Athletic Training Exam

NATA-BOC Exam for the ATC Credential

The ATC credential identifies an individual who passed the National Athletic Trainers’ Association – Board of Certification (NATA-BOC) credentialing examination to become an “Athletic Trainer, Certified.” Certified athletic trainers are healthcare professionals focusing on injury prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation.

While obtaining the ATC credential is optional, 49 states and the District of Columbia require the certification for regulation and/or licensure in the state.


To be eligible to set for the NATA-BOC examination, you must hold a degree, Bachelor’s or Master’s, from an athletic training program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Athletic trainers who hold certification from the Athletic Rehabilitation Therapy Ireland (ARTI) or the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association are also eligible to sit for the ATC credential. In the fall of 2022, athletic training programs will not be available at the Baccalaureate level.

Before you can register for the examination, you need to apply with NATA-BOC. The organization verifies your eligibility and authorizes candidates to continue with the certification process. There is an application fee that is separate from the exam registration fee of $35.00 for NATA members and $60.00 for non-members.

Test design

The ATC credentialing examination is computer-delivered and consists of 175 multiple-choice questions. You will have four hours to complete the exam.

The exam tests your ability to demonstrate the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the duties of an athletic trainer without the threat of harm to the public. The knowledge, skills, and abilities required fall in three categories:

  • Understanding, applying and analyzing
  • Knowledge and decision-making
  • Special performance abilities

The Practice Analysis, 7th Edition (PA7) is the reference material from which test questions are formed. The prompts are presented as stand-alone multiple-choice questions, stand-alone alternative answer selection questions, and scenarios. The scenario questions (also referred to as “testlet”) have different question formats consisting of prompt and response, hot spot, hot spot with toolbar, and drag and drop.  To answer a hot spot question, you indicate your response by clicking an area in an image.

You will be evaluated in the following content areas:

  • Injury and illness prevention and wellness promotion – 19.8%
  • Examination, Assessment, and Diagnosis – 24.3%
  • Immediate and emergency care – 15.5%
  • Therapeutic intervention – 27.4%
  • Healthcare administration and professional responsibility – 13%

Registration, cost, and location

After you receive approval to take the certification examination, register for the test online at the BOC Central website. There are specific periods for the application, registration, and test scheduling windows, so pay attention to deadlines.

The examination registration fee for CAATE and CATA candidates is $330.00, and the fee for ARTI candidates is $430.00. CAATE and CATA candidates register for the exam at a Castle testing facility located in Canada or the United States, and ARTI candidates register for the exam at a Castle testing facility in Ireland.

You have one year from the time your application is approved to register and pay for the examination. After the one year period expires, you have to start the application process again, including remitting the required application fee.

Test Day

On the day of your examination, arrive at the testing center 30 minutes before your scheduled time. Arriving early gives you time to complete the pre-test activities and relax a little before your test begins. At check-in, provide the confirmation email you received from Castle, and valid, government-issued photo identification.

After you check-in and sign the required forms, you are escorted to your testing station. Everything you need to complete the exam is provided, and you are not allowed to bring any personal items with you to the testing station. You have an opportunity to complete a familiarization tutorial, and when you have finished, your credentialing examination will begin.

Exam scoring and results

Each exam includes unidentifiable experimental questions that are being evaluated for inclusion in future tests. The experimental questions are not scored but cannot be distinguished from the scored questions. Therefore, make every effort to answer all of the questions. You are scored for each correct response, with partial credit awarded for correct answers to questions with multiple correct answers.

Each question is assigned a weight, and then your raw score (the points awarded for correct responses) is converted to a scaled score. The passing point is 500, on a scale of 200 to 800. Your results are sent to you via email and the United States Post Office two to four weeks after the last day of the exam window.

If you did not pass the examination, you may retake the exam. If you register for the exam within one year of your last attempt, the application fee is not required. However, the exam registration fee must be paid again. You may retake the exam as many times as necessary.

How Can I Prepare for the NATA-BOC Exam?

That’s a great question.  We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.

  1. Do yourself a favor and study.  Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try.  Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
  2. Take care of yourself.  Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping.  All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance.  If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
  3. Get a study guide or set of flashcards.  Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them.  We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam.  Below you’ll see links to both!

Study Guide



Last Updated: July 2, 2019