How to Prepare for Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Test?
Landing a job as a Certified Medical Assistant is no easy feat. To start, you need to pass the Certified medical assistant test. But how do you pass the test?
The best way to ace the test is to understand what you will be facing and then practice, practice, practice.
If you are thinking about a career as a certified medical assistant but don’t know how or where to start, you’re in the right place.
Keep reading to learn how to pass the test!
Table of Contents
What Is the CMA Prep Test?
This test is only designed for those about to graduate or those who have graduated from health programs. The exam is given three times a year in January, June, and October.
Members of the AAMA, or the Association of American Medical Assistants, administer the test. Each test has three sections
What Is the Format of the CMA Test?
Each test has 200 questions, and each test-taker has 260 minutes to complete the exam, not including breaks. Including the breaks (20-minutes between each segment and an optional 15-minute tutorial), you are looking at a 195-minute test.
What Is on the CMA Test?
Let’s break down what each section entails.
The general section of the CMA test has between 55 and 56 questions which make up 28% of the entire test. This section, like the title suggests, focuses on general information you need to know to be a successful medical assistant.
This includes questions about psychology, medical law, and ethics. You need to know different psychology terms to work in a medical field to deal with patients as well as all (or most) of the medical ethics to properly deal with patients and maintain professionalism.
Safety is another huge part of the general test. Who wants a medical assistant not versed in proper safety precautions and measures? Knowing the right safety measures makes you a better medical worker and is trusted by more co-workers and patients alike.
One of the most important parts of a medical job is making sure your patients feel safe and comfortable with you. If they don’t, you will lose trust and lose patients.
So, to pass this section on the exam, demonstrate that you know all of your safety procedures and use them at all times. When working as a medical professional of any kind, you need to know how to communicate with others.
More times than not, you will have to talk to strangers and other medical professionals that you do not know about uncomfortable topics or topics you do not usually speak about in daily life. Make sure you demonstrate that you can communicate about difficult topics with anyone while taking your test.
Professionalism and risk management are other topics you need to show you possess during the test. While working in the medical field, you have to compose your professionalism while dealing with patients, even in uncomfortable situations.
Risk management refers to mitigating risk and protecting the safety of the larger population. This can be applied to patients and hospital workers. You need to know how to handle threats or dangerous situations while making sure everyone is safe.
Let’s take a look at a sample of a general question.
Which of the following is a symptom of a Vitamin D deficiency?
- Broken bones
- Blood loss
The correct answer is a. Vitamin D controls bone density, and if you do not receive enough Vitamin D, you can develop rickets and have softer bones. Since you lose bone density when you do not have enough vitamin D, you are more likely to break or fracture bones.
Anemia is a symptom of a lack of B-12 vitamins which creates red blood cells. If you do not have enough red blood cells, your body won’t have enough oxygen to function properly, and you will develop anemia. B-12 also affects blood loss and diarrhea.
However, to know the correct answer, you need to study and know your medical terminology and general knowledge.
The administrative section asks 50 questions and makes up 25% of the test. Instead of focusing on medical language and knowledge, this section focuses on everything needed to establish a trustworthy relationship with the patient as an administrator.
What that means is you need to show you know how to write reports, track records, take notes, and schedule patient appointments.
You will be asked questions about finances, so make sure you explain you know how to handle medical finances properly and handle any disputes, claims, or mismanaged money. You especially need to know how to document patient records, which means you need to know how to schedule.
This takes a lot more than just documenting a time slot on a calendar, though. To establish a lasting patient record, you have to form a good bond with the patient. This is one section where the general information goes hand in hand with the administrative section.
You need to communicate and welcome your patient before they decide to continue treatment. If you are too pushy and don’t show respect toward your patient, they will seek treatment elsewhere.
You need to show them that they are a priority and you care about helping them more than their payment. To continue receiving payments from them, you have to establish a lasting connection.
Medical reception refers to a medical professional conducting scheduling, administrative duties, emergencies, and keeping stock of supplies and materials used in the medical facility. This broad topic is one of the most important because it is something you will use when working in the medical field.
If you do not schedule someone one day, you will have to restock or count stock of how many gloves or sanitizers you have in the supply closet. Say someone walks into your medical facility with a broken bone and in pain.
You have to handle that situation with care and urgency, all while keeping the patient calm. Demonstrate you can keep calm and collected while handling administrative duties.
Another topic you have to be well versed in is medical business practices. Medical business
practices refer to the six kinds of medical facilities in the industry today. Let’s explain all of them.
1. Solo– This refers to a practice run by one practicing medical professional. It is their office, and they have people working for them, but they are the head of the office. They work for themselves and not through any outside organizations. They also do not form partnerships.
2. Group Practices– This refers to two or more doctors working together in one office. These physicians work together because they usually offer different specialties. For example, two doctors might open a practice if one specializes in lung conditions and one specializes in throat health. The two doctors offer separate treatments, but the lungs and throat work together to make up a few parts of the respiratory system. This practice might bill itself as a respiratory health office.
3. Independent Contractor– Independent contractors are medical professionals that work for themselves but have agreements that they can work in someone else’s office. For example, a heart doctor could be an independent contractor, but a hospital sends them a contract detailing that they will receive x amount of money if they work between given hours. They do not work for the hospital but rather with them.
4. Direct Primary Care- This kind of treatment refers to the payment more than the kind of treatment received. Direct primary care physicians do not use insurance to receive compensation. Instead, they tell the patient what they charge and what they will receive for their payment. If the patient agrees to those conditions, the physician sets up a payment plan for the patient.
5. Locum Tenens- Locum tenens are medical professionals working in temporary spaces. Say one doctor is sick and needs someone to fill their shift. The locum tenen comes in and works their hours, so their patients don’t have to be rescheduled. It is basically a substitute but for doctors.
6. Employed Physician Practices- This refers to clinics or offices with hired medical professionals. These clinics or offices have a set of medical professionals on their payroll that work for them regularly. For example, urgent care with four hired doctors who work set shifts.
Let’s take a look at a sample question from the administrative section.
Which organization tracks nursing homes, assisted living communities, and communities for people with disabilities?
The correct answer is a. AHCA or the American Health Care Association. This organization maintains records of all nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and communities for disabled individuals.
The NAHQ is the National Association for Healthcare Quality, the AHA is the American Hospital Association, and the AAHAM is the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management.
This section asks test-takers between 94 and 95 questions making up the final 47% of the exam. This section has nine subjects it asks questions from.
Anatomy and physiology focus on the biological makeup of the body and its functions. Of course, if you work in the medical field, you need to know different anatomical functions and workings of the body to provide proper treatment and care to patients.
Collecting and processing specimens refer to gathering information from a patient to test them for various conditions or illnesses in a safe manner. This category goes hand in hand with diagnostic testing because, for diagnostic testing, you have to take blood from a patient.
To ensure you provide proper care to the patient, demonstrate your ability to prepare the patient for treatment and assist the doctor working above you. Usually, if you take blood or any kind of test, you will have to deliver the results to a different doctor.
Infection control is greatly important in today’s health climate of COVID-19. Infection control means you clean the infected area of the patient and any area they came in contact with to prevent the next patient from contracting their condition.
This practice protects not only patients but other healthcare workers from getting sick. Don’t be the reason your whole team gets sick when you can prevent the spread of illness by practicing clean tactics.
If you work in the healthcare field, you have to handle emergencies. You need to know the emergency number, 911, and how to handle an emergency until the paramedics arrive. It is your responsibility to maintain the patient and keep whoever they are with calm until more help gets to the scene.
When you fill out an intake form, pay attention to all details, including nutrition and allergies. If you give a strict vegetarian a medicine with gelatin in it, they will lose trust in you as a physician, and that shows that you didn’t pay attention to the intake form.
Intake and nutrition are very close to pharmacology. If you ignore information about a patient’s medical history and physical reactions to medicine, you put their health in a detrimental position.
Let’s take a look at an example question.
If a patient tells you they have an allergy to penicillin, what medicine should you not give them?
You should not give the patient Oxacillin. Oxacillin is an antibiotic containing Penicillin, and if you give it to the patient, they will have an allergic reaction. Vancomycin, Ciprofloxacin, and Gentamicin are all safe alternatives for someone with a penicillin allergy.
How to Prepare for the CMA Test?
Hands down the best way to prepare is to take online practice tests. We highly recommend heading to the esteemed job preparation website Job Test Prep. They have created a study package designed to help you ace the test and move one step forward to landing your dream career.
Job Test Prep offers a package that cannot be found anywhere else. With practice tests similar to the actual test, answer explanations, and a detailed breakdown of each section included on the test, look no further.
Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant is a lengthy process that requires you to pass a difficult test after you complete schooling or when you are close to finishing school. Job Test Prep prepared a prep package including practice tests focusing on the three subjects asked on the exam.
These sections include administrative information, general medical knowledge, and clinical information. With Job Test Prep’s study guide, you will become a certified medical assistant in no time!
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Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.