The Medical Technologist (MT) Exam

Medical Technologists play a pivotal role in today’s health care industry. Their laboratory work helps doctors diagnosis medical conditions and prevent diseases. It is a field that demands a solid knowledge in chemistry and biology. Over 300,000 medical technologists work in the United States. Competition for these positions can be quite strong, but there is a way you can stand out. You can become a Certified Medical Technologist by passing the Medical Technologist Exam.

Certification is highly valued in the medical community. Nearly all medical technologists will need to have a bachelor’s degree to find work in this field. However, employers appreciate workers who go beyond the basic requirements. Undergoing certification is a completely voluntary process. A person is willing to put her knowledge, skills, and abilities to the test to prove that she is a competent professional. It is proof from an independent professional association that she can perform at a high level. Employers highly value that extra professional seal of approval.

The Medical Technologist Exam is considered the final step in the certification process. The exam, administered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT), is a content driven exam. It is nothing like the SAT or ACT you took to get into undergraduate school. It was strictly designed to measure your understanding of concepts every entry-level medical technologist needs to know. To sit for the exam, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and have a minimum amount of laboratory experience. These requirements must be met before you apply to take the exam.

The exam was developed under the authority of the Education, Qualifications, and Standards Committees of the American Medical Technologists. These medical technologist subject matter experts developed and reviewed each exam question. This was done to ensure that exam questions are measuring the key concepts that are essential to perform well in the field. So, the exam is a true measure of just how knowledgeable you are in this field. This is one of the primary reasons why the exam is so valued in the industry.

Exam questions will be divided into 6 main content areas. The more relevant the content is to the job, the more questions you will receive.

  • Chemistry (19%)
  • Hematology (19%)
  • Immunology / Immunohematology (19%)
  • Microbiology (19%)
  • General Laboratory (14%)
  • Urinalysis (10%)

You will receive between 200 and 210 multiple choice questions. These questions may ask you to recite facts, analyze a case study, interpret an illustration, or solve problems. There will also be only one best answer to each question. This is a timed test, so you will need to pace yourself. The entire test will take 3 hours to complete.

You should never walk in and take the Medical Technologist Exam cold. Hours of studying will be required to perform well on this exam. If you fail, you will be able to retake the exam. However, you are only given 3 opportunities to pass it.

Exam scores can range from 0 to 100. You must earn a score of at least 70 to pass the exam. Your score will not be a raw score, but a scaled score. The Medical Technologist exam is a criterion-referenced exam. This means that AMT’s subject matter experts determine what the passing score should be. They look at each question and basically assign a level of difficulty. Earning a score of 70 indicates that you have the minimum amount of entry-level knowledge needed to work in the field. Once you pass, your certification will be valid for 3 years. Keeping your certification will require you to participate in continuing education and become involved in leadership or education instruction events.

The exam is offered as a computer-based test and as a paper and pencil test. The computer-based test is offered at Pearson VUE testing centers across the nation throughout the year. You will not need to have superior computer skills to pass the exam. The paper and pencil test is only offered on specific days during the year. Scores are comparable on both. So, you can choose the testing option you are most comfortable with.

Reasons for Taking the Medical Technologist Exam

Why do so many people voluntarily take the Medical Technologist Exam? If it isn’t a requirement for your job, why would you spend hours preparing for this lengthy exam? The answer is simple. Certification carries weight in the medical community. Passing this exam puts you on the path to becoming a certified medical technologist.Reasons for Taking the Medical Technologist Exam

Education and experience will help you land jobs in this field. You don’t actually need to be certified. However, employers are more likely to hire a certified medical technologist over a non-certified candidate. Individuals who are certified have independent proof that they have the skills and competencies needed to get the job done safely and effectively.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in medical technology, chemical science, or biological science is not the same as earning a certification. Every school offers a different take on the curriculum. They have different standards when it comes to GPA’s. So, employers really cannot use education as a standard measuring stick to gauge candidates. They can use the Medical Technologist Exam. It is one of the few standardized measurements available on the market. It doesn’t matter where you went to school. You should be able to pass the exam with the right education and experience.

The Medical Technologist Exam was developed by subject matter experts who have extensive experience working in medical technology. These experts analyzed and determined the key content areas of a medical technologist’s job. They reviewed each exam question to see how they measured up to the entry-level knowledge necessary to perform the job. The exam is a true indicator of how competent you are. It gives employers confidence that they are hiring some of the best candidates available.

There are a variety of benefits you receive from taking the Medical Technologist Exam. Certification can open up many different career opportunities, boost your self-confidence, and encourage you to continuing learning more about your field.

  • Improved Employment and Income Opportunities – Certified medical technologists are more employable than non-certified technologists. Education and experience play a huge role in deciding who ultimately gets offered the position. However, voluntarily going through the certification process carries a tremendous amount of weight too. Certification shows that you have the skills necessary to perform at a high level. You also have shown an enormous amount of initiative. You are committed to your career. This commitment will translate into better job performance. You aren’t willing to sit and wait for someone to tell you to do something. Employers want to hire technologists who are skilled and motivated. Certification can also help you land promotions. You already have the necessary skills. So, your employer considers your certification status as he decides who to promote to lab manager.
  • Higher Job Satisfaction – Your self-confidence gets an extra boost when you pass this exam. You now have independent confirmation from a respected professional organization that you have the knowledge necessary to succeed. You probably already knew this before you took the exam. Receiving that confirmation from a professional organization just carries more weight. Your extra confidence will allow you to perform your job even better. Your employer begins to take notice and considers you for a few more challenging assignments. You may get to take on a team leadership role or head up a WBC research test. Your job satisfaction rises and you become even more productive.
  • Continued Learning – You will be required to renew your certification every 3 years. You will not have to take the Medical Technologist Exam to re-certify. However, you will have to participate in continuing education programs. These programs give you the opportunity to further your education and grow your career. You are able to pick subject matters that are relevant to your job. If you are struggling in one particular area, these programs are the perfect place to hone your skills. You can choose from professional development classes, write reports, attend seminars, or design instructional presentations.

Registering for the Medical Technologist Exam

If you are just beginning your medical technologist career, you may need to wait a few years before you can sit for the Medical Technologist exam. The American Medical Technologists (AMT) has strict eligibility requirements candidates must meet before becoming certified. Employers do place a high value on Medical Technologist Certifications. So, AMT developed requirements to ensure the quality and validity of the certification. Only those with sufficient education and experience are able to apply.

Eligibility Requirements

Candidates will be required to submit an application to sit for the Medical Technologist Exam. It is important to send in your application as quickly as possible. It often takes weeks for AMT to review and process your application. Eligibility requirements must be completed before you ever submit your application. You cannot plan on finishing the final 100 hours of laboratory experience while your application is being processed. Here is a list of requirements you must meet.

  1. Education – You must have graduated from an accredited university or college with a bachelor’s degree in a chemical sciences or biological sciences. You can also graduate from an accredited medical technology program with a bachelor’s degree in medical technology.
  2. Experience – You will need to complete at least 1 year of “approved laboratory experience” within 5 years of submitting your application. This is only a requirement if you graduated with a degree in biological or chemical sciences. The requirement can be fulfilled in a clinical, hospital, or research laboratory. Health care labs (i.e. group practices) may also be used. AMT may verify with the lab director that you did complete the work. So, don’t fudge your hours. Clinical labs must be directed by a MD, DO, or an individual who earned a doctorate degree. These labs must also meet the “Conditions for Coverage of Service of Independent Laboratories” laid out by Medicare. Research labs must be under the supervision of a doctorate degree holder or operated by an accredited school. Hospital labs will need to be accredited by one of the following: Medicare approved agency, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, or the Bureau of Hospitals of the America Osteopathic Association.
  3. Character – All candidates “shall be of good moral character.” You must disclose any criminal activity you have been convicted of. If you were convicted of a felony, you will need to provide all the details of the conviction. Copies of court documents will need to be included too. AMT will carefully review the documentation to see how serious the felony was and the impact it could have on your work.
  4. Application Fee – You must pay a fee in order to have your application processed. This fee will also cover the cost of taking the Medical Technologist exam. However, it is non-refundable. An additional fee will be charged each year to maintain your certification status.

During the application process, you will need to let AMT know if you require special accommodations to take the exam. You will be asked to submit medical documentation about your disability, the accommodations you require, and past instances where you required these accommodations. ANCC will contact the testing center to inform them about any special accommodations you require.

Making Your Exam Appointment

If your application is approved, you will receive an “Authorization to Test Letter.” This letter will let you schedule your Medical Technologist exam at a Pearson testing center. You do not want to wait too long to schedule your appointment. Pearson VUE testing center handle a variety of exams. Spots will fill up quickly, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays.

You are able to choose the testing center you want to take the exam at. If you are taking the computer version of the test, you can schedule an appointment six days a week, Monday – Saturday. Pencil and paper tests are given at schools on a few select days throughout the year. So, you will not have as much flexibility choosing dates as you do with the computer version.

Rescheduling / Cancelling Your Exam Appointment

You are able to reschedule or cancel your exam appointment without penalty. However, you must provide Pearson notice at least one business day before your exam is scheduled. If you do not provide notice that you are cancelling, your registration fee will be forfeited.

Taking the Medical Technologist Exam

You have the option to take either the computer or paper version of the Medical Technologist Exam. There is no scoring benefit for taking one version over another. They are both comparable and test the exact same concepts. The benefit you receive will be based on your comfort level. Are you more comfortable sitting in front of a computer taking an exam? Or do you like to flip the pages of the test booklet and bubble in your answers?

The computer based exam is given at Pearson testing centers across the country. The paper version is given at schools around the country. Both will require you to pre-register. You will not be able to walk up the day of the exam and take it. If you fail to show up the day of your exam, your registration fee will be forfeited.

You need to plan on arriving to the testing location at least 15 – 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time. There are a series of check-in procedures that must be completed. You do not want to be waiting in line right before the exam starts. Testing locations are not required to seat late arrivals. If you arrive late, you most likely will be asked to reschedule your exam for another day. You may also have to pay another registration fee.

Required Identification

Whether you take the computer or paper based version, you will need to provide 2 forms of identification with your name and signature. Your primary form of identification must include a recent photo of you. Acceptable primary identification cards include driver’s licenses, passport books, military issued identification cards, state identification cards, or employee photo badges. Your secondary identification can include any item from the primary list or a credit card.

If you do not provide adequate identification, you will not be allowed to take the exam. You will have to reschedule your appointment and pay a reexamination fee.

Computer Version

Once you check-in, you will be assigned a computer terminal station. You are not allowed to pick a station that meets your comfort level. You are stuck with the one the test administrator assigns you. If you need to leave your seat at any time, you must raise your hand. The administrator will dismiss you and sign you back into the room. There are no scheduled breaks in this exam. If you get up and take a break, the exam clock will not stop.

Testing center staff members will not be allowed to answer any questions specific to the exam content. If you experience a computer problem during the exam, alert a staff member immediately. They will work to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. Once you complete the exam, you will be able to immediately see your scores.

If you have never taken an exam on a computer, consider downloading Pearson’s tutorial and practice exam. This will need to be done on your home computer. The tutorial gives you the opportunity to become familiar with the testing format and learn how to answer and flag questions. This practice test is not a Medical Technologist practice test. It is a general practice test that all Pearson test-takers use.

Paper and Pencil Version

You have to bring your own pencils to this exam. The testing center is not responsible for providing them. So, bring at least 4 No. 2 sharpened pencils with decent erasers. After you check-in, you will receive a testing booklet and an answer sheet. Before the time clock begins, you will be asked to fill in the preliminary section on your answer sheet. Pay close attention to the instructions when filling this section out. It determines how you ultimately receive your scores.

Make sure to completely fill in the answer bubbles. The exam is graded by a computerized optical scanner. The scanner will only pick up dark, heavy marks. If you erase an answer, make sure you erase it completely. If the scanner picks up more than one mark per answer, it will automatically count it as incorrect. A sample answer sheet will be provided in your test booklet. At the end of the exam, the test administrator will collect your answer sheet and booklet. Do not try to smuggle out testing materials. If you are caught, legal action can be taken against you.

Medical Technologist Exam Content

The Medical Technologist Exam (MT) is not an aptitude test. There aren’t any complicated math equations to solve or essays to pen. This exam is designed to measure how much you know about your chosen field. The questions were created to make sure you have enough adequate entry-level knowledge to perform your medical technologist job well.

The American Medical Technologists (AMT) uses a panel of subject matter experts to create the exam questions. These experts have worked and taught in the field of medical technology. Through their experience, they have learned the essential skills, abilities, and knowledge a medical technologist must have to succeed. This is one of the reasons why the MT exam is so highly regarded in the industry. It is a benchmark that employers can have confidence in.

The exam is made up of 200 – 210 multiple choice questions. These questions will be divided into 6 content areas. The number of questions you receive in a specific content area will be based on the importance it plays in a medical technologist’s job. You must study for this exam, if you want to earn a decent score. Many of the questions will be rather technical. Reviewing flashcards, study guides, and other reference material is essential. Here is a look at the content areas and some of the topics the exam will cover.

Chemistry Content (19%)

    • Chemistry laboratory terms (spectrophotometry, densitometry, refractometry, electrophoresis, turbidimetry, nephelometry, osmometry, mass spectrometry, ELISA, FPIA)
    • Principles of instrumentation terminology (Beer-Lambert law, radiant energy, end point reactions, kinetic / rate reactions)
    • Instrumentation parts, principles, and maintenance
    • Renal function tests (anatomy and physiology of the kidneys, tests for renal function, clearance tests)
    • Hepatic function tests (anatomy and physiology of the liver, types of jaundice and bilirubin)
    • Carbohydrate metabolism tests (terminology, tests for glucose analysis, glucose tolerance tests)
    • Protein Analysis (protein classifications, SPE patterns, plasma proteins, reference limits)
    • Enzymes (cardiac enzymes, pancreatic enzymes, and isoenzymes, cardiac marker tests)
    • Endocrinology (thyroid function, hormone functions, endocrine system, pregnancy hormone tests)
    • Lipids / Water / Electrolytes / Acid-Base Balance

Hematology Content (19%)

  • Hematology Topics
    • General terminology related to hematology (NRBC, CBC, HGB, HCT, RBC, PLT, WBC, DIFF)
    • Erythrocyte (hemoglobin, red blood cell count, malaria prep slides, Westergren effect)
    • Leukocyte (white blood cell count, leukocyte disorders, WBC differential)
    • Thrombocyte processes (platelets)
    • Sickle cell screen, body fluid analysis
  • Coagulation and Hemostasis Topics
    • Knowledge of terminology (PT, APTT, INR, FDP, thrombin, platelet function test, heparin)
    • Coagulation processes and procedures

Microbiology Content (19%)

  • Bacteriology Topics
    • Identification of bacteria including growth curve, shape, and arrangements
    • Staining procedures (India ink Stain, Gram’s stain, Giemsa & Wright stain)
    • Bacteria cultures and quality control
    • Performing bacterial tests (streptococcal, H Pylori, Clostridium, and DNA probing)
  • Parasitology Topics
    • Identifying parasites
    • Parasite blood tests, including fecal occult blood test
  • Mycology Section
    • Identifying mycological organisms
    • Performing standard and advanced mycological procedures

Immunology / Immunohematology Content (19%)

  • Immunohematology Topics
    • Immune response components including immunoglobulins and cytokines
    • Compatibility testing (cross match procedures, interpreting AHG results, anti-globulin testing
    • Blood typing
  • Immunology and Serology Topics
    • General knowledge of terminology (VDRL, PCT, RPR, antibody, antigen, thermostable, plasma)
    • Principles of immunological examinations
    • Syphilis, stages of infection, and serological testing
    • Analysis for Epstein-Barr virus, rubella, hepatitis, HIV, tumor markers
  • Blood Banking Topics
    • Blood bank donor requirements
    • Blood bank practices (drawing blood, quality control, maintaining proper records)

General Laboratory Content (14%)

  • Laboratory quality control terminology (accuracy, Levey-Jennings chart, standard deviation index, confidence limit)
    • Quality improvement (TQM, CQI, PIC)
    • Perform, review, and evaluate point of care proficiency testing
    • Laboratory laws, regulations (OSHA, HIPPA, CLIA), and safety measures
    • Laboratory instrument maintenance and operation
    • Laboratory mathematics (abbreviations for weights and measures, normal and molar solutions)
    • Microscopy
    • Phlebotomy and specimen collection
    • Patient identification

Urinalysis Content (10%)

  • Specimen collection (random, timed, catherized, or midstream), handling, and preservation
  • Urinalysis procedures (physical, chemical, microscopic examination, confirmation tests)
  • Special tests (Bence Jones protein, Watson – Schwartz, HCG, Hoesch screening)

Scoring the Medical Technologist Exam

Scoring the Medical Technologist ExamThe American Medical Technologists (AMT) organization uses scaled scoring to tabulate the Medical Technologist Exam results. Everyone will not be taking the exact same version of the exam. The overall content will be the same, but the questions and their level of difficulty will be different. Scaled scoring ensures that a score of 80 is comparable across all versions of the exam.

Exam scores can range from 0 (lowest) to 100 (highest). You must earn a score of at least 70 to pass this exam. It is possible to fail one content area of the exam and still pass. You receive points based on the number of questions you answer correctly. However, your scaled score will not indicate the number or percentage of questions you answered correctly.

If you are taking the paper and pencil version of the exam, make sure you that you completely erase any errors you may have made on the answer sheet. The optical scanner will count a question as incorrect if it reads 2 or more answers for the same question.

Setting the Passing Score

AMT’s panel of medical technologist subject matter experts determines the minimum passing score. This exam is not graded on a curve. Scores are not determined by looking at the performance of all test-takers. The Medical Technologist Exam is a criterion-referenced exam. The passing score is determined before anyone sits down and takes it.

The subject matter experts carefully review each question. Each expert determines how likely an entry-level medical technologist would be able to answer the question correctly. The expert’s opinions are averaged together and a weight is assigned to each question. A minimum passing level is then established for each question on the exam. So, technically some questions are worth more points than other questions.

This extensive review is one of the reasons why this exam is so highly valued in the medical community. Employers and state licensing boards know that a passing score indicates a candidate has the entry-level knowledge and competencies necessary to succeed.

Receiving Your Results

When you take the computer version of the exam, you receive your results automatically. A testing center staff member will provide you a paper copy of your results before you leave the center. If you take the paper and pencil version of the exam, you will receive your results in the mail within 6 – 8 weeks.

A diagnostic score report will be provided if you failed the exam. This report will provide details on how you performed in each content area. This is a terrific tool you can use to prepare if you decide to retake the exam. However, the report will not provide details on the specific questions you answered incorrectly.

Retaking the Exam

You are able to retake this exam. However, you are only allowed three more attempts after your initial failure. The good news is AMT does not require you to fill out a new application for your second attempt at the exam. They will require you to fill out an application for your remaining attempts. This means you will have to pay a registration fee each time too.

Requesting a Rescore

Some people may have thought they performed much better on the exam than their score indicated. They were confident that they aced the Microbiology section, but were stunned to learn that they failed it. Computer and optical scanners can make mistakes when tabulating scoring results. It is a rare occurrence, but has happened in the past. If you think this might be the case, you can submit a request to have your exam rescored.

You must submit a written rescore request to the AMT Register within 60 days of taking the actual exam. You will also have to pay a small rescoring fee. They will hand-score your exam and let you know the outcome. This process can take a few weeks. You will not receive a tremendous amount of detail regarding the hand-scoring. AMT will inform you whether or not the results were correct. If you are still not satisfied, you can appeal. You will have to file another written request with the AMT Register. It must be done within 30 days of the rescore. If you have to travel to the AMT office, you will have to cover those travel expenses.

Taking the Medical Technologist Exam

You have the option to take either the computer or paper version of the Medical Technologist Exam. There is no scoring benefit for taking one version over another. They are both comparable and test the exact same concepts. The benefit you receive will be based on your comfort level. Are you more comfortable sitting in front of a computer taking an exam? Or do you like to flip the pages of the test booklet and bubble in your answers?

The computer based exam is given at Pearson testing centers across the country. The paper version is given at schools around the country. Both will require you to pre-register. You will not be able to walk up the day of the exam and take it. If you fail to show up the day of your exam, your registration fee will be forfeited.

You need to plan on arriving to the testing location at least 15 – 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time. There are a series of check-in procedures that must be completed. You do not want to be waiting in line right before the exam starts. Testing locations are not required to seat late arrivals. If you arrive late, you most likely will be asked to reschedule your exam for another day. You may also have to pay another registration fee.

Required Identification
Whether you take the computer or paper based version, you will need to provide 2 forms of identification with your name and signature. Your primary form of identification must include a recent photo of you. Acceptable primary identification cards include driver’s licenses, passport books, military issued identification cards, state identification cards, or employee photo badges. Your secondary identification can include any item from the primary list or a credit card.

If you do not provide adequate identification, you will not be allowed to take the exam. You will have to reschedule your appointment and pay a reexamination fee.

Computer Version
Once you check-in, you will be assigned a computer terminal station. You are not allowed to pick a station that meets your comfort level. You are stuck with the one the test administrator assigns you. If you need to leave your seat at any time, you must raise your hand. The administrator will dismiss you and sign you back into the room. There are no scheduled breaks in this exam. If you get up and take a break, the exam clock will not stop.

Testing center staff members will not be allowed to answer any questions specific to the exam content. If you experience a computer problem during the exam, alert a staff member immediately. They will work to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. Once you complete the exam, you will be able to immediately see your scores.

If you have never taken an exam on a computer, consider downloading Pearson’s tutorial and practice exam. This will need to be done on your home computer. The tutorial gives you the opportunity to become familiar with the testing format and learn how to answer and flag questions. This practice test is not a Medical Technologist practice test. It is a general practice test that all Pearson test-takers use.

Paper and Pencil Version
You have to bring your own pencils to this exam. The testing center is not responsible for providing them. So, bring at least 4 No. 2 sharpened pencils with decent erasers. After you check-in, you will receive a testing booklet and an answer sheet. Before the time clock begins, you will be asked to fill in the preliminary section on your answer sheet. Pay close attention to the instructions when filling this section out. It determines how you ultimately receive your scores.

Make sure to completely fill in the answer bubbles. The exam is graded by a computerized optical scanner. The scanner will only pick up dark, heavy marks. If you erase an answer, make sure you erase it completely. If the scanner picks up more than one mark per answer, it will automatically count it as incorrect. A sample answer sheet will be provided in your test booklet. At the end of the exam, the test administrator will collect your answer sheet and booklet. Do not try to smuggle out testing materials. If you are caught, legal action can be taken against you.

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