The Department of Health Services (DHS) has one state-administered competency test, as allowed under federal law, to ensure a neutral and objective nurse aide testing process.
DHS contracts with Headmaster to deliver Wisconsin’s Nurse Aide Competency Testing services.
The DHS liaison with Headmaster is the Office of Caregiver Quality:
Department of Health Services
Division of Quality Assurance
PO Box 2969
Madison, WI 53701-2969
Please refer to the Wisconsin Nurse Aide Candidate Handbook for detail information on the competency competency exam and additional nurse aide and caregiver information.
A list of the most commonly asked questions related to nurse aide competency testing are list below:
1. Who do I contact to learn about nurse aide testing?
To learn information about nurse aide testing in Wisconsin, refer to DHS Nurse Aide Training and Registry Information. You may also contact Headmaster at:
P.O. Box 418
Findlay, OH 45839-0418
Hours of operation: Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. CST
Saturday 7:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. CST
P.O. Box 6609
Helena Montana 59604
Hours of operation: 9:00 a.m. -7:00 p.m. CST
2. How do I schedule a test?
Please refer to the Nurse Aide Training and Registry Information webpage. Information for scheduling a competency examination can be found under the Testing tab.
3. How can I prepare for the Nurse Aide Competency Exam?
The Knowledge Test consists of 75 multiple-choice questions and you will have 60 minutes to complete the test. Questions are selected from subject areas based on the approved DHS test plan and include questions from all the required categories as defined in Federal regulations. The number of questions in each subject area is as follows:
Infection Control (7)
Personal Care (8)
Mental Health (4)
Care Impaired (8)
Resident Rights (7)
Data Collection (4)
Basic Nurse Skills (10)
Role and Responsibility (5)
Disease Process (4)
Aging Process & Restorative Care(5)
An audio (oral) version of the Knowledge Test is available for anyone requesting it. You may request an Oral Test when you initially schedule your test. There is a five dollar additional charge for an Oral Test. For TMU electronic testing, you will hear the questions over the computer/table headphones and have control buttons on the screen to play, rewind, pause, etc. For Oral Tests, only the first 67 questions will be read orally. The remaining eight questions will have to be answered without oral assistance to assess your English reading comprehension.
Headmaster offers a free knowledge test question of the day and a ten question online static practice test available on the Headmaster home page under On-line CNA Practice Exams. A mastery learning testing method is used and each practice test taken will be unique. Candidates must get the question they are attempting correct before they may move onto the next question. A first attempt percentage score and vocabulary feedback are supplied upon completion of any practice test. A list of vocabulary words to study is provided at the end of each practice test.
The purpose of the Skill Test is to evaluate your performance when demonstrating Wisconsin approved nurse aide skill tasks. You will find a complete list of possible skill tasks in the Wisconsin Candidate Handbook.
- Be sure you understand all instructions you read while in the waiting area before you begin your skill task demonstrations. You may not ask questions once the Skill Test begins and the timer starts. Once the Skill Test begins, the RN Test Observer may not answer questions.
- Each of your randomly selected three or four tasks will have scenarios associated with them. The scenarios will be read to you by the RN Test Observer immediately before you are asked to do each task.
- You will be given no more than 30 minutes to complete your three or four tasks. After 15 minutes have elapsed, you will be alerted that 15 minutes remain.
- Listen carefully to all instructions given by the RN Test Observer. You may request to have any of the scenarios repeated at any time during your Skill Test up until you run out of time or tell the RN Test Observer that you are finished with your skill task demonstrations.
- You must correctly perform all of the key steps and 80% of all steps on each task assigned in order to pass the Skill Test. If you believe you made a mistake while performing a task, say so. You will need to demonstrate the step or steps on the task you believe you performed incorrectly for the correction to be noted for the step. You may repeat or correct any step or steps you believe you have performed incorrectly at any time during your allotted 30 minutes or until you tell the RN Test Observer you are finished with the Skill Test.
- The skill task steps are generally not order dependent, unless the words BEFORE or AFTER are used in a step.
- At any time during any skill, you may direct the RN Test Observer to move anywhere needed to assist you in providing safety for the resident.
All steps must actually be demonstrated. Steps that are only verbalized will not count.
4. How do I get a Nurse Aide Candidate Handbook?
You may print the Nurse Aide Candidate Handbook or contact Headmaster toll-free at 888-401-0462 to request a handbook to be mailed to you.
5. Do I have to submit the fee when I apply to test?
Yes, securely processed Visa or MasterCard credit card or debit card information is required when scheduling online testing.
- $125 knowledge and skills exams
- $130 oral and skills exams
- $93 skills only
- $32 knowledge only
- $37 oral only
The online Headmaster TestMaster Universe (TMU) will keep track of which exams you are required to take. Your examination fee may be paid by MasterCard, Visa, or in the form of a money order, facility check or cashier’s check, payable to "D&ST."
Personal checks will not be accepted from individuals. Do not send cash.
6. Is the exam offered in another language besides English?
The written and oral exams are given in English.
7. I have a disability. How do I request special accommodations to my testing due to my disability?
A nurse aide candidate who has a disability may request special arrangements for testing. This request should be made as soon as it is known that a special accommodation will be needed, and before a candidate applies for testing. Accommodations must be approved by Headmaster and the Office of Caregiver Quality (OCQ) and cannot change the examination in any way. A completed and signed request for ADA Accommodation Form 1404WI along with required documentation must be submitted to Headmaster. When you are scheduling to take your exam, please make sure you or your training program has submitted the ADA Accommodation Form(s) far enough in advance to not delay testing.
All requests must be approved in advance so the evaluator can be made aware of the exact accommodation that is needed. The request must state the specific type of help the nurse aide candidate needs, and how the accommodation will help the candidate test. The accommodation cannot change the examination in any way.
The special accommodation may be approved as requested, with adjustments to the original request, or denied. The candidate will receive written notification of the decision. If approved, Headmaster will schedule the nurse aide candidate for testing and will advise the Nurse Aide Evaluator of the special accommodations needed.
You do not need ADA approval to take the Oral Examination.
8. How do I cancel a scheduled exam?
A cancellation request must be made in writing to cancel a test. If you cancel more than seven days in advance of your scheduled test event, all fees will be refunded to the remitter of record. Requests made after seven days before and up to one business day preceding a scheduled test day will qualify for a full refund of any testing fees paid minus a $30 cancellation fee. Sundays and holidays are not considered business days. Written requests for cancellations can be faxed to 419-422-7395 or emailed to Headmaster.
If you are scheduled for a test component and do not show up without prior notification of at least one business day prior to your scheduled test event or you are turned away for lack of proper identification, proper attire, or any other reason to deem you ineligible to test, you will be considered a no-show. You will forfeit all fees paid and must submit a new testing fee to schedule yourself into a new test event.
If you do not reschedule online (at no charge, three business days prior) or submit a cancellation request at least one business day preceding a scheduled test event, a no-show status will exist. You then must log into TMU, re-pay and re-schedule into a new test event of your choice.
Note: The calculation of three business days includes the day of your scheduled test event.
If you are a no-show for any test component for any of the following reasons, test fees will be refunded or a free reschedule will be authorized to the remitter of record with appropriate documentation provided.
- Car Breakdown: Headmaster must be contacted via phone call, fax, or email within one business day of the breakdown. A tow bill or other appropriate documentation must be submitted within two business days of the missed test event. If proof is not received within two business days, your no-show status will stand, all fees paid will be forfeited and you must submit a new testing fee to be scheduled into a new test event.
- Medical Emergency: Headmaster must be contacted via phone call, fax or email within one business day. A doctor’s note must be submitted within five business days of the missed test event. If proof is not received within five business days, your no-show status will stand, all fees paid will be forfeited and you must submit a new testing fee to be scheduled into a new test event.
- Death in the Family: Headmaster must be contacted and an obituary must be submitted within ten business days of the missed test event. This applies for immediate family members only. If proof is not received within the ten business days, your no-show status will stand, all fees paid will be forfeited and you must submit a new testing fee to be scheduled into a new test event.
You will be allowed to reschedule as many times as desired within one year of completing training.
9. Can I work as a nurse aide before I take the competency test?
A nurse aide student currently enrolled in an approved nurse aide training program may be permitted to provide direct nursing related duties for up to 120 calendar days from the start of training, as long as the person:
- Is a full-time employee,
- Has been trained and found proficient by the instructor on the skill being performed, and
- Is under the general supervision of a RN or LPN.
If you fail the competency test, you cannot provide direct, hands-on care until you successfully pass the retake test.
10. Will I be using a mannequin for the Skills Evaluation?
Headmaster will provide, as part of their testing team, a person to act as the client during the Skills Evaluation. Headmaster actors are used for all skills, except for perineal care and catheter care. Mannequins are used for these two scenarios. Speak to the mannequin as you would to any resident
11. What if I made a mistake during the Skills Evaluation?
If you believe you made a mistake while performing a task, say so. You will need to demonstrate the step or steps on the task you believe you performed incorrectly for the correction to be noted for the step. You may repeat or correct any step or steps you believe you have performed incorrectly at any time during your allotted 30 minutes or until you tell the RN Test Observer you are finished with the Skill Test.
12. How will I know if I passed the competency test?
After you have completed both the Knowledge Test and Skill Test components of the competency exam, your test results will be officially scored and double-checked. Official test results are available to you before 7 p.m. the next business day after your test event. When your test results have been scored, you will receive an email with instructions to to log into your TMU account to check your results. Upon successful completion of both components of the competency exam, your name will be placed on the Wisconsin Nurse Aide Registry.
If you fail either test component, you must reapply to retake the component that you failed. You are eligible to test as many times as needed within one year of your date of training program completion. After one year, you must complete another DHS approved training program in order to be eligible to schedule further testing.
If you did not pass both the Knowledge Test and the Skills Demonstration, your online test results will indicate the area(s) that need further review and practice.