November 20, 2017

Surgical Technologist Certification Exam

The Surgical Technologist Certification Exam….What You Should Expect

I have said it before, and I will say it again. The school that you attend will have a lot of impact on how well you can expect to do on the Surgical Technologist Certification Exam. It’s also crucial to make sure that you have chosen to attend a school that is accredited, because an unaccredited school is not sufficient training to be able to take the exam, in and of itself. You could still find work, but your salary would probably be less than if you went to the right kind of school in the first place.

In some states, being certified is the law. However, there is an exception to that, that allows recent graduates to work for up to one year in the surgical setting in many states. You should make sure that your state is one of the states that permit that, particularly if you plan to be working as soon as possible after graduation.  You will often have the opportunity to take the exam during the last month that you are in school, as long as you have been able to successfully complete all of the other requirements for your imminent graduation, including an acceptable GPA.

Questions and Answers on the Exams

Currently, the National Board of Surgical Technology and First Assistants, or the NBSTSA has a test that has 200 multiple choice questions. Of these, 175 will be scored, and you will not be told in advance which of the questions will be graded. Of those 175 questions, you have to be able to get the answers to at least 119 questions right if you are taking the Surgical Technology exam, and at least 112 correct if you are attempting the First Assistant Exam. The 25 questions that are not graded are put in to the exam randomly, so that evaluations of statistical information can be accomplished.

Additionally, on January 1, 2011 there were some very important changes that will effect many people who are taking the First Assistants Certification Exam for the first time. These individuals who are attempting to show their eligibility for the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting will be required to show two notarized forms that disclose your experience in the surgical setting from either two different surgeons or supervisors from the surgical department. They will also have to demonstrate, in writing, that they have worked for at least two years in their field, with at least 350 procedures. This change does not effect anyone who is taking the Surgical Technology Certification exam, although there has been a lot of confusion about that in some circles.

Taking the Exam

When you are ready to take the exam, please remember that you will have to make an appointment to do so. Walk-ins will not be seen. You should also plan for the fact that you are given no more than four hours to complete your exam.  There can be some pretty hefty costs associated with the test, so you need to keep in mind that you will be required to pay anywhere from $190.00 to $290.00 to take the test. Due to the cost, it’s very important that each person who takes the exam is truly ready to take the exam. This is a computerized exam, and you will know your score within five minutes of the time that you complete it.

If you are unlucky enough to fail the test on your first try, you will have to wait at least six weeks to be able to take it again. The upside to that, is that you will still have all of the information from school, as well as the exam questions, fresh in your memory and you will not find out that you failed until it’s close to the time that you can re-take the exam anyway. If you fail, you should try not to embarrassed about it. That’s not something that your future employers will be able to find out, so it will probably not have an adverse effect on your ability to find a job later on. You will only be able to take this test three times within any calendar year.

When you are ready to take the test, you will have to have two forms of identification with you. This will be true even if you have already taken the test before, and even if they happen to remember you. The first form of ID is pretty standard, but you will have to show a valid ( that means unexpired) Driver’s License, State ID card, Passport, or Military ID. The second form can be a Student ID, a social security card, or work ID. If you have any questions about what they accept, you can contact them at 1-800- 707-0057, or by visiting their website at

Preparing for the Exam

Just like with any other major examination, you should spend an adequate amount of time getting ready for the Surgical Technologist Certification Exam. There are practice examination questions that are available for 40 dollars per test, with two different ones being available for future Surgical Technologists. You will only be allowed to take this exam once, so if you would like to take it again, you will have to buy it again. Immediately after purchase, or within an hour, you will be emailed a link and login information, so that you can begin your practice questions. After completion, your answers will be reviewed, so you can know where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

This is an incredibly test, and passing it is what you have been working towards for so long. However, worrying over it is also not the best idea, since you don’t want to cause the “test jinx” that everyone worries about. In general, adequate preparation, with the same attention to detail that you’ve shown for your other academic duties is your best bet to do well and begin your new career.  Trust that your teachers have done well, and that you are ready for the rest of your life.