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Health Science | National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

What Is the NHA CPT Exam & How Do You Prepare Students for It?

June 28th, 2022 | 8 min. read

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The NHA CPT exam is an industry certification developed by the National Healthcareer Association to measure a student’s knowledge and skills needed to become a certified phlebotomy technician.

When someone passes the exam, they earn a certification designating that they can work in a healthcare facility as a phlebotomy technician.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities for phlebotomists and phlebotomy technicians will grow 22% through 2030. That means there’s huge industry demand for phlebotomists, which is why students are flocking towards this certification option!

But how can you prepare them to pass the NHA CPT exam?

On this page, we’ll share the details of what’s on the exam and give you some ideas on how to help your students succeed.

Let’s start with some background on the National Healthcareer Association since they provide the test!

What Is the National Healthcareer Association?


The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is a nationally-accredited provider of industry-recognized health science certifications.

NHA’s mission is “empowering people to access a better future.” This includes both improving the quality of patient care and providing more opportunities for students to become healthcare professionals.

The NHA accomplishes this mission by offering eight healthcare certifications:

  • Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)
  • Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Electronic Health Record Specialist (CEHRS)
  • EKG Technician (CET)
  • Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  • Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A)
  • Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)
  • Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

Overall, NHA has awarded more than 750,000 certifications across the US since 1989.

Now that you know a bit about NHA, let’s dive into the details of the NHA phlebotomy technician certification!

How Is the NHA CPT Exam Structured?


The NHA CPT exam is made up of 100 questions (plus 20 pretest questions the NHA uses to gather data).

These questions fall under five topic areas, which the NHA refers to as “domains:”

  1. Safety and Compliance
  2. Patient Preparation
  3. Routine Blood Collections
  4. Special Collections
  5. Processing

Each domain has a number of subtopics that are categorized as either knowledge statements or task statements.

Knowledge statements refer to information and concepts students need to know. Task statements relate to duties that the student will need to know how to perform.

Domain 1 - Safety and Compliance

The Safety and Compliance domain has 15 knowledge statements and 14 task statements related to safety precautions, first aid, bloodborne pathogens, and more.

For phlebotomy technicians, it’s crucial to remain compliant with safety regulations at all times because of the hazards of working with patient blood.

Domain 2 - Patient Preparation

The Patient Preparation domain includes 12 knowledge statements and 10 task statements related to work that takes place prior to collecting samples.

These include explaining procedures to patients, determining the collection site, verifying patient compliance, and more.

Domain 3 - Routine Blood Collections

The Routine Blood Collections domain is made up of 22 knowledge statements and 16 task statements.

This domain is the largest portion of the exam as it includes most of the day-to-day tasks a phlebotomy technician is responsible for, such as:

  • Following tourniquet application and removal procedures
  • Following order of draw when performing venipuncture
  • Labelling specimens
  • Performing post-procedural patient care

Domain 4 - Special Collections

The Special Collections domain has 15 knowledge statements and 7 task statements related to atypical blood collections, such as peripheral blood smears, blood culture collections, and collections for blood donations.

Even though a phlebotomy technician won’t encounter these types of collections on a daily basis, it’s important to know how to perform them when needed!

Domain 5 - Processing

The Processing domain is made up of 8 knowledge statements and 7 task statements related to steps to take after a specimen has been collected.

Overall, it’s crucial for the phlebotomy technician to follow the correct guidelines and procedures after obtaining a specimen.

Core Knowledge and Skills

In addition to these five domains, the NHA has a list of “Core Knowledge and Skills” that will be used in the context of different questions on the exam.

In total, there are 16 core knowledge topics:

  1. The role of phlebotomy technicians in laboratory testing
  2. The role of phlebotomy technicians in patient care
  3. Medical terminology related to phlebotomy
  4. Aseptic techniques
  5. Blood components
  6. Blood group systems
  7. Phlebotomy-related vascular anatomy
  8. Cardiovascular system
  9. Hemostasis and coagulation process
  10. The impact of pre-analytical errors on test results
  11. Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act
  12. Documentation and reporting requirements
  13. Verbal and non-verbal communication
  14. Patient characteristics impacting communication
  15. Professionalism
  16. Ethical standards applicable to the practice of phlebotomy

Overall, the NHA’s CPT test plan includes everything your students need to know!

On test day, students have two hours to complete the exam. This can occur either at your school or a designated testing center.

Students often take the exam via an online portal, but paper-based tests are given in special circumstances.

When testing is complete, the results are posted to the students’ individual online accounts within two day.

So know that you know everything that will be on the exam, how do you actually prepare your students for the NHA phlebotomy test?

How Do You Prepare Your Students for the NHA Phlebotomy Exam?


When preparing students for the NHA CPT exam, many teachers gravitate towards test prep materials.

The NHA has a number of resources like study guides and practice exams, but these materials don’t actually help you teach in your classroom.

To set your students up for success in your classroom and on the test, it’s best to take a two-step approach.

First, teach the foundational knowledge and skills via your daily lessons, hands-on skills practice, and assessments.

Once your students have the information down, it’s time to break out the test prep materials to reinforce the information and help them review for the exam!

The most important aspect of this strategy is to provide a well-rounded learning experience for your students. After all, they’ll need to know more than just what’s on the test for a successful career!

To accomplish this, some teachers spend their summer building a curriculum from scratch.

While this is a great option to plan your classes from day one up until test day, it takes a lot of time and energy -- and who has that to spare?

That’s why health science instructors have started implementing a system they can use to teach their classes and prepare their students for certifications.

Prepare Your Students for the NHA CPT Exam with HealthCenter21


Health science instructors across the US use the HealthCenter21 digital curriculum system to teach key concepts and prepare students for the NHA CPT exam.

The system is designed to help your students succeed in the classroom, on the exam, and in their future careers and phlebotomy technicians.

This is made possible with thousands of ready-to-use resources, interactive scenarios, classroom management tools, and more.

In addition, the curriculum is mapped to the NHA CPT exam so you can see exactly how it lines up with the certification standards!

Click below to get your NHA CPT certification success guide!

Download the National Health Science Assessment Guide