10 Essential Test Prep Tips to Help You Pass the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Exam
Thousands of physicians around the world rely on Medical Assistants, whose job it is to organize their medical offices, organize patient records, and assist them in several of their day-to-day responsibilities. Without these vital workers, hospitals and medical offices would literally grind to a halt.
For this reason, the Medical Assistant field is rapidly growing as healthcare needs expand, practices grow, and offices seek help to keep up with it all.
(Click here to learn how to become a Medical Assistant).
Medical Assistants are one of the few healthcare positions that are not required to hold special certification or licenses to practice. However, choosing to earn one of the optional Medical Assisting certifications can open you up to more jobs and higher pay opportunities.
There are multiple MA certifications available, as detailed in our breakdown of top Medical Assisting certifications, and each one has its own unique advantages and requirements.
For this article, we examine the RMA (Registered Medical Assistant) Certification by detailing everything you need to know about this exam. Continue reading to learn how to best prepare for, take, and pass the RMA exam on your first try.
What is the RMA Certification Exam?
The RMA certification is the second-most recognized certification for Medical Assistants. While the CMA exam was established first (and is more widely known), the RMA covers much of the same material and provides an excellent demonstration of your skills as a Medical Assistant.
The RMA certification is provided through the AMT (American Medical Technologists), an organization founded in 1939 whose rigorous standards and accreditation have established them as a leader in medical certification. Passing the RMA certification exam earns Medical Assistants the endorsement of the AMT, which is accepted in all 50 states.
How Long is the RMA Certification Exam?
Test takers are given two hours to complete the RMA certification exam—with no regularly scheduled breaks—and the full exam consists of 210 questions.
However, if special testing accommodations are required (such as break periods, an audio test, oral interpreter, or extended testing time), the AMT will consider these cases if submitted in writing ahead of the test date.
What’s the Value of RMA Certification?
While Medical Assisting certification is optional in most places, having the certification remains highly valuable. Although many states may not require certification, many employers do. And for employers who don’t require certification, a certified candidate can stand out much better from other applicants in the hiring process.
The purpose of the RMA exam, according to the AMT, is to “help protect the welfare of the public by maintaining competency standards in these occupations.”
In other words, passing the RMA certification exam tells your future employers that you:
- Understand the essential skills required for your work.
- Can complete the tasks you will be assigned.
- Will be able to serve patients adequately and with limited liability.
What is on the RMA Certification Exam?
Students taking the RMA will be graded on three main areas of knowledge: general medical knowledge, administrative knowledge, and clinical medical testing.
- Under General Medical Knowledge, the exam includes:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Law
- Human Relations
- Under Administrative Knowledge, the exam covers:
- Medical Reception
- Medical Records
- And under Clinical Medical Testing, the exam covers:
- Instruments and Related Tools
- Laboratory Procedures
RMA Exam Requirements
What are the Prerequisites for the RMA Exam?
The RMA requirements are slightly broader than the CMA requirements. In some cases, work experience may substitute for academic study to qualify for the exam. Requirements for the RMA include the following:
- Graduation from an approved Medical Assisting program. This program must be approved by the US Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or by the AMT board of directors.
- OR graduation from a formal medical training service in the US military.
- OR candidates with five years of experience as a Medical Assistant.
- OR candidates who hold another Medical Assisting certificate from a qualified organization.
How Do I Register for the RMA Exam?
The first step in registering for the RMA certification exam is to visit the American Medical Technologists website.
You’ll first be asked to confirm prerequisites and eligibility. The website details what experience and/or education is required for each route. Once you’ve chosen (and confirmed) your route of eligibility, you’ll be able to formally apply.
RMA Exam Fee
How Much Does the RMA Exam Cost?
Registration for the RMA exam costs $135.
To pay the RMA exam fee, you will need to create an account on the AMT website. There, you’ll also be asked to upload documentation confirming your eligibility.
It typically takes up to one or two weeks to receive a response to your certification application. Once approved, you’ll receive an email from the AMT with the next steps to schedule your exam at a local testing center.
How Do I Study for the RMA Exam?
Whether you are applying for the RMA as a recent graduate or as an uncertified Medical Assistant with relevant work experience, you’re undoubtedly already familiar with the material on the exam. The trick now is learning how to turn that existing knowledge into the correct answers—and hopefully pass the exam on your first try.
The following RMA test-prep tips should help you prepare for the exam:
1. Know the Exam Topics:
The AMT not only provides a thorough breakdown of every topic of the exam here and a list of reference material here, but the organization also offers study modules on its website. For a small fee (ranging from $40 to $75), students can study specific modules from the exam by clicking here.
2. Identify Your Weak Points:
As you look through the exam contents, make a mark next to the topics you feel less confident about. Review everything, of course, but plan to spend extra time on the areas where you might feel a little shaky.
3. Schedule Study Times:
Just like scheduling classes during a college semester, be sure to schedule time each week to work on your RMA exam preparation. Remove all distractions and make sure your family and friends respect your time and space when studying.
4. Spread It Out:
Decide ahead of time the topics you’d like to review during your study periods. This not only allows you to allocate more time to your weaker subjects, but it helps prevent procrastination and cramming at the last minute.
5. Take RMA Practice Tests:
The AMT not only provides study materials, but they also allow test takers to practice with two full-length exams (available on their website here for $30). The practice exams closely mirror the content of the actual exams, and simulated timers and algorithms help give you the best idea of what to expect once you step into the exam room.
6. Learn Multiple Choice Strategies:
Multiple choice exams are as much about eliminating the wrong answers as identifying the correct ones. There’s a strategy to taking these tests, and the better you know the format, the better you’ll do. Check out this multiple choice strategy guide as a jumping-off point.
7. Take Care of Yourself:
Get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and avoid stress as much as possible. Remember, no amount of worry will add a single point to your exam score. Take care of yourself to make sure you’re in the best mental shape possible before the big test.
8. Talk to People Who Have Taken the RMA Exam:
What tips do they have? What stood out to them most? What do they regret most? Sit down with someone who’s taken the exam to get a personal breakdown of what to expect.
9. Use the Bathroom:
Use the bathroom before beginning the exam. You’d be surprised how many people forget to do this.
How Hard is the RMA Certification Exam?
The RMA certification exam is 210 questions given over the course of two hours. The test will be scored on a scale of 1 to 100, with 70 as a passing score for the exam.
While the exact pass/fail statistics aren’t widely available for the RMA certification exam, the RMA is considered to be less difficult than the CMA due to the exam being shorter in time, as well as in the number of questions.
Additionally, RMA exam questions are asked randomly—by both topic and difficulty—so determining an exact level of difficulty can be elusive. By studying hard and knowing the material, you should easily pass this exam on your first shot.
How Many Times Can You Take the RMA Exam?
Candidates can take the RMA exam up to three times for their initial certification. For each attempt, however, you will be required to fill out a new application and re-pay the examination fee.
Candidates must also wait 45 days between each attempt.
How Do I Renew my RMA Certification?
RMA certification does need to be maintained, and maintenance is done in two ways: annual fees and Continued Certification Points (CCP) every three years.
- Annual Fees: Maintaining an RMA certification requires membership in the AMT, which costs a fee of $60 per year for RMA certification holders.
- 3-Year CCP Requirements: In addition to the yearly fees, maintaining an RMA certification also requires Continued Certification Points (CCP). These points are due at the end of every three-year cycle and can be earned by taking CE (Continuing Education) courses, attending relevant meetings and training, and approved webinars. Points can be recorded by individuals and uploaded every three years, or points can be recorded on the go using the AMTrax system on the AMT website.
RMA Sample Quiz
To judge for yourself the difficulty of the exam, here are a few sample questions from the AMT practice exam. Two official practice exams can be purchased directly from the AMT for $30 at this link.
(Please find the answers at the bottom of this article).
- Which of these would be best placed under the heading of “medical etiquette?”
a) The way you talk to a patient
b) The way you decide on a patient’s treatment
c) Obeying the law regarding patient confidentiality
d) The way a patient’s medical fees are calculated
- A palpation examination is performed by…?
d) Drawing fluid
- Which body part is not part of the acronym EENT?
- What area(s) of the brain are the most affected if a person is unable to understand written or verbal speech?
a) Weirnecke’s area
b) Broca’s area
c) Occipital lobe
d) Parietal lobe
e) A and B
- Which of these terms means stopping breathing?
- What would result following an injury to the phrenic nerve?
a) An inability to stand
b) An irregular heart rate
c) An inability to control breathing
d) An increase in body temperature
e) An increase in facial spasms
- In law, what does “respondeat superior” mean?
a) An employer can be held responsible for employee actions
b) Employers are not responsible for employee actions
c) Only employers are responsible for employee actions
d) Employees are the only ones responsible for their actions
- What is a “tickler” system used for?
a) To interrogate the patient database
b) To alert staff to database errors
c) To organize patient billing
d) To remind patients of appointments
- Who has ownership of a patient’s medical records?
a) The care provider
b) The insurance company
c) The patient
d) The state medical board
- A patient release is required if you are sending the patient’s medical records to another party using which of these methods?
a) Registered mail
c) Motorcycle courier
d) Hand delivery
Final Thoughts on the Registered Medical Assistant Certification Exam
Becoming a Medical Assistant can open doors to many new and rewarding job opportunities and getting certified, while not typically required, can help you seize those opportunities.
By completing your RMA certification, you earn the backing of the AMT certification board and can apply for work with confidence, having proven that you are more than competent to begin work in the medical field.
Of course, learning doesn’t stop after the exam ends, so remember to keep an open mind, look for opportunities to learn, opportunities to teach others, and for new and better ways to serve your patients.
ANSWERS TO RMA PRACTICE QUIZ
1) A 2) A 3) C 4) A 5) D 6) C 7) A 8) D 9) A 10) B