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EMT Test and Exam Information with Tips

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an EMT (emergency medical technician). Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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To become an EMT, you must complete a basic training course and pass a standardized test. A further three professional levels are available for candidates, which allow the possibility of becoming a fully-certified EMT- paramedic after passing qualifying exams. EMTs must also be certified in CPR and have a high school diploma or GED.

Essential Information

In most states, aspiring emergency medical technicians (EMTs) must pass an EMT test offered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). It provides standardized testing for four levels of EMT certification, including basic, intermediate/85, intermediate/99 and paramedic. Programs at all levels of EMT training are offered, though not all lead to formal educational awards.

Required Education Training programs at the appropriate EMT level: basic, intermediate, and paramedic; some programs lead to certificates; paramedic programs resulting in associate's degrees are available
Certification Certification required in all states; most states utilize the exams proctored by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 24% for EMTs and paramedics*
Median Salary (2015) $31,980 per year for EMTs and paramedics*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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EMT Test Information

EMT-Basic

To be eligible to take the EMT-basic exam, candidates must have completed a state-approved EMT-basic course within the last two years and hold a current CPR credential. The cognitive and psychomotor sections of the EMT-basic test cover topics like assessment of trauma patients, bleeding control, shock management, upper airway management and ventilation with supplemental oxygen. Candidates are allowed two hours to complete the cognitive exam.

EMT-Intermediate/85

Candidates for the intermediate/85 level EMT test have to have completed a state-approved EMT-intermediate/85 course within the last two years and hold a current CPR credential. Both the cognitive and practical parts of the exam cover more invasive life-support techniques, including IV therapy, the use of airway devices and drug administration. NREMT allows candidates two hours and fifteen minutes to complete the EMT-Intermediate/85 Test.

EMT-Intermediate/99

The EMT-intermediate/99 test is very similar to the EMT-intermediate/85 test. However, there is a slight variation in subject matter since EMT-intermediate/99 certificants can use additional techniques and drugs. These include endotracheal intubations, needle-decompression of tension pneumothorax, administration of drugs to control arrhythmias and ECG monitoring.

EMT-Paramedic

The EMT-paramedic test consists of the same cognitive and practical sections, but candidates are allowed two and a half hours to finish. The test builds on the previous two exams, including advanced techniques for pharmacology and drug administration, airway and breathing management, pediatric life-support, cardiac life-support and interpretation of lab tests.

Test Taking Tips

The best way to prepare for any level of the EMT test is to purchase a study guide and complete several practice tests. Exam guides are widely available at bookstores and libraries. Many prospective EMTs make study flashcards to help them memorize basic anatomy and ways to complete more complex procedures.

When it is time to take the test, candidates should approach the test with confidence and a positive attitude. They should make sure to read through the exam and answer the questions they find to be easy first, rather than spending a lot of time on difficult questions.

The national EMT certification exams used in most states are offered at four levels. Candidates must complete the appropriate training programs and meet other qualifications prior to taking them. Testing is given by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) with a maximum time limit of two hours for the first basic EMT exam.

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