primary attributes of a good study guide in this area are access to practice test questions and a comprehensive review of important material. This guide has both of these things, and are high-quality and user friendly. If you only plan on picking up 1 guide on this list, we recommend you make it CNA Exam Cram!

CNA Exam Secrets

CNA Exam Secrets
Stg Edition
by Exam Secrets Test Prep

Pros: Strong, logical layout is easy to digest.
Cons: Some typographical and other errors.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

CNA Exam Secrets is another strong contender on this list. It has the full coverage of exam materials you would expect from any study guide. It doesn’t come with online resources and practice tests, but the printed material is quite good. The full list of features include:

  • Detailed overview of exam requirements.
  • Organized by clinical area for ease of use.
  • Practice questions with detailed answer keys.

The primary strength of this guide is it’s logical layout and comprehensive coverage of all the relevant exam topics. While it doesn’t have as many practice tests as our top choice, this is still a completely viable option for prospective CNA Exam takers.

CNA Study Guide 2023-2024

CNA Study Guide 2018 & 2019
2023-2024 Edition
by Test Prep Books

Pros: Good number of practice questions and topic coverage.
Cons: Clinical portion is less comprehensive than other books.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

CNA Study Guide 2023-2024 is another great resource for CNA students looking to succeed on the first try. It contains a full review of CNA Exam topics, and comes with plenty of useful practice questions. Features include:

  • Practice questions with detailed answer explanations.
  • Comprehensive review of likely exam content.
  • Proven test taking strategies.

While this book does a good job covering all the written topics you will encounter, it has less information on the practical skills section. All in all, it’s still a valuable guide for prospective CNAs.

CNA Practice Questions

CNA Practice Questions
1st Edition
by CNA Exam Secrets

Pros: Lots of useful and relevant practice questions.
Cons: Not an in-depth topic review.
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5

CNA Practice Questions isn’t a full fledged study guide like the other books on this list. Rather, it’s a collection of useful and accurate practice questions, similar to what you’ll encounter on the exam. Features include:

  • Lots of great practice questions covering all topics on the exam.
  • Accurate in terms of difficulty for real questions you’ll encounter.

If you have a good handle on the material already, and are just looking for an accurate introduction to what you’ll encounter on test day, this is a great choice. It’s especially useful for last minute review and ensuring you’re well prepared for the format and difficulty of actual questions.

Best CNA Flashcards

In addition to the excellent books mentioned above, nursing assistant students will see significant benefits in prepping for the exam using flashcards. Our top picks for Best CNA Flashcards are outlined below.

CNA Exam Flashcard Study System

CNA Exam Flashcard Study System
1st Edition
by CNA Exam Secrets

Pros: Comprehensive list of terms covering major exam topics.
Cons: Cards are relatively dense and contain a lot of info.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

CNA Exam Flashcard Study System is our top pick for flashcards to help you prepare for the CNA exam. It has over 295 cards containing tons of information across all test topics. Key features include:

  • Over 295 flashcards.
  • Covers all major topics and themes covered by the exam.

Flashcards have a tremendous benefit for students who elect to use them in their test preparation. Repetitive drilling on major topics is a good way to help in the days leading up to the exam. If you plan to pick up flashcards to help in your studies, these are your best bet!

Wrapping Up

For prospective nursing assistants, the CNA Exam is the key to entering the field. Study manuals, flashcards, and practice tests are a huge help to many people, and if you’ve read this far you’re probably one of them.

We’ve rounded up the top CNA Exam study guides and flashcards and presented them above. To recap our recommendations:

Top Study Guide RecommendationCNA Exam Cram
Top Flashcard RecommendationCNA Exam Flashcard Study System

Our top pick for best CNA Study Guide is CNA Exam Cram. It’s the most comprehensive and accurate guide on our list, and has the most practice tests and online resources included.

For top flashcard pick, we recommend CNA Exam Flashcard Study System. It’s got over 295 highly relevant cards covering all topics from the exam.

Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best CNA resources available. Good luck, and study hard!

Sources and Further Reading

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