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The Definitive Practice Test Guide for the Medical Assistant test

About the Medical Assistant Test

For individuals pursuing a career as a medical assistant, there are several different options regarding certification. There are four different exams that are offered from the various certifying agencies. They are:

These four exams have many similarities and some differences. Each one of them is designed to assess the competency and knowledge of potential medical assistants after they have completed the required education. They are all timed for a total of two to three hours. They all have different eligibility requirements, and they range in price from $119 to $250.

You should look at the regional requirements and those posted by prospective employers about what certification each requires. Some tests are recognized nationally, while others may not be accepted in certain states. You will want to identify which test is best for your area and your career goals before making a selection.

Despite their differences, the four exams have questions that will address similar content and knowledge, including but not limited to: General Medical Assisting Knowledge, Administrative Knowledge, Clinical Knowledge, Medical Laws and Ethics, and other topics that are central to a medical assistant’s daily duties. It’s crucial that you study and prepare for all of these content areas prior to taking a medical assistant test.

Sections of the Medical Assistant test

Anatomy and Physiology

Many tasks of a medical assistant require general knowledge of the body and how it works. It is also important to know how the various body systems interact with one another and to what diseases each is prone. You also need to understand a bit about things you cannot see, like microorganisms and cells. Anatomy and physiology questions on a medical assistant test will assess your knowledge in all of these areas.

Diagnostic Tests

A medical assistant can do many things to assist with the testing of patients and this testing can play a major role in the doctor’s ability to treat the patient appropriately. A diagnostic test is used to help assess the condition of the patient. There is much to learn about test procedures, including precautions to keep you safe while you are doing the tests. Other protocols ensure that the test results are absolutely accurate and help other medical professionals to use the results in a meaningful way. Finally, a medical assistant must do everything possible to protect the patient’s safety and well-being. This includes giving reassuring explanations of the procedures being done.

Financial Management and Insurance

Medical assistants are expected to help with clerical tasks in a medical office, which often includes managing payments and insurance. A certain amount of financial knowledge is needed in order to balance the books and keep track of monetary resources. Managing insurance claims and payments requires additional knowledge of vocabulary and proper procedures. A tremendous amount of data changes hands each day in a medical office and a medical assistant can play a large part in the process. Try our Financial Management and Insurance questions and see how much you know!

Law and Ethics

Basic knowledge of right and wrong would seem to be enough to assist in a medical office. There are, however, numbers of laws that have been passed to ensure the rights of all involved: the patients, practitioners, and support personnel. There are rules concerning who is certified for various jobs and tasks and there are rigid guidelines about the release of information. You must know and follow these laws and rules in order to work as a medical assistant. Test your knowledge of this subject with our Law and Ethics practice questions.

Medical Office Management

The day-to-day of medical office management is possible only with a team approach by various people, doing various jobs. As a medical assistant, you may be responsible for some of the management functions of the office. This could include basic housekeeping and maintenance duties, as well as maintaining patient relationships. Computers play a big role in today’s medical office operation, so you need to know how to use their various functions, including scheduling, maintaining patient records, and other file maintenance.

Medical Procedures

A medical assistant is often called upon to help with routine medical procedures in the office setting. To do this well, you must be familiar with instruments, safety measures, and record-keeping guidelines. Part of your job may also involve patient intake and the measuring of vital signs. This requires accuracy in both measurement and recording. It also assumes you know the procedure for dealing with measurements that could indicate an emergency.


While medical assistants cannot prescribe medication, they are often asked to help with its administration. It is important to know the various drug administration routes and the proper procedure for using each one. Familiarity with the law is an important part of your pharmacology training because prescription drugs are regulated and classified a certain way. Some prescriptions have additional issuing requirements and you need to know those. Your knowledge of the fine differences in the names of drugs is important for patient safety.


Blood samples are taken from patients for many reasons. There are a number of variables in the collection process that can affect test results and the usefulness of the sample. To fully understand phlebotomy, you need to know about site selection, the order of drawing blood for several different tubes, and the proper labeling and storing of those tubes. Then, there are important patient considerations, such as age, disability, emotional state, and proper preparation for the test. All of these things may be your responsibility as a medical assistant.

Psychology and Communication

A big part of a medical assistant’s job is dealing with people, thus a basic understanding of human psychology will help. Being able to understand a patient’s state of mind often comes from actively listening to him or her and combining that with your knowledge of typical psychological responses to life events. Then, you will need to communicate important information in a way that promotes active listening on the patient’s part. These communication skills will also aid you in being an effective part of a medical team. Test your knowledge know with our Psychology and Communication practice questions.

What to Expect on Test Day

While taking a medical assistant test can be nerve-racking, it always helps if you are adequately prepared and you have an idea of what to expect on exam day. Depending upon the test you are taking, it may be administered by computer or you may receive a paper-and-pencil version. It’s a good idea to check with your testing center beforehand to determine what type of test you are taking and determine any other details you may need to know, such as when to arrive and what the center requires to check-in (e.g., identification, payment, and certification).

What to Bring

At a minimum, you should always bring a valid, government-issued form of identification such as a driver’s license or identification card. If you are taking a paper-and-pencil exam, you may also need to bring sharpened #2 pencils and scratch paper. If you are uncertain about what is required, it’s best to check with the testing center beforehand.

What Not to Bring

Most testing sites prohibit electronics such as cellular phones, tablets, smart devices, and calculators (unless you have been instructed to bring one), as well as study aids, such as books, reference materials, and study guides. Many testing sites also prohibit food and beverages, and unnecessary personal items. If you are unsure whether to bring a particular item or you have a condition that requires an exception be made, it is best to contact the testing center directly before your exam day for further instruction.

Best Ways to Study for the Medical Assistant Test

Take Practice Tests

All four medical assistant tests have content that should have been learned during your medical assistant educational courses. These exams look at your accumulated knowledge and cover a broad spectrum of topics. One of the best ways to ensure that you are prepared to ace the exam is to take many practice tests. Medical assistant practice tests help to identify all of the content that needs to be studied, and on which areas you should spend more time focusing. These practice tests can also give you an idea of the format and types of questions you can expect on the day of the actual exam—all of which can help you give your best performance.

Use Alternative Study Methods

The medical assistant tests cover an incredibly wide range of topics and for this reason, many examinees find it helpful to incorporate alternative study methods into their routine, such as study guides and flashcards. These alternative formats can help to shake up your routine, keep you engaged with the content, and help you to retain information better.

Simulate the Medical Assistant Testing Experience

In addition to varying your study routine, it’s also a good idea to simulate the entire testing experience at least once or twice before taking your exam. All four medical assistant tests are timed, with some having timed sections. Simulating the overall testing experience will give you a better idea of how to pace yourself as you complete the actual exam and it will help give you an idea of how you will perform under pressure - which can generally ease pre-test anxiety.

Medical Assistant Test Tips and Tricks

Develop a Comprehensive Study Plan

All of the medical assistant tests cover a huge range of topics. Studying to succeed on these tests often takes time. It’s always best to spend a chunk of time studying each day in the weeks or months leading up to the exam, rather than trying to cram it all in at the last minute. Studying over a longer period also gives you more of a chance to strengthen your knowledge in weaker subjects, which can also lead to a better score.

Research the Test Thoroughly

While the four exams are fundamentally similar, there are minor differences in how they are timed and what content they cover. It’s a good idea to make sure you have the current testing information and section breakdown for the exam you intend to take. This will ensure that you study the right material and know how long you will have for each section (if the sections are timed). Walking into the testing center on your exam day and finding out that your expectations don’t match reality is one way to throw off your confidence and potentially sabotage your performance - so find out as much info as you can about your chosen exam ahead of time.

Learn to Eliminate Answers

All four of the medical assistant tests have multiple-choice questions. You may or may not be able to finish the questions you know first and return to harder ones after, depending upon whether you have a paper-and-pencil or computerized exam. Either way, it’s a good idea to practice your ability to narrow down answers for better strategic guessing on the ones you don’t know. This process gives you better odds at guessing the correct answer.

Medical Assistant Test FAQ:

1. How do I know which medical assistant test to take?

There are four different medical assistant tests. The one that is best suited for you to take will be determined by which ones are accepted by local regulatory bodies and employers. You will want to do some research into which one is best before making a decision, since the wrong certification can impact your ability to secure employment.

2. What is a good score on the medical assistant test?

There are variations in how each of the four exams are scored. You can find additional details on required scores from this medical assistant test comparison chart.

3. Are all four medical assistant tests recognized nationally?

The CMA and RMA are recognized nationally. The NCMA is recognized by facilities across the country. The CCMA is recognized in certain areas of the country. You should check with your health oversight body in your state to inquire about the validity of this certification.

4. What are the eligibility requirements for the medical assistant tests?

The specific eligibility requirements will vary across all four of the exams, although each of them has a prerequisite of a high school diploma or its equivalent and education and training in the field of healthcare assistance.