The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) administers the Adult Echocardiography (AE) specialty examination to certify the continuing competency of ultrasound professionals.
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The AE exam consists of 150 multiple-choice and video case questions covering the anatomy, physiology, and sonographic evaluation techniques of the heart. Examinees are given three hours to complete the test. Exam takers must successfully pass both the Adult Echocardiography specialty and Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) exams within five years of one another to earn their Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) credential. The two exams can be taken in any order.
The Adult Echocardiography specialty exam is graded on a percentage scale, with some topics given greater weight in the overall score than others. Questions are based on applied knowledge of cardiac anatomy, physiology, congenital defects, disease, and sonographic evaluation techniques.
The test topics, in order of percentage importance, are:
- valvular heart disease (15-25%)
- ventricular function (10-20%)
- technique (10-20%)
- cardiomyopathies (5-15%)
- anatomy and physiology (5-10%)
- diseases of the aorta (3-7%)
- congenital heart disease in the adult (3-7%)
- Doppler (3-7%)
- pericardial disease (2-8%)
- cardiac tumors (2-5%)
- systemic and pulmonary hypertensive heart disease (1-3%)
- stress echo (0-3%)
An additional 5-10% is comprised of miscellaneous questions on arrhythmias and conduction disturbances, right- side volume overload, and other related topics.
AE specialty exam candidates can take advantage of many online test preparation resources, including content outlines and study guides. Several print-based publishers also offer exam prep manuals with tips on effective test-taking strategies.
Applying to take the Adult Echocardiography specialty examination is a multistep process. To qualify, candidates must submit proof of education; verification of clinical experience; transcripts and licenses; and letters from a supervising physician, technologist, or program director to the ARDMS.
Once their application is approved, examinees must pay exam or renewal fees, and sign up to take the exam at a local test center. The ARDMS provides comprehensive guidelines for the application, registration, and scheduling process, including checklists to ensure that each step is completed appropriately.
After completing the Adult Echocardiography specialty exam, examinees will have immediate online access to their test results. The test is scored on a scale from 300 to 700; a score of 555 or above is a passing grade. Candidates who do not pass the exam must wait a minimum of 72 hours to reapply and 60 days to retest.
Other ARDMS Tests
- Abdomen (AB) Specialty Examination
- ARDMS Test Breakdown
- Breast (BR) Specialty Examination
- Fetal Echocardiography (FE) Specialty Examination for RDCS
- Fetal Echocardiography (FE) Specialty Examination for RDMS
- Neurosonology (NE) Specialty Examination
- Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBGYN) Specialty Examination
- Pediatric Echocardiography (PE) Specialty Examination
- Vascular Technology (VT) Specialty Examination
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by Enoch Morrison | Last Updated: January 17, 2019