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      How to read a test plan (the insider's study secret)

      Does your upcoming certification exam feel like a mystery? Wondering what’s going to be on it?

      Enter, the NHA certification exam test plan.

      There is a different test plan for each of NHA’s certification exams available for students and the trainers and instructors who are preparing them for the test. The test plan is used as the guide for creating the exam, as well as building the content in NHA study guides and practice tests*, and while it won’t teach you what you need to know to pass the test, it can be a helpful free resource for planning your studying – but how do you read one?


      What's in a test plan?

      Let’s take a look at an example detailed NHA test plan and take a little mystery out of this important document.

      Test plan-1.png

      First the name of the certification will appear as the title on the page. Keep them straight if you’re stacking credentials and preparing for multiple exams. You’ll also be able to read the length of time you have to complete the test, the number of “scored items” and “pretest items.”

      • What are items? On the test plan you can think of items meaning the same thing as questions you’ll need to answer.
      • Why are there pretest items? Pretest items are questions mixed in with the rest of the exam. They’re used to make sure the test is scored fairly for everyone taking it. You won’t know when you’re taking the exam which are the scored and unscored questions so just do your best on every question.

      Reading each column of info

      The left column contains a long list of topic areas that will be tested. The major topics of the exams are called “domains” and have a number in the right column next to them.

      In the right column you see “# of scored items.” Since you just read that “items” essentially means exam questions, you might have guessed that means the number of questions on the exam on each domain.

      Domains have some sub topics listed under them that go into more detail about what knowledge is tested in each section.

      Test plan Annotated Domains.png

      Some test plans will include additional sections called “Core Knowledge and Skills”. These sections do not represent standalone domains on the exam but are fundamental skills and necessary knowledge which could be included to give context to an actual test item. Including them is just to help preparation and review for the exam.

      Check out the test plans now.


      The most important thing to remember about the test plan

      While test plans are used to create the test and also used to create NHA study materials and practice assessments, you won’t gain the knowledge you need to pass your exam from the test plan.

      What can you learn from the test plan? Which concepts to study.

      So make sure you make a study plan, and get really comfortable with all the concepts. Don't try to cram right before the test.


      What other resources can you use to study?

      In addition to materials you use to learn about the core concepts of your exam, check out NHA study materials and practice assessments for some their unique benefits:

      The exam experience

      The online practice assessments are designed to mimic the actual NHA exam.

      Real-time feedback about which topics you need to study more

      When you complete an NHA practice assessment you can access a detailed Focused Review® that highlights how you did on each topic are of the test, so you know what you need to study more.

      Study guides based off the exam test plan

      NHA study guides and practice tests are built from the same test plan as the exam. So while the questions on your exam will be different than the ones in your study guide, the topics covered, and the weight given each should be similar.

      Browse NHA study materials by profession here.



      The purchase of NHA exam preparation materials is not required to sit for any NHA certification exam and use does not guarantee a passing score on an exam. All NHA certification programs and the corresponding exams are NCCA-accredited

      Topics: study tips, studying, getting certified, exam prep, study materials