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Health Science | Medical Assisting | Health Science Certifications

What Is the AMT RMA Exam?

April 26th, 2022 | 8 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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The AMT Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam is a healthcare industry certification that measures a student’s proficiency in the skills and knowledge needed to work as a medical assistant.

When a student passes the exam, they earn a certification designating them as a registered medical assistant.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that medical assisting employment will grow 29% through 2029, which means students are flocking towards this certification!

So how can you help your students pass the AMT RMA exam and become certified?

On this page, you’ll learn the details of what’s on the AMT RMA exam and some tips to get your students ready for exam day.

First, let’s discuss AMT since they provide the registered medical assistant exam!

What Is AMT?

American Medical Technologists (AMT) is a nationally-accredited provider of health science certifications.

AMT focuses on certifications for 10 allied health professions that encompass a variety of clinical and laboratory careers.

Out of those 10 certifications, the RMA exam is among the most popular AMT tests because of the number of career opportunities for an AMT medical assistant!

Now that you know a little bit about AMT, let’s get into the details of the RMA exam!

How Is the AMT Registered Medical Assistant Exam Structured?

To become a registered medical assistant, a student must master the subjects on the AMT RMA exam. The AMT medical assistant test consists of 210 questions across four overarching sections, called “work areas:”

  1. Anatomy and Physiology
  2. Administrative Medical Assisting
  3. Clinical Medical Assisting
  4. Clinical Patient Interaction

Each work area is organized with three levels of structure:

  • “Categories” are the major topics found within the work area
  • “Subcategories” are more specific topics related to each category
  • “Competencies” are the individual concepts and skills within each sub-category


The exam has questions pertaining to each subcategory and competency, though the number of questions about each topic will vary.

I. Anatomy and Physiology

The Anatomy and Physiology work area includes 44 test items across two categories:

  1. Body Systems
  2. Medical Terminology

The Body Systems category includes three subcategories related to the major body systems; common diseases and disorders; and wellness and nutrition.

The Medical Terminology category has five subcategories focused on skills related to common medical terms, word parts, abbreviations, and medical symbols.

These foundational concepts are crucial for anyone interested in working as a medical assistant.

II. Administrative Medical Assisting

The Administrative Medical Assisting work area includes 56 test items across four categories:

  1. Insurance
  2. Medical Receptionist / Secretarial / Clerical
  3. Medical Law and Ethics
  4. Human Relations

The Insurance category includes four subcategories pertaining to types of medical insurance, insurance claims, billing codes, and payments.

The Medical Receptionist / Secretarial / Clerical category includes seven subcategories related to common administrative duties. These include competencies such as scheduling, communication skills, patient records, basic computer skills, and general office safety.

The Medical Laws and Ethics category has four subcategories that teach students about laws that impact healthcare, credentialing requirements for healthcare professionals, medical law terminology, and medical ethics.

The Human Relations category includes two subcategories focused on the relationships that healthcare workers build with patients and other professionals. A major portion of these competencies involves understanding the cultural diversity among people they interact with in the healthcare setting.

Overall, these categories help students learn the more administrative duties a medical assistant may be responsible for in the healthcare setting.

III. Clinical Medical Assisting

The Clinical Medical Assisting work area includes 39 test items across five categories:

  1. Asepsis
  2. Sterilization
  3. Instruments
  4. Laboratory Procedures
  5. Minor Surgery

The Asepsis category includes four subcategories related to bloodborne pathogens, safety precautions, medical asepsis, and surgical asepsis.

The Sterilization category has four subcategories focused on common procedures related to sanitization, disinfection, and sterilization.

The Instruments category includes two subcategories related to identifying, using, and handling common medical instruments.

The Laboratory Procedures category is made up of two subcategories about working in a medical lab. These include competencies related to safety guidelines, regulations, quality control, and commonly used lab equipment.

The Minor Surgery category includes two subcategories focused on common surgical procedures and the instruments used to perform them.

These categories ensure students are knowledgeable of the critical clinical skills needed to keep the healthcare environment safe for both patients and other healthcare workers.

IV. Clinical Patient Interaction

The Clinical Patient Interaction work area includes 71 test items across eight categories:

  1. Patient Education
  2. Vital Signs and Measurement
  3. Physical Examinations
  4. Clinical Pharmacology
  5. Therapeutic Modalities
  6. Laboratory Procedures
  7. Electrocardiography (ECG)
  8. First Aid, CPR, and Emergency Response

The Patient Education category includes one subcategory related to communicating with patients about medical treatments and proper wellness. This includes providing educational materials like brochures when appropriate.

The Vital Signs and Measurement category has six subcategories that teach students about measuring vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and temperature.

The Physical Examinations category is made up of five subcategories related to knowledge and skills required for a physical exam. These include patient positions, methods of examination, and visual acuity procedures.

The Clinical Pharmacology category includes four subcategories focused on the pharmacological information medical assistants need to understand, such as prescription requirements and commonly used medications.

The Therapeutic Modalities category is made up of three categories related to heat treatment, cold treatment, and alternative therapies like massage.

The Laboratory Procedures category includes one subcategory focused on the skills and knowledge a medical assistant needs to perform specimen collection and testing.

The Electrocardiography category has three subcategories related to working with 12-lead ECGs and other common ECG procedures.

The First Aid, CPR, and Emergency Response category includes three subcategories pertaining to general healthcare skills a medical assistant must have. These include skills such as working with an emergency crash cart, doing CPR procedures, and understanding the legal responsibilities related to those procedures.

What Is the AMT RMA Certification Process?

On exam day, candidates have two hours to complete the AMT RMA certification at an approved Pearson VUE testing center.

The exam is administered via an online portal and the results are automatically calculated and shared with the candidate on site.

If they’ve passed, students are an “active certified member” of AMT and recognized as a registered medical assistant!

So now that you know the details of the AMT RMA exam, there’s one last question -- how do you prepare your students for success?

How Do You Prepare Students for the AMT RMA Exam?

When it comes to preparing students for the AMT RMA exam, many teachers head straight for test prep materials.

The AMT’s review course and practice exam can be a great way to help students with last-minute prep, but they don’t help you teach the material.

On top of that, teaching to the test can negatively impact your students’ long-term retention of information and accidentally lead you to skip important concepts the RMA certification exam doesn’t cover!

That’s why it’s smart to take a two-step approach to prep students for the AMT Registered Medical Assistant exam:

  1. Teach your medical assisting curriculum
  2. Incorporate test prep as a supplement

Start by teaching the foundational skills and concepts that students need to know to work in the healthcare field.

That often involves discussing medical assisting skills and drawing from your own professional experience to show real-world context.

In addition, it’s smart to incorporate topics like customer service, professionalism, and communication to help your students hone their soft skills for working with patients.

Once your course is almost over, it’s time to throw in your AMT RMA certification prep materials.

Many teachers administer practice exams to measure how ready students are for test day and then do any final review based on the results.

Overall, this approach will help you teach the knowledge and skills your students need for success on the Registered Medical Assistant exam and in their careers!

To make this process work, you need to seamlessly tie both steps together in your classroom.

Some teachers accomplish this by building their own medical assisting curriculum by creating lessons, activities, and assessments from scratch.

It’s a great way to provide a customized learning experience for your students, but it can take an entire summer of planning (or longer) to complete!

That’s why medical assisting instructors have implemented a comprehensive curriculum system to do the heavy lifting when it comes to planning lessons and preparing students for the AMT RMA exam!

Prepare Students for the AMT RMA Exam with HealthCenter21

Medical assisting instructors across the US use the HealthCenter21 digital curriculum system as a primary instructional resource to teach concepts and skills found on the AMT RMA exam.

HealthCenter21 is designed to make your life easier so you can focus on helping your students prepare for their careers as medical assistants.

It’s here to help take your students from zero to certified by providing up-to-date lessons, engaging activities, scenario-based learning, and automatically-graded assessments.

Want to learn more?

Click below to learn what HealthCenter21 is and how teachers use it in their classrooms!

Learn More about Teaching Medical Assisting with HealthCenter21