Two medical students sitting together

How to Pass the CMAA Exam

Everything You Need to Know about the CMAA Exam

Two medical students sitting together

Certified Medical Administrative Assistants (CMAAs) provide critical support for physicians and nurses by assisting with both clinical and administrative tasks, ensuring that medical offices and organizations run smoothly and efficiently. According to the National Healthcareer Association’s citation of Industry Outlook, 75% of employers require or encourage certification for medical administrative assistants. Earning certification helps candidates meet employer requirements, access better career opportunities, maximize their earning potential, and enhance their knowledge and skills in the healthcare industry. In this increasingly competitive field, formal medical assistant training can better prepare candidates for greater job opportunities throughout their careers.

Read how to become a medical assistant if you want to learn more about the responsibilities, educational requirements, and job outlook of medical administrative assistants.

What is the CMAA Exam?

How Long is the CMAA Exam?

The CMAA exam refers to the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant exam. It is a certification examination designed to assess the knowledge and skills of individuals seeking to become medical administrative assistants. The exact number of questions on the CMAA exam may vary, as the exam content can change over time. However, typically, the exam consists of around 200 multiple-choice questions. The duration of the CMAA exam also varies, but it usually lasts around three hours. This time does not include any breaks that may be allowed during the exam.

CMAA Exam Eligibility

To be eligible to take the CMAA exam, a candidate must first possess a high school diploma or GED/high school equivalency. Then they must have completed a medical administrative assistant training or education program within the last five years or one year of supervised work experience in the medical administrative assistant field within the last three years.

How Do I Register for the CMAA Exam?

To register for the CMAA exam, visit the website of the certifying organization that offers the exam, such as the National Healthcareer Association. This exam is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and updated regularly, ensuring that students have the most job-relevant knowledge and skills. They will also provide instructions and guidelines on the registration process, including any required documentation, fees, and deadlines. The CMA exam generally costs $125 to take.

How Do I Study for the CMAA?

Sample Multiple Choice Questions You Might Find on the Exam

To study for the CMAA exam, you can follow these steps:

  • Understand the exam format. Knowing the types of questions that will be on the exam and how they will be formatted can help you better prepare.
  • Study the content. Make sure you understand the material that will be covered on the exam. Review your notes and practice questions.
  • Use study aids. There are many resources available to help you prepare for the exam, such as flashcards, study guides, and practice tests.
  • Create a study schedule. Make sure you have enough time to study and prepare for the exam.
  • Stay organized. Keep track of important dates and deadlines, such as registration and exam dates.
  • Get enough sleep. Make sure you are well-rested when you take the exam.
  • Take a practice test. It’s important to take a practice test before the actual exam to help you identify areas where you need to focus your studying.
  • Stay calm. Remember to stay calm and take your time during the exam.
  • Seek help if needed. If you need help studying or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your instructor or a study group.

Aerial view of HIPAA sign and medical symbols

Which of the following is not one of the patient’s rights provided by HIPAA?

  1. a) Right to notice of a facility’s privacy practices
  2. b) Right to receive notice of all disclosures of PHI
  3. c) Right to obtain the original medical record
  4. d) Right to have access to, view, and obtain a copy of their PHI

The Medical Assistant should collect which of the following when a new patient comes to the office?

  1. a) Patient information sheet
  2. b) Copy of insurance card, front and back
  3. c) Copy of driver’s license
  4. d) All of the above

The division of the federal government that enforces privacy standards is:

  1. a) OSHA
  2. b) HIPAA
  3. c) OCR
  4. d) OIG

The medical record should be released only with a:

  1. a) Verbal order from the physician
  2. b) Written order from the physician
  3. c) Written release from the patient
  4. d) Verbal order from the office manager

How Do You Pass the CMAA Exam?

What is the Passing Score?

To pass the CMAA exam, it is important to prepare adequately and develop a solid understanding of the exam content. The passing score for the CMAA exam is typically determined by the certifying organization administering the test. It may vary, but generally, a score of 70% or higher is required to pass. That means candidates must obtain a score of at least 360 on a scale of 0-500. In other words, you don’t have to get every question correct to pass—you just need to demonstrate competency in the content areas.

Here are some basic tips for passing the exam:

  • Study comprehensively: Ensure you cover all the relevant topics and subtopics outlined in the exam content. Understand the key concepts, procedures, and regulations related to medical administrative assisting.
  • Focus on areas of weakness: Identify your weak areas and dedicate extra study time to improve your understanding in those areas.
  • Take practice exams: Use practice exams to simulate the exam environment and assess your readiness. Pay attention to the explanations for incorrect answers to improve your knowledge.

The difficulty level of the CMAA exam can vary depending on an individual’s background, preparation, and familiarity with the subject matter. With thorough studying and adequate preparation, many individuals are able to pass the exam successfully. However, it is generally regarded as a comprehensive and rigorous exam that assesses the knowledge and skills required for medical administrative assistants.

Subjects and Procedures Covered in the CMAA Exam

The CMAA exam typically covers a range of topics related to medical administrative assisting. These topics are organized within seven basic domains. The content may include areas such as medical office management, medical terminology, medical coding and billing, medical records management, legal and ethical considerations, healthcare regulations, insurance and reimbursement, communication skills, and customer service in a medical setting. These domains aim to ensure they are prepared to work as a medical administrative assistant.

Here are the various subjects and sub-topics that are covered by the CMAA exam:

Group of medical students at a university

Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science

  • Types of healthcare organizations and delivery
  • The relationship between front office staff and clinical processes and procedures
  • The types of health records and their uses
  • The electronic health record (EHR) and electronic medical record (EMR) components
  • Medical terminology
  • Basic anatomy and physiology

Communication and Customer Service

  • Clarify and relay communications between patients and providers
  • Modify verbal and non-verbal communication for diverse audiences
  • Prepare written/electronic communications/business correspondence
  • Engage in crucial conversations (with patients, staff, and providers)
  • Engage in interviewing and questioning techniques
  • Barriers to communication

Medical Law, Ethics, and Compliance

  • Informed consent
  • Comply with legal and regulatory requirements
  • Adhere to professional codes of ethics
  • Obtain, review, and comply with medical directives
  • Protect patient privacy and confidentiality, including medical records
  • Adhere to legal requirements regarding reportable violations or incidents
  • Healthcare proxies
  • Legal requirements
  • Identifying your personal biases to minimize their impact on your ability to provide unbiased care to diverse populations

Administrative Assisting and Scheduling

  • Schedule and monitor patient appointments using electronic and paper-based systems
  • Verify insurance coverage and financial eligibility
  • Identify patients and check them in and out of appointments
  • Obtain and verify authorizations and pre-certifications
  • Policies and procedures
  • Filing systems
  • Petty cash management
  • Reconciliation
  • Telephone procedures
  • Business correspondence
  • Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) compliance procedures
  • Inventory management
  • Data storage and backup requirements
  • Medical record quality checks
  • Delivery management

Billing and Revenue Cycle

  • Phases of the revenue cycle
  • Healthcare payment models
  • Financial assistance programs
  • The difference between Medicare and Medicaid
  • Third-party payer
  • Clearinghouse and claim scrubbing processes
  • Charge reconciliation
  • Billing documentation
  • Resolution of billing issues

Patient Care Coordination and Education

  • Review patient record prior to visit
  • Collaborate with healthcare providers and organizations
  • Assist providers in coordinating care with community agencies
  • Facilitate patient compliance to optimize health outcomes
  • Participate in transition of care for patients

Female medical students studying in a classroom

Educational and Training Options to Prepare for the Exam

The cost of taking the CMAA exam can vary depending on the organization or institution offering the certification. The fees associated with the exam may include registration fees, examination fees, and possibly additional fees for study materials or practice exams.

To determine the exact cost of taking the CMAA exam, it is recommended to visit the website of the certifying organization or contact them directly. They will have the most up-to-date information regarding the fees and payment methods associated with the exam. However, generally, you can expect to find online study guides for approximately 60 dollars, practice exams for 45 dollars, or packages that bundle both and which tend to be the best value at 78 dollars.

How Many Times Can You Take the CMAA Exam?

In general, certifying organizations typically allow candidates to retake the exam if they do not pass on their first attempt. However, there may be limitations on the number of retakes allowed within a certain period and additional fees associated with retaking the exam. Generally, candidates are allowed three attempts to pass before they must repeat their medical assistant course.

It is important to carefully review the policies and guidelines provided by the certifying organization to understand the retake options and requirements for the CMAA exam.

Renewing Certification

Certifications must be renewed every two years by completing 10 continuing education (CE) credits. If the certification has expired, medical assistants have one year to reinstate it.

Learn more on how to become a Medical Assistant, and explore educational programs, such as the Medical Assisting program at Brookline College to gain the relevant skills and knowledge to pursue a career in medical assisting. In addition, check out alternative careers for Medical Assistants, to see all the available options for a career in this dynamic and collaborative healthcare profession. Once you’ve completed a medical assisting program, take the CMAA exam to get certified.