The Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) examination is administered in conjunction with various specialty exams by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) to certify the continuing competency of ultrasound professionals.
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Exam takers must successfully pass the SPI exam in conjunction with any specialty exam to earn their Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) credential.
Examinees are given two hours to complete the SPI exam, which consists of 120 multiple-choice questions covering fundamental physical principles and instrumentation requirements for the RDMS, Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS), and Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) credentials.
A passing score on the SPI exam is required for medical professionals who wish to earn one or more specialty credentials in sonography of the Abdomen (AB); Breast (BR); Neurosonology (NE); Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN); Adult, Fetal, or Pediatric Echocardiography (AE, FE, PE); or Vascular Technology (VT). The SPI and corresponding specialty exam can be taken in any order, as long as both are passed within a five-year period.
SPI Exam Overview
ARDMS Exam Format
The Sonography Principles & Instrumentation examination questions are divided into percentage-weighted topics based on knowledge of patient care and evaluation, and use of sonography instruments. The specific topics covered, in order of importance in overall test percentage, are:
- pulse-echo instrumentation (30%)
- physics principles (20%)
- ultrasound transducers (20%)
- Doppler instrumentation and hemodynamics (20%)
- quality assurance/quality control of equipment (5%)
- patient care, safety, and communication (5%)
To take the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation examination, candidates must pay any exam or renewal fees and submit qualifying documentation, including proof of formal education; verification of clinical experience; transcripts and licenses; and letters from a supervising physician, technologist, or program director The ARDMS provides comprehensive guidelines and checklists for how to apply for, register for, schedule, and take both the SPI and specialty exams.
Once a candidate has taken the SPI exam, he or she will receive test results in the form of a point value from 300 to 700; a result of 555 or above is a passing score. Candidates who do not pass the exam must wait a minimum of 72 hours before reapplying.
There are numerous online resources for preparing to take the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation examination, including practice tests, content outlines, study guides, and sample questions based on the actual test. Printed study guides with sample exams and test-taking strategies are also available from several publishers.