As part of pursuing your medical assisting certification, you will need to complete a medical assistant certification test or exam from one of the nation’s medical assistant certification agencies. The four major certification agencies and the medical assistant certifications they offer are:
- The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offering the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification
- American Medical Technologists (AMT) offering the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification
- The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) offering the National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) certification
- The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offering the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification
All four certification agencies require medical assistants to pass a certification exam in order to become certified.
The Four Medical Assistant Certification Tests
The four certification exams are administered by the four certification bodies: AAMA, AMT, NCCT, and NHA. These certifications are separate – a medical assistant can get any of them, all of them, or none. However, taking the exams and becoming certified by any of the organizations will strengthen you in the job market.
The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Exam
The CMA exam is administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). This certification test covers essential knowledge in areas such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, legal guidelines, administrative practices, and others. Some of the major topics covered are:
- Medical Terminology
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medicolegal Guidelines and Requirements
- Data Entry
- Computer Concepts
- Records Management
The computerized exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. Students are given 195 minutes (three hours and 15 minutes) to complete it, broken into four 40-minute segments. Optional 20-minute breaks can be taken between the test segments.
To be eligible for this test, you must be a graduate of a medical assistant program accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). The courses you take while in school will also prepare you for the test.
Studying for the CMA Exam
The AAMA recommends several study resources for the CMA exam. They include:
- Practice exams – there are practice versions of the medical assistant certification test available on the AAMA website covering anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology
- Practice outline – a detailed outline of the exam topics is also available on the AAMA website
- Review course – the AAMA recommends taking a CMA exam review course at an accredited medical assistant school or through the AAMA to brush up on the specific topics covered in the exam
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) administers the CMA exam for medical assistant certification and recertification throughout the year.
The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Exam
The RMA exam is a medical assistant certification test administered by American Medical Technologists (AMT). It covers 20 topics in clinical, administrative and clerical medical assisting. Some of the major topics include:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Law
- Medical Ethics
- Human Relations
- Patient Education
- Finance and Bookkeeping
- Medical Receptionist / Secretarial / Clerical
To be eligible to take the RMA exam, you must be of good moral character and satisfy one of four qualifications:
- Graduation from an accredited training program
- Graduation from a military medical assistant training program
- High school graduation and 5 years of recent work experience in medical assisting
As an additional qualification, applicants who meet one of the three qualifications above and who have already passed another recognized medical assistant certification test may become certified without taking the RMA exam. Details are on the AMT website.
Studying for the RMA Exam
Students studying for the RMA exam have access to several materials to help them pass the certification test. They include:
- A certification test handbook outlining the application and examination process
- A content outline of the RMA exam
- A list of reference materials useful in studying for the exam
- A practice test, offered by AMT for $30
The RMA exam may be retaken if you do not pass the first time. Fees and a time limit apply to retaking the test.
The National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) Exam
The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) administers the NCMA exam. This test covers clinical and administrative topics, including:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical office management
- Medical procedures
- Medical terminology
To be eligible to take the NCMA exam, you must have graduated from high school must meet at least one of the following conditions:
- Recent graduation form an accredited medical assistant school approved by the NCCT
- At least two years of recent employment as a medical assistant
Additional details are available on the NCCT website. Test fees are $90 for students and $135 for non-students.
Studying for the NCMA Exam
The NCCT offers several certification test review packages for sale, ranging from a $15 practice test to a $59 package that includes a review book, practice test, puzzle and pin. Packages are available on the NCCT website. An exam content outline is also available, as well as the online practice test login.
The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) Exam
The CCMA exam is administered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). It is around 2 hours and 40 minutes, and consists of 160 questions. The exam covers a variety subjects, including:
- Patient Care
- Office Administration
- Medical Law and Ethics
- EKG Monitoring
To qualify to take the CCMA exam, you must have graduated from high school, and must have either completed a medical assistant training program or have one year of work experience in medical assisting, including venipuncture and EKG experience.
Studying for the CCMA Exam
The NHA recommends purchasing medical assistant certification test review materials from ATI Allied Health prior to taking the exam. Certification test takers can purchase study materials ranging from a $25 online practice test to a $56 study guide and practice test package. More information is available on the NHA website.
For a detailed look at the process of becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, see our step-by-step guide to becoming certified.