One quick look on any of the search engines reveals various EMS courses and study guides available. After completing paramedic school they all proclaim to assure your successful passing of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam. Each one claims to have the best website, the best guide, or better practice tests, each declaring there is only “one” that is best for passing the exam. Nonetheless, before you invest time in a website or money in a guide, let’s look at some important suggestions.
First, know what type of “student” you are. Do you learn, retain and comprehend better with visual information or oral presentations? Next, what are your strengths? Do you excel in hands on testing or is written testing your strong point? In paramedic training courses do you study better in groups, with an advisor, or individually? In paramedic school did you do better with an advisor or could you work independently?
Once you answer these questions, you can decide what the best approach to studying for the NREMT exam is. Even more important, you can determine if a tutor/advisor is needed, or if you need to invest in purchasing a study guide. Furthermore, despite what type of student you are, it is critical you study for the exam. You could be the top student in your paramedic training school, but that does not guarantee you will pass the NREMT exam.
NREMT is implemented through an internet based testing program. The Computer Based Testing (CBT) which the NREMT is currently implementing for the NREMT exam is named CAT or Computer Adaptive Testing. Exams are designed to make certain each potential paramedic candidate receives an allocation of items from six chief categories: Airway & Breathing, Cardiology, Medical, Trauma, OB/Gyn/Peds, and Operations. As you answer questions, the computer program determines your capabilities and adjusts questions accordingly. You may worry something is wrong if the exam only takes a short period of time. However, the computer merely determined that you reached a high level—or that you are testing well above the level of competency in the CAT exam. The computer stops the NREMT exam when it is 95% positive that the EMT candidate has reached the necessary level of competency. As a result, each exam is customized exclusively for the individual EMT candidate and this is another important reason to know what type of student you are and how you “test”. Your paramedic training courses should give you a good idea. Furthermore, and though this may seem obvious, it is worth mentioning; as the NREMT exam is computer based, be sure you are comfortable with a computer, navigating pages and interrupting the directions.
The exam includes cognitive and psychomotor portions. The psychomotor examination is hands-on, allowing you to demonstrate the skills you have learned in your paramedic training courses or at paramedic school.
The NREMT exam is NOT based upon the paramedic school text books used in EMS courses. The exam is based upon the NREMT Practice Analysis done every five years. EMT school text books only give you their interpretation of those standards. Regardless, the best way to be prepared is to know what you covered in class. Put extra emphasis to studying the areas you struggled in, or the EMT courses that were the most difficult to pass. There are very good study guides available. Check the reviews, make sure they are from reputable sources, or ask a paramedic what one they suggest; all of these will tips will help you choose the guide you need.
• The NREMT test will not have black or white answers to the questions, meaning questions with one obviously correct answer. If you are uncertain, start by eliminating the answers you know are incorrect and then choose the best possible answer from those remaining. Usually two are obviously incorrect, leaving two remaining answers to choose from.
• If the questions seem to become more complex, do not be concerned. The program is merely finding your level of capability, your “knowledge” level, and will adjust as you answer questions.
• You CANNOT skip a question. You must answer the question presented before the program allows you to proceed to the next question. Do not let that frustrate you. Again, eliminate and move on.
• Look out for words like except, always, never, and other words that force an answer or puts limits on the potentially correct answer.
• Read the entire question thoroughly. Do this at least twice and prepare the answer in your head before you look at the multiple choice answers. Looking at the answer choices before reading and/or understanding the question thoroughly could lead you to choose an incorrect answer.
• Do not become frustrated and complicate the question or scenario situation. Read the question as it is presented to you, and do not read “in between the lines”. This will cause you to overlook the basics, usually what the question is pointing to.
Last, and most important…RELAX. Sit comfortably, and breathe. Remember, you are taking this exam to become certified in one of the most elite professions, that of an EMT paramedic; a professional Emergency Medical Technician who is trained to respond under critical, tense and stressful situations. If you can perform your duties as an EMT or paramedic under those conditions, then you can take this test and not let stress or anxiety overcome the clear thinking needed to pass the NREMT exam.