What does the NREMT practical test look like

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By Arthur Hsieh

This Cheat Sheet is a brief summary of the facts you should know in order to become a Certified Paramedic (EMT), including certification levels, computer matching tests, and exam preparation.

Obtaining and maintaining an EMT certification

The requirements to become a Certified Paramedic (EMT) vary from state to state. However, there are several steps in common to the EMT certification process. They contain the following steps:

  1. Sign up for an EMT course.

    Search the internet or go to your local EMS or fire station to find out where reputable EMT training programs are available. Talk to the program coordinator or lead teacher to find out when the course will be, how long it will be, what it will cost, and other factors you might want to know before making a decision.

  2. Complete the EMT course.

    EMT training programs are quite intense and last at least 150 hours. Review the course curriculum and understand what it takes to successfully complete the program.

  3. Pass the NREMT or status check.

    Most states now use the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) exam as an eligibility test for state certification. Your teacher will let you know if another state exam is being used. You should prepare something for both exams after completing your EMT course.

  4. Apply for state certification.

    You fill out an application and send it to the state EMS office along with a fee. Some states require proof of successful completion of the course, and other states may require a criminal background test. You should check the state EMS website and speak to your teacher about the process.

  5. Maintain your EMT certificate.

    In all states, you must attend educational events to keep up with changes in practice. Several states require you to take refresher courses every time you renew your EMT certificate, typically every two to three years. Your state's EMS office likely has this information on their official website.

Elements of the EMT computer exam

The cognitive portion of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) exam is a computer adaptive test (CAT) that continuously assesses your performance as you answer each question. Here are a few things to keep in mind before taking the EMT exam:

  • As you take the exam, the computer continually rates how you answer each question and shows you questions at a level of difficulty corresponding to your ability to answer them. In other words, the exam "pushes" you to see where yours Performance is - above or below the minimum level of difficulty. This is why the questions seem difficult whether you are doing well or badly.

  • CAT asks you questions on a specific topic until it knows if you are above or below the standard. She then moves to another section and repeats the process until all five sections have been checked: airway, breathing, and ventilation; Cardiology and resuscitation; Medicine and Obstetrics / Gynecology; Trauma; and EMS operations. Because of this behavior, no two tests are ever the same. It may take up to 70 questions or up to 120 or more for the computer to calculate the statistical probability of whether you are above or below the standard.

  • After you have completed the exam, your answers will be evaluated by the computer and sent to the NREMT. After your results are reviewed and approved by NREMT staff, they will be published on your online account.

  • NREMT exams are held at Pearson VUE testing centers. These are offices that promote a safe and comfortable testing environment for many types of certification exams. You can complete an exam as soon as possible after submitting your application. Please visit the NREMT website for more information.

Prepare for the EMT exam

Don't take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) exam. Prepare for the cognitive (computerized) portion of the EMT exam by doing the following:

  • Create a study plan and follow it.

  • Study in a place that encourages learning and bonding.

  • Have all learning materials by your side.

  • Use tools like flash cards and study with friends to improve your learning.

  • Use your knowledge to build your testing skills by taking field tests. This, in turn, will increase your confidence - another essential part of successful testing.

The practical part of the EMT exam is the practical part. You will be tested on your ability to demonstrate various EMT skills, such as airway management, spine immobilization, and splinting. The exam varies by state and is usually taken at the end of the EMT course. Prepare for this by doing the following:

  • Practice, practice, practice. Skills such as splinting and immobilizing the spine require repetitive practice to become second nature.

  • Follow your skills closely, especially if this is your first time learning a new skill. You want to learn it right the first time and don't have to forget any mistakes later in the course.

  • Practice with your classmates. You will need help with many skills. More importantly, other people can tell you what you're doing right or wrong as you go through the steps.