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Exam information

What you need to know about the Medical Assistant test

There are currently four basic medical assistant certification tests available, each offered by a different certifying agency. Click the test link to read more about each one.

  • CMA: Certified Medical Assistant (American Association of Medical Assistants)

  • RMA: Registered Medical Assistant (American Medical Technologists)

  • NCMA: National Certified Medical Assistant (National Center for Competency Testing

  • CCMA: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (National Healthcareer Association)

You will certainly want to investigate each option, as it relates to your personal career goals and the requirements of prospective employers. For a quick run-down on the similarities and differences among the four tests, see this comparison chart:

Stands for Certified Medical Assistant Registered Medical Assistant National Certified Medical Assistant Certified Clinical Medical Assistant
Offered by American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) American Medical Technologists (AMT) National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
Accredited by National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA); independent accreditation by International Accreditation Service (IAS) for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA); Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)
Features Most widely recognized medical assistant certification Several paths to eligibility Personalized customer service and support Recently enriched content
Eligibility Within 30 days before and 12 months after completing a medical assistant program accredited by either the CAAHEP or the ABHES; “Non-recent graduates” (within 36 months of testing) of a CAAHEP or ABHES-certified program; Medical assistants seeking recertification who have previously passed the exam within the mandated time frames Students or recent graduates of an accredited medical assisting program in the last 4 years; Graduates of a formal medical assisting training program offered by the U.S. military; A professional medical assistant who has been employed in the industry for 5 of the past 7 years; An instructor of an accredited medical assistant program for 5 years One of 3 categories of qualification: Approved Medical Asst. training program in the past 5 years; 2 years of professional experience as medical asst. in the past 5 years; Medical assistant training with the U.S. military in the past 5 years High school diploma/equivalent; Medical Asst. training OR Work Experience pathways; Provisional certification available for high school students
Testing sites Prometric Testing sites Pearson VUE testing centers and some schools Authorized testing sites, including schools and U.S. military bases Schools and PSI Exams Online testing centers
Format Computer (tutorial available) Computer at Pearson VUE; contact school for format Computer or paper/pencil Computer (tutorial available) at most locations or paper/pencil at some locations
Cost $125 for AAMA members or graduates of approved programs; $250 for others $150 $119 (First rescheduling free; subsequent rescheduling $10) $155 (Rescheduling free if within 6 months)
Exam Content General: Medical terminology, Psychology, Professionalism, Communication, Legal and Ethics, Risk Management; Administrative: Reception, records, office management, finances, and insurance; Clinical: Anatomy and Physiology, infection control, pharmacology, equipment and treatment, patient intake and prep, assisting provider, specimens and testing, medication, emergencies and first aid, nutrition General Medical Assisting Knowledge, Administrative Medical Assisting, Clinical Medical Assisting, ECG and Other Diagnostic Tests, General Office Procedures, Law and Ethics, Medical Office General Management, Medical Procedures, Office Financial Management, Billing, Insurance, Pharmacology, Phlebotomy Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science, including healthcare systems, medical terminology, basic pharmacology, nutrition, psychology, Anatomy and Physiology, Clinical Patient Care and Education, including phlebotomy, EKG, and lab procedures, Medical Law and Ethics, Administrative Assisting, Communication and Customer Service Multiple-choice, hotspot, drag and drop, and multi-select questions
Test Specifics Four 40-minute sections, with optional 20-minute total of breaks between sections; 200 multiple-choice questions, 180 count toward score 210 multiple-choice questions/2.0 hours 150 scored questions and 15 unscored items/3 hours 150 scored and 30 pre-test questions/3 hours
Passing Score 430 (subject to change) Possible score of 0-100, with 70 as the passing score Possible score of 0-100, with 70 as the passing score Possible score of 200-500, with 390 as the passing score
Retakes Three attempts allowed for first time candidates May retake 45 days after failed exam and retake it 3 times 4 attempts allowed; must wait 30 days before #2 and #3 and 1 year before #4. 3 attempts allowed, with 30 days in between; after that, the candidate must wait 1 year before attempting the test again
Good for 5 years 3 years 1 year “active status”; 5 years “inactive status” 2 years
Renewal Requirements Retake exam or earn continuing ed. credits Proof of a combination of experience, continuing education, leadership, and compliance with standards; pay yearly fee Active status can be extended with continuing education hours each year. Inactive status expires if not reactivated within 5 years and you must begin the certification process again Documentation of 10 continuing education credits required every 2 years (If you do not recertify within 3 years, you must begin the certification/examination process again.)
Validity Valid in all states Recognized nationally and by state societies Recognized by facilities across the country Candidates should contact the health oversight body in their state for information about the validity of this certification. Be sure to seek current information as this may change with the newer form of this test

Regardless of which of the four tests you choose, our medical assistant test prep materials will guide you through the preparation process. We have incorporated content from all four tests in our medical assistant practice questions, flashcards, and study guides.

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Exam facts

Answers to all your questions about the Medical Assistant test

Table of Contents

What are the costs?

The cost of taking a medical assistant test can range from $90.00 upward to around $250.00, depending on the test and other circumstances. See the comparison chart for further details.

What should I bring?

When you have registered for your particular medical assistant test, you will have access to a list of materials required for, and prohibited during, the test session(s). These items will vary, depending on the format of the test you take (online or paper/pencil) and the testing situation.

How is it scored?

Your possible score on these tests varies. More information on scoring for each test is also available on our comparison chart, linked above.

What kind of job can I get?

Physicians and clinics are learning that a good medical assistant can perform many office and clinical tasks. This assistance allows the doctors and nurses to see more patients and gives them time to do more of the things for which they were trained. Even more employment opportunities are available with additional specialty certification. The employment outlook for medical assistants is excellent for the foreseeable future, with an anticipated 24% increase in positions over the next 10 years.

Am I eligible?

All four of the medical assistant tests have a prerequisite of a high school diploma/equivalent and training in the field of healthcare assistance. You will want to be sure your program of study satisfies the requirements of the test for which you prepare. More information about this is available in the handbook for each test.

Why does it matter?

While you may be able to get a medical assisting job without some type of certification, most healthcare employers are now looking for certified individuals to fill open positions. There are several reasons for this. Certification tells them that the candidate has met certain requirements for training and exhibits a higher level of skill than the non-certified person. Also, many insurance and data systems limit data entry to certified medical professionals. A medical assistant certification will enable you to qualify for, and secure, the best positions in this growing field.

What salary can I expect?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, medical assistants can expect faster than average career growth and a median salary of $42,000 per year, or $20.19 per hour. Additional specialty certifications can increase your earnings in this occupation.

When is it available?

Medical assistant testing may be done in cooperation with your instructional institution or you may need to go to a testing center for completion, depending on the particular test and the form that you take.

How much time is allowed?

Any of the medical assistant tests will require approximately a 2- to 3-hour commitment of time. Some are divided into sections, with the possibility of short breaks in between. Other tests may be administered in one continuous block of time.

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