updated October 2017
Perhaps you are taking a CPR class to be generally prepared or maybe the stakes are higher and passing is required for work or school. Regardless of the situation taking the test at the end of a CPR class can be nerve wracking but with proper preparation, a good instructor, and a few strategies not only will you pass but you will do great!
What should I expect when taking the exam?
Most traditional classes will have a written exam and a skills exam. The written exam will typically be 10-30 multiple choice questions testing a student’s ability to recall facts and apply the things they learned to some basic scenarios. The skills test will, at a minimum, require the student to demonstrate high quality CPR on a manikin simulating an adult patient. The evaluator will be looking for a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute at a depth of 2”. They will also need to see the student call for and then use an AED as soon as possible. If the class is geared towards healthcare providers or other professional rescuers the skills exam will also include scenarios with children, infants, and two rescuers. Those classes will also include alternative breathing methods such as using a Bag Valve Mask or a Face Mask.
If you are taking a class online you will likely be able to pause and repeat some sections. Take advantage of this feature. Once you think you fully understand a section try explaining what you learned in your own words to a friend. Maybe even try to teach them what you learned. If you can do this you’ve got a great handle on what was presented. If you can’t then you will see areas that need further clarification. If you are stuck on a particular topic you may be able to find an explanation that helps you more through the American Heart Association’s website (Heart.org). Quality online classes will still have a skills evaluation. This can be conducted remotely via video conference with an instructor or in person through a local instructor. If you are still confused by something you can take the opportunity of real time interaction with an instructor to ask your questions. Although some groups may offer an online program without a skills test many companies will not accept it. The skills you learn in a CPR class may need to be used in a time of crisis a year or more after the class was taken. It is hard enough for a student to remember those skills when they practiced them in class let alone if they only read about them and never actually did them.
Preparing for the Exam
Online or in person there should be a few key ideas that you can take away from each section of the class. For example when discussing the chain of survival for adults and child there are several differences but the most significant one is that the chain of survival for children starts with injury prevention. The reason for this is that most children are fundamentally healthy and have not had a life time of poor diet, limited exercise, and high blood pressure to lead them to develop heart issues. If you know this key difference between the chains of survival and the reason why, you will be able to apply that information in different forms on the test. A question might simply ask you to identify the first step in the pediatric chain of survival. Alternatively the question might be a little more difficult but revolve around the same key point and ask you to select which of several answers is incorrect and why.
While taking notes try not to write down everything that is said or presented but rather focus on the things that are repeated or otherwise emphasized.
Asking students to recall specific numbers or statistics are easy exam questions so consider making note of those things when they come up in class.
The key numbers to know for a CPR exam based on the 2010 American Heart Association standards are:
- 30 Compressions for every 2 breaths given during one rescuer CPR for a child
- 30 Compressions for every 2 breaths given during one rescuer CPR for an infant
- 15 Compressions for every 2 breaths given during two rescuer CPR for a child
- 15 Compressions for every 2 breaths given during two rescuer CPR for an infant
- Compressions must be given at a rate between 100 and 120 per minute
- An adults chest should be pushed down 2” during compressions
- Breaths should be given over 1 second
Take your time on the exam and do not rush. Rushing results in careless mistakes such as missing a “not” or “except for” qualifier in a question. If you are permitted to do so, write on the exam and cross out answers you are certain are wrong to help narrow down the decisions you have to make.
Remember the order of Circulation, Airway, and Breathing and apply that to questions to help determine the first thing that should happen or if a step has already been taken what the next step should be.
If there is ever a question about your safety during a scenario the correct answer is to remove yourself from danger and notify emergency responders.
Questions will often fall into three general categories. Questions testing fact recall have a black and white answer and test your ability to remember a fact that was presented in class. Scenario based questions will give you information about a situation and ask you to apply skills or concepts from the class to that situation. In scenario based questions there may be two answers which both are factual. Try to find the answer that is “most right” or meets the qualifiers given in the question such as “first”, “after”, or “next”. Some questions will blend fact recall with scenarios by asking you to provide facts in response to a scenario. Sometimes these will be two part questions and two or three of the answers will have a portion that is correct. Confirm that both parts of the answer are correct.
When practicing ensure that you make note of any feedback you are given. Practice based on the way you are instructed to ensure you internalize the feedback.
Take a deep breath before starting. Proceed at a smooth and methodical pace to ensure that you do not miss a simple step that could result in failing that station. Often missing a step is the result of trying to memorize the steps in the given order rather than fully understanding why one step follows another.
It can be helpful to state to the evaluator what you are about to do and then carry out the action. For example, if you have determined that someone requires CPR you could state “I am now going to start chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute while ensuring my compressions are hard enough to compress the chest 2 inches.” If the evaluator happens to be looking at their check list when you do something they could miss the skill and mark it as not completed but by verbalizing and then doing it you ensure they give you deserved credit.
Following these steps and reviewing your notes before taking an exam will ensure you pass and do well. The test may not be a matter of life or death but the skills you are learning are!
View sample questions below or try our free CPR practise test / interactive quiz online
You are a school counsellor and enter an empty classroom to find two 11 year olds, one of whom is unconscious, appears blue, and has labored gasping breathing. The victim’s friend tells you she collapsed after playing the “choking game”. What do you need to do?
- Correct Answer: Send the friend to call for help and check for a carotid pulse
- Provide abdominal thrusts.
- Perform CPR at 30:2 for 2 minutes and then send the victim’s friend to call 911.
- Leave the child, call for help, and have the friend start CPR.
If you are performing CPR on a child and their chest does not rise with the first breath, what should you do?
- Correct Answer: Adjust the airway and give your second breath
- Perform abdominal thrusts and look in the airway.
- Stop efforts to resuscitate the child.
- Attempt a second breath without changes.
What is the proper hand position when performing chest compressions on a 6 year old?
- Correct Answer: With one or two hands, lower half of breast bone.
- With two hands encircling the chest, thumbs on the beast bone.
- Two hands, upper third of the breast bone.
- Two hands, center of breast bone.
You are babysitting an 8 month old child who is crawling on the floor when they suddenly starts coughing and gagging. What should you do?
- Correct Answer: Closely observe the child in case the symptoms worsen, at which time you must take action.
- Provide rescue breaths.
- Alternate between 5 chest thrusts and 5 back blows until the object is expelled.
- Provide abdominal thrusts until the object is expelled.
What is the first link in the adult “chain of survival”?
- Correct Answer: Early recognition
- Preventing heart disease.
- Avoiding tobacco use.
- Early CPR
While in a store you see someone suddenly collapse. The victim is a middle-aged woman who is not responding, unconscious, and gasping occasionally. What is the most likely cause and appropriate treatment?
- Correct Answer: Cause: Sudden Cardiac Arrest Treatment: CPR, Defibrillation with an AED
- Cause: Stroke, Treatment: Calling for help
- Cause: Choking, Treatment: Back blows
- Cause: Low blood sugar, Treatment: force feeding the victim
You are helping an adult male who was thrown off a snow mobile at 50 MPH. He is unconscious and does not appear to be breathing. He does have a strong pulse. There is blood visible on both legs. How should you open the airway to give rescue breaths?
- Correct Answer: Jaw thrust, without tilting the neck
- Head tilt, chin lift
- Do not move the neck, use a CPR Mask
- Await professional help to arrive
While performing CPR your chest compressions should be:
- Correct Answer: Hard and fast, with as few interruptions as possible.
- Gentle and slow
- Hard but slow with frequent interruptions to check for a pulse
- Gentle but fast
A contractor is working on your home. He is electrocuted when his ladder touches a power line. He falls approximately 15′ on to soft grass. The scene is safe. The power line is intact and the ladder fell away from the patient. The patient is unconscious. An AED has been connected and advises that a shock should be delivered to the patient. What should you do?
- Correct Answer: Ensure everyone is clear of the patient and then deliver the shock.
- Perform CPR for 2 minutes and then shock the patient.
- Check for a pulse.
- Ignore the AED, perform rescue breathing.
While dining with a friend they suddenly grab their throat and cannot speak or make any sound. You ask if they are choking and they nod their head to indicate “yes”. How should you proceed?
- Correct Answer: Perform a series of rapid abdominal thrusts.
- Have them lay down and begin CPR.
- Encourage them to cough.
- Provide back blows.
More Sample CPR Test Questions (user submissions)
How many parts are there in CPR?
Answer: 4 parts – Airway, breathing, circulation, defibrillation.
What is the importance of recoil during compressions?
Answer: Recoil is vital during compressions because it enables heart refilling. If there is an incomplete recoil, there will be a reduction is the level of blood flow, which chest compressions create.
How far should a rescuer press down on an adult victim, when giving CPR with each compression?
Answer: One and a half to 2 inches pressing must be given straight down till the breastbone.
Duration needed for delivering a regular breath?
Answer: One second is required for delivering each breath. The rescuer should also ensure that enough air is delivered in order to enable chest of the victim to rise.
How many compressions must be delivered within 1 minute when giving adult CPR?
Answer: 100 compressions.
What is the ratio of compression – ventilation for an infant or child CPR?
Answer: The ratio should be 30:2
What is the ratio of compression – ventilation for adult CPR?
Answer: The ratio should be 30:2
As a rescuer, you must try minimizing interruptions that to less than how many seconds?
Answer: 10 seconds
When one man adult CPR is being performed, what should be the duration for checking the breathing of the victim?
Answer: Minimum 5 seconds and maximum of 10 seconds (not more, not less!)
When giving CPR to children and adolescent, how far should you pressing down on the victim?
Answer: The depth should be between 1/3 – ½ of the chest with every compression.
Give definition of cardiac arrest
Answer: Absence of breathing, with the presence of pulse.
When is the time CPR is highly effective?
Answer: CPR is highly effective when it is started immediately after a victim collapses.
What causes cardiac arrest on the most common level?
Answer: Respiratory arrest.
What are the 2 CPR indications?
Answer: Respiratory and Cardiac Arrests.
Give definition of respiratory arrest.
Answer: Absence of breathing, with the presence of pulse.
Give Chain of Survival’s four components?
Answer: Early access, early defibrillation, early CPR, early advanced care.
How many seconds are required for the completion of one CPR cycle?
Answer: 22 seconds.
What age group infants fall into?
Answer: between 1 month and 12 months;
What age group infants fall into?
Answer: children between 1 year old and within the puberty age, which is between 12 and 14 years of age.
Also, you might have to do questions like,
- Which airway obstruction is the most common one?
- How will as rescuer check the responsiveness of a victim?
- What technique is used for clearing the airway of the victim?
- What rule a rescuer should keep in mind, when giving compressions?
- For circulation, where you should check the victim’s pulse?
- What you should do, in order to check if a victim is still breathing or not?
- What you should do, if a victim is not responsive?
- What rule you should remember, when giving compressions?
- What you should do when administering ventilation on an unconscious victim?
- If a victim has dentures, what should you do?
- What you should do once you have dial 911 for reporting a cardiac arrest?