Advance Your Career as a Medical Assistant by Earning RMA Certification
Throughout the field of healthcare, the role of the Medical Assistant (MA) continues to expand and include more complex administrative and clinical duties. For this reason, 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 certifications, click here to read our guide on the best 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 Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) 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 certification. MAs who perform specific duties, or who work in specialized fields, 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 are allowed to enter laboratory, radiology, and medical orders into their computerized system.
Even though it’s not required, earning certification shows that you have met the 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. As a result, certification can offer opportunities for greater responsibility, more career options, and higher income.
What is the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Exam?
The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification confirms a Medical Assistant who has been credentialed through American Medical Technologists (AMT). According to AMT, the benefits of earning your Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification include:
- Getting hired
- Cost-effective maintenance
- Practical requirements and reasonable costs
- Simple and straightforward testing and credentialing process
- Exclusive membership benefits
About American Medical Technologists (AMT)
American Medical Technologists (AMT) is a not-for-profit association of allied health professionals. In addition to MA certification, AMT provides its members ongoing support in maintaining skills and competencies, growing in their chosen professions, and sustaining quality in the workplace.
Why Choose RMA Certification?
The RMA certification validates your ability to carry out the full range of medical assistant duties, including clinical medical assisting, patient interaction, and medical administration. In addition, about 22% of the test confirms your knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. The RMA is a respected credential for a well-rounded MA. With a slightly greater focus on the clinical side of MA services, the RMA is also an excellent choice for MAs who may want to pursue the clinical and patient care aspects of medical assisting.
Founded in 1939, American Medical Technologists is the oldest certifying organization among the top four MA certifications. As of 2020, there were 66,603 RMAs, making RMA certification the fourth most popular MA certification, after CCMA at 132,321, NCMAs at 90,335, and CMA at 87,623.
Key Advantages of RMA Certification
- Highly recognized MA credential
- Validates knowledge of key areas
- Confirms important MA skills
- RMA is nationally accredited by NCCA
- Ensures current knowledge and skills
- High passing rate 77% (compare to CMA (67%), NCMA (60%), and CCMA 77.53%)
- Study resources available online
- Practice exam available online ($30)
- Downloadable certified member card
- Career development services for members
How Many Questions are on the CMA Exam?
The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Certification Exam requires an in-depth understanding of the human body, the administration and clinical delivery of medical assisting, and patient interaction. The computerized exam consists of 210 multiple-choice questions.
What is on the RMA Exam?
Here is a breakdown of the questions you’ll have to answer when taking the RMA exam:
|Work Area||Number of Questions||Percentage of Exam|
|I.||Anatomy and Physiology||46||21.9%|
|II.||Administrative Medical Assisting||75||35.7%|
|III.||Clinical Medical Assisting||31||14.7%|
|IV.||Clinical Patient Interaction||58||27.6%|
How is the RMA Exam Scored?
The RMA certification exam consists of 210 questions. You will need to answer 147 questions (70%) correctly in order to pass.
RMA Exam Statistics
Below are the statistics on the RMA Certification Exam for 2020:
- Exams Administered: 8,193 RMA (AMT) Certification Exams were administered in 2020.
- Exam Pass Rate: 77%
- Total RMAs (AMT) as 2020: 66,603
What are the Prerequisites for the RMA Exam?
Applicants must meet one of the following routes to be qualified to take the RMA certification exam:
- Education. Applicant must be a recent graduate of, or scheduled to graduate from, an accredited MA program or a program that is housed within an accredited institution.
- Military. Applicant must be a recent graduate of, or scheduled to graduate from a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces.
- Work Experience. Applicant must be employed as a medical assistant for a minimum of 5 of the last 7 years (with no more than 2 of those years as an instructor in a post-secondary medical assistant program).
- Instructor. Applicant must be currently teaching at an accredited medical assisting program, have completed a course of instruction in a healthcare discipline related to medical assisting, and have a minimum of five years of full-time teaching experience in a medical assisting discipline.
How to Register for the RMA Exam
Since the RMA exam is administered by American Medical Technologists (AMT), applicants should visit the AMT website in order to register.
Once your Application for Certification is complete and officially approved by AMT, an Authorization to Test letter is posted on your AMT home page. At the same time, AMT sends Pearson VUE an electronic authorization indicating that you are approved and eligible for examination and how the test will be delivered (at a Pearson VUE site / Online using a personal computer). Upon receipt of the Authorization letter, you can log on to the Pearson VUE website or call Pearson VUE directly to schedule an examination time and place. The letter contains the telephone number and other important testing information.
How Much Does it Cost to Take the RMA?
The fee to take the RMA exam is $120. Additionally, you must take the following steps in order to maintain your RMA certification:
- Annual membership fees: $60 per year
- 3-Year CCP requirements: Every three years, you must earn 30 CCP (Certification Continuation Program) points by taking continuing education (CE) courses, or by attending relevant meetings, trainings, and webinars. In addition, there is a $205 fee every three years.
How Many Times Can You Take the RMA Exam?
If you don’t pass the exam, you can retake the it any time after 45 days from the previous attempt. A non-refundable fee of $90 is required for each additional test. You are limited to 4 exam attempts for the RMA examination.
How Do I Study for the RMA Exam?
The RMA certification exam includes 210 multiple-choice questions and must be completed in two hours. It covers a lot of information but if you study hard and know the material, you should pass the test on your first attempt. Here are some helpful study tips:
1. Know the Exam Topics
A complete outline of the RMA certification exam is available on the AMT website. This comprehensive list covers all the topics that could appear on the exam. Review this list and look up or review any the topics you are not sure of.
2. Schedule Study Times
Schedule set times each week to study for the RMA exam. Remove all distractions during these periods. Start studying as soon as possible to avoid last-minute cramming and give yourself more time to review areas you are not confident about.
3. Take RMA Practice Exam
AMT provides a practice test on their website. The cost of the practice exam is $175. These are not the same questions that will appear on the actual test, but they are the same subjects, and you’ll gain valuable experience taking this type of test.
4. Take an RMA Exam Review Course
AMT offers review courses online for RMA candidates in the areas of General Knowledge, MA Administration, and MA Clinical Practice. These courses are a great way to refresh your knowledge and make certain you understand all the concepts.
RMA Sample Quiz
To judge for yourself the difficulty of the exam, here are a few sample questions from an RMA practice exam.
Please find the answers at the bottom of this article.
1) Which of the following prefixes means “fast”?
2) The S-shaped portion of the large intestines that connects to the rectum:
(A) ascending colon
(B) descending colon
(C) sigmoid colon
(E) transverse colon
3) Any information that is entered into a computer is termed:
(C) None of the given answers are correct
4) A rigid removable device that is used to support or immobilize a limb or part of the spine:
5) The posterior eye cavity (located between the lens and the retina) is filled with:
(A) aqueous humor
(B) vitreous humor
(E) serous fluid
6) Information describing a patient’s employment and education would be included in which component of the medical history?
(A) Personal data
(B) Systems review
(C) Past medical history
(D) Social history
(E) Family history
7) In order to keep track of a patient’s progress over time, the physician will most likely record the patient’s medical information according to the:
(B) Nonsource-oriented method
(C) None of the given answers are correct
(D) Source-oriented method
(E) Alphabetical method
8) Allergy testing is an example of which type of medication?
(A) Diagnostic medication
(B) Replacement medication
(C) Therapeutic medication
(D) Prophylaxis medication
(E) Palliative medication
9) Which type of membrane lines the walls of body cavities that open to the external environment?
(A) Mucous membrane
(B) None of the given answers are correct
(C) Synovial membrane
(D) Serous membrane
(E) Cutaneous membrane
10) The body of the letter should be located:
(A) 3 line spaces above the address
(B) 3 line spaces below the letterhead
(C) 1 line space above the signature
(D) 2 line spaces below the greeting
(E) 2 line spaces below the date
Begin Your Journey by Earning an MA Diploma
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 needs of healthcare, 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.
ANSWERS TO RMA PRACTICE QUIZ
1) C 2) C 3) E 4) A 5) B 6) D 7) A 8) A 9) A 10) D