What you need to know about the EMT test

Student taking the EMT test.

Taking this test requires prior completion of an accredited EMT course, in which you will learn what you need to know to do well on the exam. There are two parts of the EMT exam: a multiple-choice “cognitive skills” test and a hands-on “psychomotor skills” test.

The cognitive portion is a “computer adaptive test,” which means that each person is given questions based on his/her answers to the preceding questions. The computer will stop testing you when either of these occurs:

  • The computer is 95% sure that you are at or above the competency standard for passing.
  • The computer is 95% sure that you do not meet the necessary level of competence to pass the test.

So, if the computer is sure of either scenario after 60 questions, your exam will end. If it is still not sure, the exam will continue until the computer is sure, or the maximum testing time of 2 hours is reached.

The questions are in no particular order of topic and subjects will be mixed throughout the test. However, the questions will come from the major concept areas of:

  • Airway, Respiration, and Ventilation
  • Cardiology and Resuscitation
  • Medical and Obstetrics/Gynecology
  • Trauma
  • EMS Operations

Additionally, inserted in the previously listed topic areas will be questions requiring knowledge of pharmacology, patient assessment, and pediatrics. You should also take time to review these areas of study, as you prepare for our practice tests and the official testing session.

You will be assessed on psychomotor tasks throughout your EMT coursework. During this time, you will need to prove that you can perform these tasks: patient assessment/management of a trauma patient, patient assessment/management of a medical patient, cardiac arrest management/AED, bag-valve-mask ventilation of an apneic patient, spinal immobilization (both seated and supine patient), long bone fracture immobilization, joint dislocation immobilization, traction splinting, bleeding control/shock management, upper airway adjuncts and suction, mouth-to-mouth ventilation with supplemental oxygen, and supplemental oxygen administration to a breathing patient.

Additionally, you must pass a psychomotor exam certified by your state. For information about the psychomotor exam, contact your EMT course instructor or state EMS office.

If you pass the exam, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) will simply send you certification credentials. If you do not pass the test, you will be sent a detailed analysis of your strengths and weaknesses. This will enable you to study further in areas of difficulty, as assessed by the exam. When you retake the exam, you will not see any of the items you missed the first time. They will be “masked” by the computer.

You may take the NREMT test up to three times without further training. After that, you must prove completion of remedial training to retake another three times. Following the sixth unsuccessful attempt, you will be required to retake the entire EMT training course before retesting.

What are the costs?

The application fee for the EMT test is $70.00 and this must be paid for each attempt at the cognitive skills section of the test.

What should I bring?

When you have registered for the EMT exam online, you will receive access to specific information about items you need to bring to the testing site and those items that are prohibited during testing. This will vary, depending on the testing site’s rules and regulations.

What kind of job can I get?

People with emergency care certification provide a bridge between what may seem like a hopeless situation and definitive medical care in a healthcare facility. They are the people who first see, care for, and transport the sick and injured in emergency situations. There are four levels of emergency care certification listed here in order of skill level:

  • Emergency Medical Responder
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Advanced EMT
  • Paramedic

Our test prep materials cover concepts tested for the second category of certification on this list: the Emergency Medical Technician. An EMT provides the backbone of the emergency care services in this country. This certification requires competency in basic life support, airway usage skills, use of automated external defibrillators, and certain medication assistance.

Am I eligible?

You must be at least 18 years old and have successfully completed an approved EMT training course within the past 2 years. There are several other avenues for testing eligibility and information about recertification. You can find more information here.

Why does it matter?

Agencies who hire Emergency Medical Technicians want to be sure their employees are competent in administering emergency care. Some states may have additional or alternate EMT certification requirements, but most states require a person to attain a certain level of performance on the National Registry of EMTs exam, or a similar state exam. This certification makes one eligible for a license, which is required for EMT employment.

What salary can I expect?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for emergency care workers is growing faster than the average occupation. The average yearly pay for EMTs and Paramedics in 2015 ranged from about $20,000 to over $55,000.

When is it available?

You must log in to the National Registry of EMTs to apply to take this test. Then, you will be given an “authorization to test” and information regarding test sites and dates. You may access the application process here.

Time Allowed

The maximum time allowed for the EMT exam is 2 hours. During this time, you will be given anywhere from 70 to 120 questions, depending on your responses. Do not assume that you performed either very well or very poorly if your test is short. The test will be different for every person and you should just attempt to answer every question to the best of your ability.

Practice using our expertly crafted questions!