Medical students with a virtual instructor

How to Pass the CCMA Certification Exam

CCMA Certification Exam Review & Study Guide

Medical students with a virtual instructor

As the costs of healthcare continue to rise, the roles of providers other than doctors are expanding. Medical assistants are one example, as their role in the healthcare setting continues to grow and includes more complex administrative and clinical duties. With these expanded duties, most employers now require or prefer MAs who have earned certification.

But which MA certification is most relevant and helpful to your career objectives? What’s involved in earning the various certifications? How often must you recertify, and how much does it cost to become certified?

This article is part of a series describing the specific advantages of six widely recognized and highly regarded MA certifications. For an overview of all six certificates, click here to read our guide on the top Medical Assistant certifications to advance your healthcare career.

(Click here to view our comprehensive guide on how to become a Medical Assistant)

Each article in this series discusses the specific competencies covered by one of the MA certifications, details about the certification exam, and the value of that certification to your MA career. This article provides all the information you need on the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification.

Why Earn a Medical Assistant Certification?

Medical assistants (MAs) are technically allowed to practice without a state license or certification. However, 89% of today’s employers either require or strongly prefer MAs with at least one credential. MAs who perform specific duties (such as phlebotomy or x-rays) or who work in specialized fields (such as podiatry or ophthalmology) may be required to have specific training and certification in their area of specialty. In 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also ruled that only credentialed MAs can enter laboratory, radiology, and medical orders into their computerized system.

Even if not required, acquiring your MA certification is never a bad idea. Certification shows you have met specific, industry-recognized standards for competence as a medical assistant. It also assures your employer that you are prepared to begin work in a medical assisting position or take that role to the next level of performance. Certification opens opportunities for greater responsibility, career options, and higher income.

What is the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) Exam?

The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam verifies your competencies for CCMA certification. It is offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Professionals who earn the CCMA certification have the knowledge and skills to safely perform a full range of MA responsibilities.

About The National Healthcareer Association

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is the largest allied health certification agency in the United States, with over 1 million certifications awarded since 1989. Accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the NHA exams ensure that those certified have acquired the skills and knowledge meaningful to potential employers and relevant to today’s job market.

Why Choose CCMA Certification?

The CCMA is offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). According to their website, NHA is more than just a certification provider. They are your certification partner, dedicated to providing tools, resources, advocacy, support, and industry connections to help you succeed.

The National Healthcareer Association offers:

  • NCCA-accredited certification exams
  • Best-in-class customer support and care
  • Access to certification through multiple eligibility pathways
  • Stacked credentials and career advancement opportunities
  • Analytics and reporting solutions

As of 2021, there were 156,508 medical assistants holding CCMA certification, making it the most held MA certification, followed by NCMA certification at 90,335 (2020).

One benefit the CCMA holds over other MA certifications is that the CCMA offers two options for eligibility. One requires completing a full Medical Assisting training program, while the other requires only 1 year of relevant work experience (in the last 3 years). So, if you are a current medical assistant looking to expand your opportunities through certification, CCMA could be your best option.

As always, check with your current or future employer to ensure they recognize the CCMA certification.

Hand arranging healthcare building blocks

Key Advantages of CCMA Certification

  • Most widely held MA certification
  • Validates current knowledge and skills in key areas of MA responsibilities
  • Eligibility option through 1 year of current MA work experience
  • High passing rate of 80%(compared to RMA (73%), CMA (62%), and NCMA (60%– 2020)
  • Free Detailed Test Plan available online
  • Study Guide plus Practice Test available online ($74.00)
  • Recertification completed online

How Many Questions Are on the CCMA Exam?

The exam includes 180 questions (150 scored and 30 unscored pretest questions). Candidates are allowed three (3) hours to complete the examination. Questions are presented in a four-option, multiple-choice format with a single correct answer.

What Is the Content of the CCMA Exam?

The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) Certification Exam is intended to certify that a candidate has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the duties of a Medical Assistant. A complete outline of the topics covered on the test is available on the NHA website.

Here is a breakdown of the questions on the CCMA exam:

Content Category Number of Questions Percentage of Exam
Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science 15 10%
Anatomy and Physiology 8 5%
Clinical Patient Care 84 56%
Patient Care Coordination and Education 12 8%
Administrative Assisting 12 8%
Communication and Customer Service 12 8%
Medical Law and Ethics 7 5%
TOTAL 150 100%

How is the CCMA Exam Scored?

The computerized CCMA exam is a pass/fail exam with a range of possible scaled scores from 200 to 500. Scores across all forms of the CCMA examination are equated and directly comparable. A score of 390 or higher is a passing score. You must answer 78% of the questions correctly to pass.

CCMA Exam Statistics

Below are the CCMA Certification Exam statistics for 2021:

Exams Administered: 44,588 CCMA Certification Exams were administered in 2021.

Exam Pass Rate: 77.08%

Total CCMAs as of 2021: 156,508

What are the Prerequisites for the CCMA Exam?

As previously mentioned, to qualify for the CCMA certification exam, you must meet one of these two requirements:

Requirement 1: 

  • Possess a high school diploma or GED/high school equivalency
  • Complete a medical assistant training or education program within the last 5 years

Or Requirement 2:

  • Possess a high school diploma or GED/high school equivalency
  • 1 year of supervised work experience in the medical assisting field within the last 3 years

How to Register for the CCMA Exam

You can register for the CCMA exam through the NHA website. However, you first need to create an NHA account. For more help with registration, you can live chat with an NHA representative.

Stethoscope next to money

How Much Does It Cost to Take the CCMA Exam?

The fee to take the CCMA exam is $155. In addition, CCMA certification must be renewed every 2 years in two ways:

  1. Recertification fee: $169.00 every two years
  2. CE requirements: Every two years, certificate holders must earn 10 NHA continuing education credits (2 hours of CE equals 1 NHA CE credit)

How Many Times Can You Take the CCMA Exam?

If you fail the CCMA exam, you can retake it three times. After completing the CCMA, you will receive a score report containing a diagnostic breakdown of your performance within the major content domains. This will help you pinpoint the areas where you didn’t score well on during your previous attempt. Candidates who fail the exam must wait at least one month before retaking the exam. Candidates who are unsuccessful after two attempts will be required to wait one full year prior to testing again. The retesting fee for the CCMA is the same as the first test, $155.

How Do I Study for the CCMA Exam?

The CCMA certification exam includes 180 questions (150 scored, 30 unscored) and must be completed in 3 hours. The passing rate for the CCMA is relatively high, but it still covers a lot of material that you must know thoroughly. To help you pass on your first attempt, here are some helpful study tips:

1. Know the Exam Topics

A complete outline of the CCMA certification exam is available on the NHA website. This comprehensive list covers all the topics that could appear on the exam. Review this list and re-study or review any of the topics you are not sure of.

2. Schedule Study Times

This isn’t the time for cramming. This test impacts your future, and it deserves that sort of attention. Schedule set times each week to study for the CCMA exam. Remove all distractions during these periods. Work especially hard on areas where you’re not as confident in your knowledge.

3. Download the Online Study Guide Plus Online Practice Test

NHA provides an interactive review on their website that includes games, quizzes, flashcards, tips from experts, and a 150-question practice test that identifies areas to study. The cost is $74.00.

CCMA Sample Exam

Is the CCMA exam difficult? The more you prepare, the easier the CCMA exam will become. Here are 10 sample questions to give you a feel for the content of the exam. Answers are provided at the bottom of this article.

  1. What does the term edema mean?
    • a) Rash
    • b) Swelling
    • c) Within
    • d) Vomiting
  2. What is the appropriate way to take a radial pulse?
    • a) Place your index finger and middle finger on the wrist, under the thumb
    • b) Place your index finger and middle finger on the wrist, under the pinky finger
    • c) Place your thumb on the side of the neck, next to the trachea
    • d) Place your index finger on the inner side of the upper arm, about halfway between the shoulder and the elbow
  3. A patient is anxious and begins hyperventilating. His hands and lips start to feel numb and tingly, and he feels lightheaded. What is the physiological cause of his symptoms?
    • a) Excess carbon dioxide in the blood
    • b) Excess oxygen in the blood
    • c) Lack of oxygen in the blood
    • d) Lack of carbon dioxide in the blood
  4. Which of the following is NOT one of the five stages of grief as described by the Kübler-Ross model?
    • a) Denial
    • b) Anger
    • c) Bargaining
    • d) Delusions
  5. Which of the following is tracked on a standard growth chart for patients ages 2 to 20?
    • a) Age, weight, BMI
    • b) Age, head circumference, height
    • c) Age, height, and weight
    • d) Age, head circumference, weight, height
  6. A patient is upset and angry after an appointment. She is distraught and unable to pay attention when you tell her what dates are available for her follow-up appointment. This results in some confusion, and the patient accuses you of not listening. What form of defense mechanism is this patient likely demonstrating?
    • a) Reaction formation
    • b) Projection
    • c) Displacement
    • d) Denial
  7. You are asked to give a three-year-old child a dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol). The child weighs 15 kg. The medication order says to give the child a dose of 15 mg/kg. The oral solution concentration is 160 mg/5 mL. What dose of the oral solution should you give the child?
    • a) 7 mL
    • b) 2 mL
    • c) 5 mL
    • d) 9 mL
  8. You have finished all of your assigned tasks and are thinking of leaving a few minutes early for your lunch break when the doctor approaches you and tells you that there are patients waiting to be seen, but the exam rooms have not yet been cleaned after the last patients. You know that this is the responsibility of another medical assistant in the office, but she is on the phone dealing with an important personal problem. What should you do?
    • a) Reassure the doctor that you will take care of the problem, and then quickly clean the rooms yourself
    • b) Ask someone else in the office to clean the patient exam rooms
    • c) Wait until the other medical assistant is off the phone, and then tell her that the rooms need to be cleaned quickly
    • d) Explain to the doctor that cleaning the patient exam rooms isn’t your assignment today, and tell the doctor where to find the appropriate medical assistant
  9. How should you position yourself in an exam room with a patient who seems angry and potentially aggressive?
    • a) Position yourself with a desk between you and the patient
    • b) Position yourself seated next to the patient
    • c) Position yourself as far as possible away from the patient
    • d) Position yourself between the patient and the door
  10. You witness a patient suddenly collapse in the office. You run to the patient and realize she is unconscious, does not have a pulse, and is not breathing. While someone else calls 911, you and your coworkers begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). At what point should you use an automated external defibrillator (AED)?
    • a) As soon as possible
    • b) If the patient still has no pulse after five minutes of CPR
    • c) As soon as emergency medical help arrives
    • d) After one round or two minutes of CPR have been performed

Woman with a stethoscope taking notes

Start by Earning Your MA Diploma at Eagle Gate College

Founded in 1979, Eagle Gate College has provided thousands of graduates with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue a rewarding career in nursing and healthcare. With a curriculum continually updated to meet the changing needs of the healthcare universe, well-equipped labs, and hands-on training from experienced healthcare professionals, we prepare graduates to make a positive impact starting with their first day on the job. Our robust Medical Assisting program combines virtual instruction, hands-on lab exercises, and supervised externship and can be completed in as little as 9 months. Eagle Gate College, in conjunction with Provo College, offers a premier healthcare education at five campus locations in Utah and Idaho.




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