October 7, 2015

The Computed Tomography (CT) Exam

Everyone has dreamed about walking into a classroom that is totally unfamiliar to you and the instructor saying you have an exam that day. It’s a nightmare that no one wants to encounter when awake. That’s why preparing for an exam as much as possible and being as familiar with the test and its content is so important. This article looks at the computed tomography certification exam, and lets you know how it is developed, the kind of content that will be on it, and how you will take the test.

How the CT test is developed

All of the tests developed by the ARRT are designed to test the knowledge and cognitive skills of the professionals who take them. The final content that appears on any exam has gone through a rigorous and lengthy review process. Fortunately for the examinee, the ARRT posts its content specifications for all tests on its website. The content specifications are developed to include the information and skills that an entry level technologist will need to know to competently perform in his or her chosen field of expertise. The content specifications are also updated periodically so that they remain valid and current in their respective fields. When you visit the ARRT site to look at the content specifications for your particular exam, you’ll see that in addition to outlining the information, it also provides the weighting of each topic so you’ll know how many questions there will be in each topic area.
At any one time more than 100 radiologic professionals volunteer to help develop the exams. This includes item writers, reviewers, and examination committees. New items are written on a regular basis and reviewed by other professionals to ensure that they are appropriate technically and as a test item. Practice analysis advisory committees review information from large-scale practice analyses to serve as the basis for examination content and clinical experience checklists. At the end of this process, the items become part of a “bank” of questions that can appear on your exam.

Exam format

Like most other certification and licensing exams, ARRT exams are taken using a computer system. You will need to go to a Pearson VUE testing center near you and provide two forms of ID. When the test begins, you will be presented with a tutorial. The tutorial helps you become familiar with the test process and the types of questions on the exam. Once you’ve finished the tutorial, you’ll begin the exam.

The exam is composed of multiple choice questions. In the majority of questions, you’ll read the question and there will only be one right answer. However, there will be some questions that will ask you to choose more than one answer, or ask you to find the item in the list of choices that is incorrect. You may also be asked to use your mouse to highlight an area on an illustration as your answer to the question.

Before you finalize the test and submit it, you’ll be given the opportunity to change any of your previous answers. However, once you’ve submitted the test, you are committed to those answers.

The number of questions you’ll be asked for the CT exam is 165. This may sound like a lot of questions, but each ARRT exam is different, and some include up to 360 items. You’ll also be given plenty of time to complete the test. You should allot a minimum of four hours to take the exam, which includes taking the tutorial. You’ll actually have 3.5 hours to answer all of the questions.

Test score/results

Your test results will be reported to you using a scaled score. The scale is developed based on the level of difficulty of each item. The ARRT is currently reporting that a scaled score of 75 is required to pass all ARRT exams. Currently, that means that examinees must get about 65% to 75% of the questions correct to pass the exam. You can retake the test if you don’t pass it the first time. However, most professionals (more than 82%) who take the CT exam pass it the first time.

The Best Tools for Practicing and Studying for the CT Exam

As a medical professional, you are already well versed when it comes to studying for and taking exams. You already know how much time you need to spend and how to study. When it comes to taking the certification exam from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) for computed tomography certification (CT), however there are some tools designed for helping you prepare that you should know about. Even if you’ve been practicing for some time, you can never be too prepared for any exam.

Practice tests

One of the most basic and important study tools available is the practice test. In fact, you should plan to take at least three practice tests throughout the duration of your preparation time. Plan to take the first practice test before you begin studying. That will provide you with a baseline score, which lets you see how deep your knowledge base is currently, and what areas you need to focus on. Then you should take the practice test a second time once you’re about halfway through the preparation time. This will allow you to see your progress and if there are areas you still need to improve. Finally, take a practice test about a week before you’re scheduled to take the CT exam. This will give you a good indication of how you’ll do on the exam and give you a few extra days to work on any final areas that need more attention.

You can find practice tests through various companies. Make sure that the exam you choose to use is obtained through a reputable company. Ask other professionals who have taken the exam what practice test they used or ask them for their recommendations.

Study guides and flash cards

As a seasoned professional, you already know the benefit of using multiple study tools. You know that using them helps ensure that you’re encountering a wider variety of material. Using multiple tools also prevents studying from becoming dull. There are many study guides on the market today. You should plan to use at least two different study guides from more than one company. Just as you did the practice tests, ask other professionals who have already earned their certification what guides they used.

No matter what test you’re seeking to pass, mastering some of the material will depend on your ability to memorize data. The best way to do that is through the use of flash cards. Flash cards are convenient and easy to use, and give you a break from study guides and practice tests. You can find flash card products online. Make sure you order yours through a company that has a good reputation when it comes to providing educational material.

Study courses and groups

If you’re able to, you may want to consider taking a CT exam review course. The primary benefits of review courses is that you must schedule a certain number of hours each week to go to class and study for the exam, and it covers all of the material that is on the exam. Not everyone has the time or money to take a review course. Some courses are also only available to students. However, if you are able to take a class, it’s an effective way to prepare for the exam.

Finally, consider joining a study group. Study groups hold each other accountable for certain material. You’ll also be able to focus on your assigned areas rather than the entire study guide.

When it comes to preparing for the exam, there is no one right way that suits every professional. It is usually a combination of some or all of these tools that will lead to you passing the exam. Since you’ve already taken exams similar to this, choose the tools that worked for you in the past. If you take the time to utilize them, you’ll increase your chances of passing the CT exam.

Computed Tomography Exam Application Process and Fees

If you’ve decided to earn your computed tomography certification (CT), you’ll need to seek that certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). This organization, based in St. Paul, Minnesota promotes high quality patient care by certifying individuals involved in medical imaging, interventional procedures, and radiation therapy. The ARRT is governed by members of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) and the American College of Radiology (ACR).

The computed tomography certification is considered a post-primary credential. That means you will need to earn certification in three primary areas before you can apply to take the CT exam. The three areas you need to be certified in are radiography, nuclear medicine technology, and radiation therapy. To receive certification for these primary areas you will need to prove you have completed your education, you have and will adhere to ARRT ethics and standards, and pass an examination for each area. Here are more details about applying for these primary certifications.

Primary Application Process

The primary application process is completed in four steps. First, you’ll need to obtain an ARRT handbook for that specific subject. For all primary areas, the ARRT makes the handbooks available at all accredited medical imaging schools. The program director of each school should have the handbooks and are instructed to give them to students who are applying for the exam. The second step is to complete the application form, which is located in the ARRT handbook. Submitting the form, along with payment, is the third step. All primary area exams cost $200. The final step in the process is to prepare and send in any additional material that the ARRT may request to prove your eligibility. Once all of these steps are completed, you’ll receive confirmation from the ARRT that you are scheduled to take the exam.

Post Primary Application Process

The post-primary application process is very similar as the primary process, with a few exceptions. First, the handbook for post primary tests, included computed tomography, are only available through the ARRT rather than through educational programs. You will need to contact the ARRT to receive your handbook (which is also where you’ll find the application). Secondly, you will also need to be able to prove or provide documentation of your clinical experience in computed tomography. Once you’ve sent in your application, you will no longer need to document your experience. You must also provide evidence of your registration in the three primary areas. Once all of these requirements are satisfied, you will be able to take the exam for certification in computed tomography. The fees for post-primary exams are also higher. The fee for the CT exam is currently $200.

Other Application Details

Once ARRT officials have determined your eligibility, you will have 90 days in which to take the exam. The test is computerized and must be taken at a Pearson VUE test center. There are 200 test centers in the United States. If you are unable to get to a test site and take the exam in the 90 days given you, you can request a new 90-day period. However, you can’t wait until the last day to ask for this extension. The ARRT will need to receive your request for extension by the last business day prior to the 90-day expiration date. Also, you will need to schedule an appointment to take the exam with the Pearson VUE test center of your choice. If you are unable to keep that appointment, but can reschedule it within your 90-day period, you need to contact Pearson VUE to cancel the first appointment and reschedule the exam.

You will need to provide two forms of ID in order to be admitted to the test site and tale the exam. Both IDs should have your name and signature printed on them, and at least one of the IDs needs to be a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license.