Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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For Students

When will I receive my test results? How?

Nurse aide examination results must be provided to applicants by U.S. mail. Result letters will be mailed to students approximately two to three weeks after all test materials have been received from each test site. Information will be available on the Health Care Worker Registry approximately two weeks after testing. Registry status may be verified through the Health Care Worker Registry website at VERIFICATION FOR EMPLOYMENT PURPOSES MUST BE DONE USING ONLY THE NURSE AIDE'S SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

Can I call the Nurse Aide Testing Office and get my test results by phone?

Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines and the Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended forbids the Nurse Aide Testing Project from releasing by phone, fax or e-mail any personal information regarding an applicant for the nurse aide examination.

How do I get a copy of my results if I lost mine or did not receive them by mail?

The result letter you receive from the Nurse Aide Testing Project is NOT an official document and serves no purpose other than to communicate to the individual his/her exam result. The Illinois Department of Public, Health-Health Care Worker Registry provides employers with immediate access to information regarding nurse aides’ status. Illinois state law requires employers of nurse aides to verify a nurse aide’s status through the Health Care Worker Registry and they are NOT to accept a result letter as proof of eligibility. If an individual wants a duplicate letter for his/her records, he/she may send a $10 money order along with a written request including his/her name, social security number, approximate month and year of testing and current address to the Nurse Aide Testing Project and a duplicate letter will be sent.

What is the score I must receive in order to pass the exam?

The Illinois Nurse Aide Competency Exam is a pass/fail exam. The cut-off score for the pass/fail result is information that cannot be released according to the agreement between the Illinois Department of Public Health and Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

I need my results letter so I can apply for a job. What should I do?

The results letter you receive by mail from Southern Illinois University is NOT an official document and serves only to communicate your testing result. An employer is required by state law to contact the Illinois Department of Public Health, Health Care Worker Registry in order to verify a nurse aide’s status on the Health Care Worker Registry.

English isn’t my primary speaking language. Is an exam version available in my native language?

English as a second language is not considered by the Illinois Department of Public Health to be a disability under which special accommodations may be made for testing. However, if an applicant is working for a facility that can verify their resident population is 50% of a particular language, a translated exam may be made available.

I received special accommodations in my training due to a disability. Are special testing accommodations available to me for the Nurse Aide Competency Exam?

A written request for specific special accommodations from your nurse aide instructor or program coordinator along with documentation of a learning disability are needed in order to provide special accommodations for testing. This information should be provided to the Nurse Aide Testing Project at least 30 days prior to the desired testing date.

Who may take the Nurse Aide Competency Exam?

An individual who has completed an approved nurse aide training program and has met all other requirements of the Health Care Worker Registry may take the competency exam. Those individuals placed on the Health Care Worker Registry based on reciprocity from another state are not required to take the Illinois written competency test. Also, aides approved on the ILLINOIS HEALTH CARE WORKER REGISTRY PRIOR TO January 1, 1990, are NOT required or permitted to take this test.

It has been more than 2 years since I have worked as a nurse aide. Do I have to take the training program over again?

If a nurse aide is in good standing with no findings of abuse, neglect or theft and has not worked for pay in the nursing-related services for 24 consecutive months or more, he/she may be able to re-certify by either retraining and testing or testing only. Contact the Illinois Department of Public Health at 217-785-5133 for re-certification information.

I am a nursing student and want to work as a CNA while I go to school. Can I just take the exam?

Nursing students who wish to take the Nurse Aide Examination must first be approved on the Illinois Health Care Worker Registry. Contact the Illinois Department of Public Health at 217-785-5133 to obtain the form to submit for approval.

I missed my scheduled exam. Can I reschedule?

Individuals who "No Show" for a scheduled exam will receive a letter and application form in the mail approximately two to three weeks after the scheduled examination. You must submit the application with a money order in the amount according to the current fee schedule by the postmark deadline to be eligible for the next available testing cycle.

I have a conviction on my record. Will I be able to take the test and be listed as a certified CNA?

Any questions regarding your criminal background should be directed to the Registry staff at 217-785-5133, or via email at: Healthcare Worker Registry

How many times can I fail the test before I have to re-train?

A nurse aide may take and fail the examination three times before he/she is required to retrain.

How do I reach the Illinois Department of Public Health?

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Health Care Worker Registry’s web address is Verification must ONLY be done by an aide’s social security number.

When will I receive my nurse aide license or certificate? Where do I find my license number?

Certified Nursing Assistants are NOT issued a license, card or credential of any kind by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The nurse aide certification/registry number is the aide’s social security number. Approximately three weeks after testing, test result information is available on the Illinois Department of Public Health, Health Care Worker Registry at Enter your name and verify with your social security number. The individual’s information is provided by computer system. This printable page verifies your Illinois Nurse Aide Registry status.

Why do employers want a copy of my result letter if they are required to check the registry for my employment eligibility?

Employers may wish to have a copy of the letter for your records, however the document is unofficial and cannot be used to verify your status on the Illinois Health Care Worker Registry. If an audit is conducted, a copy of your Health Care Worker Registry information from the Internet must be on file.

Why must I take a competency exam?

The number of elderly people has rapidly increased and so has America’s concern for quality care of the elderly people residing in long-term care facilities across the United States. The passage of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA) mandated that all states establish nurse aide training and competency evaluation programs by January 1, 1990. The Act established a registry of nurse aides who have passed both a certified training program and a competency exam, deeming them competent and able to work as nurse aides in long-term care facilities.
This Act requires anyone desiring to work as a nurse aide in a long-term care facility to pass a state certified nurse aide training program and a state competency evaluation exam. Nurse aides must have their names entered on that state’s nurse aide registry to be employed in that state as a nurse aide. The primary purpose of the competency exam is to ensure that individuals have the basic knowledge and skills needed to perform the skills required of a nurse aide.

Can I work as a nurse-aide without taking the exam?

A nurse aide may work in a long-term care facility up to 120 days after successfully completing an approved Illinois nurse aide training program while waiting to take and pass the Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation. If the exam has not been passed within 120 days of employment as a nursing assistant, the employer is required to remove the aide from a direct care position until the exam has been passed.

What are the most common reasons for having your application returned?

Applications are frequently returned either because they are incomplete, appropriate fees are not enclosed, there is no verification of program completion, or a criminal background check is not enclosed or on record.

When will I receive notification that my application has been processed and I have been scheduled to test?

Confirmation letters are mailed to the address coded on the individual’s application form approximately 10 days prior to the scheduled test date. If you have not received your confirmation letter 5 days prior to the date you requested to test, check the Registration portion of this web-site to obtain your testing information. You are not required to have your confirmation letter to gain entrance to the examination. You should arrive at least 15 minutes before the stated testing time and bring along a picture identification, which contains a current photo and your signature (i.e. Illinois driver’s license or Illinois state ID or a Student ID) and two number 2 lead pencils.

What content is covered on the Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation Exam?

The skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to perform the job of a nurse aide are the areas covered by the competency evaluation exam. The nurse aide job consists of various tasks. Each task has been analyzed and evaluated by nurse aides and their supervisors. Tasks which nurse aides perform on the job were validated in the state of Illinois in January 2000. The validated 200 tasks were grouped in six broad duty areas. The duty areas include:

  • Duty A: Communicating Information – 31 tasks
  • Duty B: Performing Basic Nursing Skills – 59 tasks
  • Duty C: Performing Personal Care Skills – 43 tasks
  • Duty D: Performing Basic Restorative Skills – 42 tasks
  • Duty E: Providing Mental Health and Social Service Needs – 11 tasks
  • Duty F: Providing Residents' Rights – 14 tasks


How is a passing score on the Nurse Aide Competency Exam determined?

The Nurse Aide Competency Exam is overseen by a state agency. That agency establishes and governs the rules, regulations and procedures based on federal and state mandates. An advisory committee made up of nurse aides, home health care aides, supervisors, instructors, and state health care personnel establish passing scores.

When and where may I take the Nurse Aide Competency Exam?

The Nurse Aide Competency Exam is scheduled at various testing sites, usually community colleges, across the state on designated dates. Depending on registration levels, most sites test at least once a month. The test fees, registration deadline dates and test dates are established in a published schedule. Click on the Test Sites link to locate a test site in your area. If you have already submitted your application for testing, click on the Exam Schedule Status link to see if you are registered for the current testing cycle.

What materials may I bring when I take the Nurse Aide Competency Exam?

The examinee must bring at least two No. 2 lead pencils with erasers and a photo ID that contains a current picture of the individual and their signature, such as a drivers license, state ID or student ID. State ID’s can be obtained from a local driver’s examination station. Applicants MAY NOT bring notes, paper, books or other instructional aids to the exam. Test answer sheets are scored by an optical scanner, therefore, the test form must be completed using No. 2 lead pencils.

Should I guess on the Nurse Aide Competency Exam?

Yes! Typically, a competency exam requires the test taker to answer all of the questions on the exam. The exam score is based on the number of questions answered correctly. Blank answers are automatically counted as incorrect and will lower the test taker’s score. In Illinois, there is no penalty for guessing on the Nurse Aide Competency Exam. It is an advantage to fill in an answer for each question. Try to eliminate choices you know are incorrect to help increase your odds to guess correctly.

How can I prepare for the Nurse Aide Competency Exam?

The most effective way to prepare for your competency exam is to:

  • identify the tasks (jobs) that nurse aides perform on the job.
  • review important facts and information associated with skills required to perform those tasks.
  • practice doing the task.
    (Repetition increases your skill and what you remember about the task.)
  • study in small groups.
    (Another person may be able to share information you did not know, explain a concept or procedure that is unclear, and reinforce information you already know.)
  • take a timed practice exam.
    (A timed practice exam can help examinees learn how to pace themselves so they can use time efficiently to complete the exam. A practice exam also familiarizes the examinee with the types of questions expected on an exam.)
  • review explanations of correct answers. (May provide new facts and help understand new information, aid in applying information already known, reinforce current knowledge, increase confidence and reduce anxiety about taking the exam.)

How do I create an account to purchase an exam seat?

Your instructor submits a roster of all students who complete the CNA course and pass the course final exam. You must be on a roster to create an account. You must have an account to purchase a seat.

If you are on a roster, go to
Click Exam Registration and select Exam Registration from the menu.

The Login screen appears. Click the Create An Account link.

The Verify Eligibility screen appears. Fill in your email address, Social Security number and birthdate. Click Check Eligibility.

The Create Account screen appears. Verify all data. Fill in what is missing. Delete any periods, dashes or symbols. Click the Create Account button at the bottom of the form.


How do I purchase an exam seat?

You must have an account to purchase an exam seat.
Log in using your account’s login and password. (See ‘How do I create an account to purchase an exam seat?’)
On the Register screen, click the Register button or the Store tab.
On the Payment Methods screen, click the Credit Card or Voucher button.
On the Products screen, find the exam you want.
Click the Add To Cart button associated with the exam.
Carefully search for an exam by date, distance and/or ZIP Code.
Click the Select button for the date, location and time you are sure you want to attend.
Double-check and confirm the date and month. (You will be charged a $25 fee if you reschedule after purchasing.)

If you are using a Credit or Debit card:
Click Check Out. Fill in card holder’s billing data. Click Pay Now.

If you are using a Voucher:
Type in the voucher number. Click Apply. Click Check Out.
Your receipt appears.

You may need to present your receipt to take the exam.
Click Print button to print your receipt or click Send As Email button.

How do I log in and take the exam?

You must have an active account to access the exam.
You will need the login ID and password* you made when you registered, created your account and purchased an exam seat. Your login ID is included in your registration confirmation email. Also, you will need a photo ID and possibly your seat purchase receipt.

Sign in at the exam location.
Go to
Click Exam Registration link.
Enter your login ID and password*.
Click the Sign In button.

* If you do not have your Login, click Forgot Login ID?, enter your email and click Retrieve. Your login name is sent to your email.
* If you do not have your password, click Forgot Password?, enter your login ID and click Reset. A new password is sent to your email.

Your exam is listed in a grey box under ‘Available Items’.
Click the Start link associated with your exam.

The exam is delivered in Respondus® Lockdown™ browser.
If asked, follow the instructions to allow Lockdown™ to open.
The opening buttons may say “Allow”, “Yes”, “Launch Application” or something similar.
If ‘Page cannot be displayed’ appears, you will not be able to use that computer.
You must take the exam on a computer with the INACE edition of Lockdown™ installed.

When the exam opens.
• Click your answer choice to select it
• Review and re-answer any question as often as needed.
• Click Next or Previous to navigate among questions.
• Click Bookmark Item to identify questions for later review.
• DO NOT close the browser until you complete the exam.
After answering all questions, click the Score Exam button. (Your exam will be scored automatically after 90 minutes whether or not you answer all questions.)

Your exam results will be verified and emailed to you. Allow at least three business days for the verification process. A certificate of completion will be available if you pass.
Log in and click the Certificate link associated with your exam to downed and/or print your certificate.
If you do not pass, you may ‘Schedule a Retest‘.