What Is The Certified Polysomnographic Technician Exam?

A polysomnographic technician, or polysomnographic technologist, performs sleep studies — also known as “polysomnography” (PSG) — on subjects usually suffering from sleep disorders. It is a highly technical, trusted and critical job at the advent of sleep science.

A polysomnographic technician, or polysomnographic technologist, performs sleep studies — also known as “polysomnography” (PSG) — on subjects usually suffering from sleep disorders. It is a highly technical, trusted and critical job at the advent of sleep science.

Because of this, the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) sets credentialing standards known as the Certified Polysomnographic Technician (CPSGT), a certification that allows those new to the sleep science field to begin their careers.

The CPSGT exam has been designed to determine participants’ knowledge about PSG and aptitude for the requirements of entry-level polysomnographic technicians. The BRPT gives CPSGT certificate holders three years to earn their registered polysomnographic technology (RPSFT) credential, or it rescinds their CPSGT title.

Are any Qualifications Required Before Receiving CPSGT Certification?

The BRPT requires that candidates either:

  • Have at least three months of clinical experience in polysomnography and have completed a “self-study” education program
  • Are within two months of their graduation from an accredited polysomnography technology education program
  • Or have completed a designated “focused” education program or combination of self-study education and focused education programs

Beyond these requirements, candidates must have a Basic Life Support certification or equivalent and follow the BRPT standards of conduct, as well as pass the CPSGT exam.

What Topics Are Covered On The CPSGT Exam?

There are 60 multiple choice questions on the CPSGT exam plus 15 unscored, multiple choice pretest questions. These 60 questions cover a range of related topics and, in general, participants will be expected to demonstrate expertise on:

  • Basic math computation skills
  • Basic verbal communication skills
  • Basic written communication skills
  • Basic computer knowledge
  • Safety
  • Medical terminology
  • Patient confidentiality
  • Basic patient care and emergency procedures
  • Medical ethics

To do well on the CPSGT exam, test takers should also have specific knowledge about critical areas, in addition to basic knowledge around the above topics. These specific areas include:

  • Sleep physiology
  • Respiratory Physiology
  • Cardiac Physiology
  • Sleep apnea and diagnostic criteria
  • Adult and periodic testing procedures for sleep apnea
  • Practice parameters for sleep apnea
  • Scoring rules
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) waveform morphology
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) intervention, treatment and therapy
  • Recognizing needs for bilevel therapy and supplemental oxygen

How Is The CPSGT Exam Divided?

The CPSGT exam is broken into three domains, each of which covers a critical topic for certified polysomnographic technicians.

  1. Domain One: Covers 45 percent of the total test and quizzes participants on sleep study preparation and performance.

The first task within this domain covers 15 to 19 percent of the total domain and has test takers review patient information and perform a clinical assessment through the following:

  • Verify a clinician’s orders and testing indications
  • History and physical
  • Medications
  • Patient interview and orientation
  • Questionnaires

The second task, which covers 22 to 26 percent of the first domain, covers technical preparation for procedures and asks about the following:

  • Equipment and supplies
  • Montages
  • Identifying anatomically appropriate locations
  • Site preparation and application
  • Impedance verification and calibrations

The third task makes up 30 to 33 percent of domain one, and quizzes participants on how to follow procedures and protocols by asking about the below:

  • Adult PSG protocols
  • Pediatric PSG protocols
  • Daytime testing protocols like a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) or maintenance of wakefulness test (MWT)
  • Home sleep apnea testing (HSAT)
 

Finally, the fourth task within domain one, which covers 26 to 30 percent of the whole domain, is designed to test applicants’ ability to identify, respond to and document findings. Specifically, it covers the following:

  • Waveform variations (including abnormal electroencephalographies (EEGs) and electrocardiograms (EKGs))
  • Artifacts
  • Equipment malfunctions
  • Physiologic and/or clinical events
  • Settings such as filters, sensitivity and gain
  1. Domain Two: Covers 30 percent of the total test and quizzes participants on sleep physiology recognition and summary

The first task within domain two covers the participant’s ability to recognize physiological events in adults and pediatrics, making up 67 to 78 percent of the total domain. Specifically, it tests on the following:

  • Sleep stages
  • Arousals
  • Respiratory events
  • Desaturations
  • Movements
  • Cardiac events

The second task of domain two makes up the remaining 22 to 33 percent of the domain and asks test takers to perform calculations and document their observations. It covers:

  • Formulas like the Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) and sleep latency
  • The ability to conduct a technician summary
  1. Domain Three: Covers 25 percent of the total test and quizzes participants on therapeutic treatment and intervention.

The first task within domain three focuses on the test taker’s ability to administer CPAP and bilevel therapy and makes up 80 to 93 percent of the whole domain. This includes:

  • Titration guidelines
  • Acclimation and proper interface fit
  • Troubleshoot intolerance
  • Explaining the importance of therapy

The second task within domain three makes up the remaining 7 to 20 percent of the whole domain and focuses on oxygen therapy by quizzing participants on their knowledge of oxygen guidelines.

How Is The CPSGT Exam Administered?

In order to take the CPSGT exam, you must schedule and examination through the BRPT. There is an exam fee of $240 and the test can be taken at test center locations around the world. The exam is computer-based and, once completed, will give the candidate a pass/fail notification immediately.

How Can I Do Well On The CPSGT Exam?

As the CPSGT is a technically-detailed and knowledge-intensive course, extensive studying is recommended, even if you already have experience in the field. Many candidates begin reviewing relevant material at least six months in advance.

Utilizing available study guides and flashcards is highly recommended. With those in hand, setting up a consistent study routine to review the material, alternating between the resources and connecting with a study partner or group that can quiz you using that material will all be helpful in familiarizing yourself with the topics covered in the test.

CPSGT Study Guide

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by Enoch Morrison | Last Updated: January 9, 2019