Advance Your Medical Assisting Career by Earning the Registered Medical Assistant Certification
Medical Assistants (MAs) can often find better jobs and advance their careers by earning optional certifications. Certification can demonstrate that they possess the knowledge and skills needed to excel at their job. Some employers require these credentials for all new MAs.
The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification is among the two most popular certifications that many top employers require. As a result, the RMA exam was featured in our article about the five best Medical Assistant certifications for your career. The report provides an overview of certification options and some of the advantages of each.
The RMA exam is offered through American Medical Technologists (AMT). This article serves as an RMA exam study guide that includes more detailed information on the format and content of the exam, as well as valuable RMA exam tips and study suggestions on how to pass the RMA exam the first time.
What is the RMA Exam?
The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam, provided by American Medical Technologists (AMT), certifies Medical Assistants’ knowledge of a comprehensive set of administrative and clinical skillsets. It is a respected, rigorous credential highlighting knowledge of quality patient care and expertise.
Established in 1939, AMT follows rigorous standards, strict eligibility requirements, and offers an affordable and straightforward certification process. As a result, many employers only recognize and support AMT-certified members.
If you would like to know more about getting on the path to a new career as a Medical Assistant, you can read more about How to Become a Medical Assistant.
Is the RMA Exam Hard?
Medical Assistants usually want to know if the RMA exam is challenging. For those who prepare, the exam may seem comprehensive but not overwhelming. But keep in mind that the exam is challenging and does require preparation.
The RMA exam pass rate was 73% in 2021 and 77% in 2020 (the two most recent years with data). Currently, there are 63,579 certified Registered Medical Assistants.
How Many Questions Are On the RMA Exam?
The RMA exam has 210 questions: 46 on Anatomy and Physiology; 75 on Administrative Medical Assisting; 31 on Clinical Medical Assisting; and 58 on Clinical Patient Interaction. The exam format is four-option, multiple-choice items. Candidates must select the single best answer from the four options.
What Score Do You Need to Pass the RMA Exam?
The minimum passing score for AMT exams is 70, on a scale of 0 to 100. This means you must answer 70% or more of all questions correctly. For the RMA exam, this translates to answering 70% of the 210 questions correctly to pass.
Who is Eligible to Take the RMA Exam?
To be eligible for this exam, you must complete one of the following four routes:
- Education: You must be a recent or scheduled graduate of an accredited MA program or a program housed within an accredited institution. You must have 720 hours of instruction, including at least 160 hours of externship.
- Military: You must be a recent graduate or scheduled to graduate from a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces.
- Work Experience: When choosing the work experience route, you must be a medical assistant for at least five of the last seven years (with no more than two of those years as an instructor in a post-secondary medical assistant program). The experience must include clinical and administrative duties and be full-time at 40 hours per week (part-time combination allowed).
- Instructor: You must currently teach in an accredited medical assisting program or have completed a course of instruction in a healthcare discipline related to medical assisting. You must also have a minimum of 5 years of full-time teaching experience in a medical assisting discipline encompassing a range of clinical and administrative competencies broadly representative of core medical assisting duties. In addition, an applicant with one to five years of teaching experience must provide documentation of at least three years of full-time clinical work experience in a healthcare profession in which the scope of practice is commensurate with, or exceeds, the medical assisting scope of practice.
How Do You Register for the RMA Exam?
Once you’ve reviewed some tips on how to pass the RMA exam, the next step is registering for it. AMT has three location options for taking the exam. Your possible RMA exam test dates depend on the option you choose.
- At Your School: This option is available only if your school offers it at their Pearson VUE site. Ask your school or instructor to find out if this is an option for you.
- At a Pearson VUE Testing Center: The second option is to take the exam at a Pearson VUE Testing Center. To schedule your exam, you’ll need to use the authorization code AMT provides.
- At a Private Site: Finally, you may be able to take the RMA exam at a private site. To do this, you must choose “Online on a personal computer (LRP)” when applying for certification.
When you are ready to schedule your exam, you can do so online at the Pearson VUE site.
How Much Does It Cost to Take the RMA Exam?
The RMA exam cost is $120. The retesting fee for taking the exam a second, third, or fourth time is $100.
What Is on the RMA Exam?
The RMA exam tests Medical Assistants on their knowledge of administrative, clinical, and communication skills. Here’s how the content breaks down by category:
Anatomy and Physiology: 46 Questions (21.9%)
- Body Systems
- Medical Terminology
Administrative Medical Assisting: 75 Questions (35.7%)
- Financial Bookkeeping
- Medical Receptionist/Secretarial/Clerical
- Medical Law and Ethics
- Human Relations
Clinical Medical Assisting: 31 Questions (14.7%)
- Laboratory Procedures
- Minor Surgery
Clinical Patient Interaction: 58 Questions (27.6%)
- Patient Education
- Vital Signs and Measurements
- Physical Examinations
- Clinical Pharmacology
- Therapeutic Modalities
- Laboratory Procedures
- First Aid, CPR, and Emergency Response
Sample Practice Exam Questions
Following are a few RMA exam sample questions you might find in the RMA Practice Exams. This gives you an idea of the question format (see answers at the end of the article). Note that none of these sample questions will appear on your RMA exam, and answering them correctly does not guarantee you will pass.
- 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…?
- a) Feeling
- b) Striking
- c) Looking
- d) Drawing fluid
- Which body part is not part of the acronym EENT?
- a) Eye
- b) Ear
- c) Torso
- d) Throat
- 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?
- a) Abiosis
- b) Adenitis
- c) Arthralgia
- d) Apnea
- 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
- b) Fax
- c) Motorcycle courier
- d) Hand delivery
How Do You Study for the RMA Exam?
Following are some tips on how to pass the RMA exam—including the study aids provided by AMT. The best RMA exam test strategies combine familiarizing yourself with the format of the questions the exam uses with studying the categories and topics identified in the content outline. You can supplement your studies with other resources, such as current medical assisting publications and suggested textbooks.
1. Create Your RMA Exam Study Plan
Studying is the key to passing the exam on your first try. A great way to study is to create and follow a study plan. First, identify the time of day and the number of hours you plan to study each week. Next, decide which topics or resources you will review during each study period.
2. Review the Exam Content
The first thing you should review is the RMA exam content. This document lists the competencies covered in the exam, including topic categories, topic subcategories, and the number and percentage of questions you can expect from each category. This will help you gauge how much study time you should focus on each category.
3. Study from Suggested Reference Materials and Textbooks
You can find plenty of solid reference materials to study. The AMT notes that the RMA exam is not based solely on textbook information but also on other skills and competencies. Exploring the most recent editions of the AMT’s list of suggested reference materials can help reinforce your knowledge. This page also identifies medical dictionaries and other review books that can significantly enhance your study sessions. For digital study help, the AMT also offers a phone app called RMA Practice Test Prep.
4. Take the Practice Exams
An essential part of your plan should be to take the RMA Practice Exam. You can attempt the exam twice, and there is no limit on when you need to take them. Completing the practice exam is highly recommended since this gives you the best feel for the actual exam. The practice exam costs $30 for members and $40 for non-members. Other Medical Assisting practice exams are also available on this site.
5. Purchase the RMA Review Course
If you need more guided study help, purchase the review course modules for a more in-depth study aid. There are a few options on how to do this. First, you can purchase individual modules if you feel you only need help in certain areas (the cost ranges from $40 to $75 per module). Or you can purchase all three modules (Clinical, Administration, and General Knowledge) and the RMA Practice Exam for a package price of $175. This option will help you review content across all the topics outlined in the exam content—with the bonus of including the practice exam.
6. Rest and Be Refreshed for Exam Day
If you follow your study plan, you’ll find there’s no need to cram for a few days before the exam. The key is to pace your studies, include a mix of different study aids, and be consistent. That way, you can get a good night’s rest and be refreshed on exam day.
If you’re looking for more study ideas, you can also read about other exam tips from people who passed an AMT test.
How Many Times Can You Take the RMA Exam?
If you don’t pass the exam the first time, you can retake the exam 45 days after your initial attempt. RMA exam requirements state that applicants can only attempt the exam four times in their lifetime. Therefore, thorough preparation and studying are essential.
Once certified, you will be required to participate in and document activities supporting your certification’s continuation every three years.
Why Enroll In a Medical Assisting Program?
A program like the medical assisting program at Brookline College provides you with a solid foundation for taking and passing the RMA exam.
Completing a program accredited by an approved regional or national accreditation agency helps you qualify for the RMA exam. It’s also the best type of RMA exam prep and—combined with creating a study plan—can help you pass the exam on your first try.
Brookline College’s Phoenix, Tucson, Tempe, and Albuquerque campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Answers to sample practice exam questions shown in this article:
1) A 2) A 3) C 4) A 5) D 6) C 7) A 8) D 9) A 10) B