National Certified Medical Assistant Practice Exam

This exam is developed and maintained by the National Center for Competency Testing or NCCT to determine if medical assistant candidates have the knowledge and abilities needed to gain certification in their field. A passing completion of this exam will earn you the credentials NCMA.

Who is Eligible?

There are four ways to be eligible to sit for the NCMA exam. They are:

  • Current Student – have a high school diploma or equivalent and be enrolled in a medical assistant program from an NCCT school (exam fee is $90)
  • Graduate student – have a high school diploma or equivalent and have graduated from an NCCT accredited medical assistant program in the last five years (exam fee is $90 if you are testing within six months of graduation, if testing after six months, the fee is $135)
  • Experience – have a high school diploma or equivalent and two years of full-time experience or 4160 hours as a medical assistant with direct physician or primary care provider supervision in the last five years (exam fee is $135)
  • Military – have a high school diploma or equivalent and have completed medical assistant training or its equivalent during U.S. Military service in the last five years (exam fee is $90)

The above-mentioned fees are due at the time of application. Supporting documentation may also be requested depending on the route of your application.

When and Where is it Taken?

Once you have submitted your application and it has been approved, NCCT will send you notification of your eligibility and invite you to schedule an exam appointment. Your application and payment are good for up to one year from your submission date. This process typically takes about two weeks; therefore, it is important that you do not schedule your exam until afterward.  

Special accommodations are available upon request for anyone with disabilities and who may not be able to test under normal conditions. Please make this request during the application process and submit the proper supporting documentation for speedy approval.

What Should I Bring?

It is imperative that you arrive on time for your exam appointment. There is a sign-in process that is required before you begin testing. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed to test, forfeiting all fees.

You will need to bring at least one form of valid personal identification with you to the testing site such as a driver’s license, state ID, passport, or military ID. This must include your signature, full name as it appears on your application and a recent and recognizable photo. If your ID contains missing or incorrect information, you will be asked to present another one or will not be allowed to test that day.

Personal items are not allowed in the testing area. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Writing utensils
  • Paper or study materials
  • Cell phones
  • Calculators
  • Food and drink

If these items are found on your person during the exam, you will immediately be dismissed from the testing site and your scores voided.

Approved scratch paper and pencils will be provided for you.

What is Covered?

The NCMA exam is made up of 150 scored, multiple-choice questions and 15 unscored pretest questions. The unscored items will not be identified as such and will be scattered throughout your exam.

You will be given three hours to complete all questions.

Below is a brief description of each of the main categories and the number of questions included.

Pharmacology – 13 questions

Checking medications, performing calculations related to medication, knowledge of common medications and brands, safe medication preparation and documentation, medication administration, DEA and other agency guidelines for medications

Medical Procedures – 32 questions

Infection, exposure control, safety standards and precautions, handling and disposal of waste and chemicals, PPE, emergency situations, body mechanics, performing asepsis, patient history, assisting with minor surgical procedures, first aid, BLS, patient vital signs, pain scale use, patients with special needs

Phlebotomy – 20 questions

Evaluating pretest conditions, selecting appropriate equipment, preparing the patient, taking corrective actions, handling of laboratory specimens, processing specimens,

ECG and Other Diagnostic Tests – 23 questions

Preparing the patient, test safety standards, performing of tests, specimen collection, processing specimen, identifying errors, proper usage and storage of equipment

General Office Procedures – 39 questions

Effective written and verbal communication, telephone emergencies, managing patient information, processing office mail, directing patients appropriately, use of basic office supplies and devices, basic computer skills, receiving and entering patient information/records, scheduling appointments and referrals

Medical Office General Management – 8 questions

Opening and closing of the medical office, comply with all health and safety regulations and guidelines, collaboration with other professionals in the office,

Office Financial Management, Billing, Insurance – 7 questions

Collecting payments and insurance, posting payments, reconciling financial transactions, comply with insurance and billing regulations

Law and Ethics – 8 questions

Recognize and respond to violations of medical law, legal responsibilities, following protocol, obtaining consent, adhering to laws and regulations

How is it Scored?

If you have taken a computer-administered exam, your scores will be available on the screen after you have completed it. Paper and pencils versions will need to be sent off for scoring and can take as long as a week to process.

If you pass, you will be sent your certification and have the right to use your credentials as appropriate. Your certification is good for up to two years before recertification will be required. The process to recertify includes continuing education classes, workshops, and/or seminars.

For those who fail, you may retake the exam. after your second attempt, you will have to wait for a period of at least 30 days. After your third unsuccessful attempt, you will be required to wait a year to retake it.

How Can I Prepare for the National Certified Medical Assistant Test?

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: June 27, 2019