Are you considering an exciting career as a medical assistant? If so, you'll need to pass the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) Exam. Many hopeful medical assistants find themselves wondering if they have what it takes to make the grade, but don't worry—we're here to help!
In this guide, we'll provide you with everything you need to know to prepare for the medical assistant exam. So be sure to read everything from top to bottom so you don't miss out on any essential details.
Before becoming a certified medical assistant, you'll have to demonstrate competency in the field by passing the National Healthcareer Association's Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) Exam. This computer-based test consists of 180 multiple-choice questions.
The exam includes seven sections covering essential topics like anatomy and physiology, clinical patient care, and administrative assisting. You will have three hours to complete the exam and must score 390 or higher to pass.
Before you can register to take the certified clinical medical assistant exam, there are a few milestones you'll have to complete first.
Want to get a jump start on your medical assisting career before graduation? If you're still in high school and plan to graduate within 12 months, you can still take the test to earn a provisional NHA CCMA certification. However, keep in mind that if you are under 18, your certification will not become active until after your 18th birthday.
Provisional certification differs from traditional certification, as it expires 12 months after your exam date. You must still apply to convert your provisional certificate into a full certification.
There are four ways to qualify for this requirement:
Complete a Medical Assistant Apprenticeship Program (such as the program offered by MedCerts) that is registered with the US Department of Labor.
Receive formal US Military training in medical assisting or medical training service.
Complete one year of work experience in a supervised medical assisting position if you completed training more than five years before the exam.
The NHA CCMA exam includes 180 total test questions. 150 of these questions are scored, but the other 30 pre-test questions are used to help design future iterations of the exam. Therefore, the pretest questions are not scored.
The CCMA exam includes seven domains of knowledge, each with several subtopics categorized as either knowledge statements or task statements.
Knowledge statements describe the conceptual information you'll need to know to make informed decisions about patient care.
Task statements are related to the duties you must know how to perform as a clinical medical assistant.
Specific items on the exam blend recall and critical thinking skills as they relate to knowledge and task statements. Here's a breakdown of what you can expect from each exam domain.
In the first section of the medical assistant exam, you'll answer 34 knowledge statements covering the bare essentials of what any healthcare professional should know before entering a medical assisting career. This includes topics like:
Healthcare systems and settings
The anatomy and physiology portion includes 12 knowledge statements. But don't think you can slack on studying for this part just because there are fewer questions—this section can be notoriously tricky for many test-takers. You can expect to see topics including:
Body structures and organ systems
Pathophysiology and disease processes
The clinical patient care section of the medical assistant certification exam comprises the majority of the questions related to the most critical aspects of your job as a medical assistant. It's broken into five subsections that include:
General patient care (61 questions)
Infection control (20 questions)
Testing and laboratory procedures (21 questions)
Phlebotomy (35 questions)
EKG and cardiovascular testing (16 questions)
In the patient care coordination and education section of the medical assistant exam, you'll respond to questions that assess your knowledge about interacting with diverse patients and families. You'll see topics in this section that include:
Reviewing and maintaining patient records
Facilitating patient compliance
Preventative medicine and wellness
Barriers to care
Tracking and reporting technologies
You won't necessarily spend a ton of time assisting with administrative duties. But clinical medical assistants work alongside medical administrative assistants, and as such, they need to understand how to help with core duties. You can expect to see topics that cover tasks, such as:
Scheduling and Insurance
Billing and referrals
Auditing methods and processes
Your career as a medical assistant will frequently involve acting as a liaison between patients and other medical specialists. So you'll need to hone your communication skills in a meaningful way. To ace this section, you'll need to know information related to topics, such as:
Handling complex customer service issues
Facilitating and promoting teamwork
Finally, you'll demonstrate your expertise in the domain of medical law and ethics. This section assesses your knowledge about topics like:
Compliance with regulatory requirements
Protecting patient privacy and confidentiality
Power of attorney
Storage of medical records
Mandatory reporting laws
The NHA has also provided a list of "Core Knowledge and Skills" deemed fundamental for successful medical assistants. These are not standalone domains; rather, these topics are interwoven throughout the assessment in various contexts. The NHA states that core knowledge and skills may include topics, such as:
Standards of care
Aseptic and sterile techniques
Collaborative relationships between providers
Basic arithmetic, grammar, spelling, and computer literacy
Interpersonal skills and organization
Registration for the medical assistant certification exam is a breeze. To start, you'll visit the National Healthcareer Association website. Once you confirm that you meet the prerequisites and eligibility requirements, you can apply to take the exam. Be sure to have important personal information on hand. And if you have taken the MedCerts’ CCMA online certification course, your exam fees are covered by your tuition!
If you're serious about a career as a certified medical assistant, there's no better way to gain the skills and knowledge you'll need to succeed than by completing a comprehensive course with MedCerts. In 28 weeks, you can build a foundation to launch your career with the CCMA (or CMAA) certification and ace the medical assistant exam.
You can pay for your course in full or choose a low monthly payment plan. With monthly payment plans starting at $239, there's a pathway for everyone to launch their career.
As a comprehensive program for aspiring medical assistants, MedCerts has designed courses that give our students a competitive edge in the field. You'll complete a course load that includes studies in:
Professionalism in Allied Health
Introduction to Human Anatomy and Medical Terminology
Medical Office Procedures and Administration
Clinical Medical Assisting
MedCerts makes it easy to get started on your path to becoming a medical assistant. All you need is a high school diploma or GED and a web browser with an internet connection. Then, once your course registration and payments are taken care of, you can dive into your coursework right away!
When you enroll in our medical assistant certification program, your tuition includes access to all the materials and resources you'll need to complete the coursework. That includes:
Expert-led video-based training
Ebooks and competency assessments
Medical Assistant National Exam fee
Dedicated student success advisors
Still have questions about the medical assistant certification exam? We've got answers. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get about the CCMA exam.
The exam includes a $160 application fee that you must pay at the time of registration. Educational institutions, such as MedCerts, or your employer may be willing to pay for the exam.
Be prepared to wait up to two weeks to get a response for your application. Once approved, you can schedule an exam at a local PSI testing center. If you are determined to be ineligible, you may receive a refund for your exam registration.
If you're enrolled in a postsecondary institution, you may be able to take the exam at your school. You can also take the exam at a local PSI testing center or through remote proctoring at a location of your choosing.
You'll have a total of three hours to finish your exam. Remember that no breaks are scheduled during the medical assistant exam, so be sure to use the restroom and take care of your personal needs before starting.
If you require accommodations that qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the NHA will provide them as long as you submit your request for accommodations in writing before the exam. Accommodations may include scheduled breaks, oral interpretation, extended testing time, or an audio test version.
You'll need to achieve a passing score of 390 or higher on the exam to earn your CCMA credential.
Considering that 77% of all test takers pass the exam, you can likely pass on your first try if you commit to a study plan.
First of all, don't panic if you fail! You'll be allowed to retake the exam, but there are a few rules to keep in mind for retakes.
For your first two retakes, you must wait for a minimum of 30 days between each exam. After that, you must wait one year before taking the exam for a third and final time. Note that you must pay the full exam price each time—so plan your retakes wisely.
The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and the American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) are similar certification providers. Founded in 1989, the NHA is a longer-standing association.
It provides eight health-related certifications, including Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA). On the other hand, the AMCA was founded in 2010 and offers both administrative and clinical certifications in the health field, including the Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC).
The registered medical assistant exams differ regarding some of the topics and skills assessed. For example, the AMCA Certified Medical Assistant Certification exam includes more of a focus on administrative medical assisting than the NHA Certified Clinical Medical Assistant exam, which focuses primarily on clinical knowledge.
Here are a few of the roles you may qualify for with your CCMA credential.
As a medical office assistant, you'll be the first point of contact for patients visiting a medical facility. You'll need to be able to juggle administrative tasks, like answering phones and scheduling appointments, while providing top-notch customer service.
Clinical medical assistants work directly with patients, providing care and support before, during, and after medical procedures. You'll need to have an excellent bedside manner and knowledge of standard medical procedures.
A doctor's assistant or physician's assistant is responsible for providing support to a physician in a medical setting. Support may include tasks like taking patient histories, requesting and interpreting diagnostic tests, assisting in surgeries, and performing physical examinations.
If you're motivated to enter the allied health field but don't know where to start, look no further. Becoming a certified medical assistant is a great way to get your foot in the door of the healthcare industry.
MedCerts offers industry-leading medical assistant exam prep courses designed to help you jumpstart your career in the healthcare industry. Our competitively priced courses are comprehensive and can be completed in as little as 28 weeks. Learn more about how to enroll here.