The Certified Surgical Technologist exam is for people who have completed an accredited surgical technologist program and are ready to enter the profession. The test measures a candidate’s knowledge and ability to handle the most frequent and important tasks involved in being a surgical technologist.
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What Should You Expect During the Registration Process?
Before you can register, you first need to apply to receive an ATT (Authorization To Test) letter. In your application, you will have to provide the following items:
- A copy of your graduation certificate
- A notarized letter from the program director that includes your name, the degree awarded, and your graduation date.
- A transcript
You will also need to pay the $290 exam fee ($190 for AST members). Once your application is approved, you will be able to book an appointment to take the test.
When and Where Can You Take the CST Exam?
The CST is taken by appointment only at one of the many locations that offer the exam. You can register online and find a list of locations closest to you during the registration process. Appointments are available daily, Monday through Saturday, at either 9 am or 1:30 pm.
To make sure you get the appointment you want while allowing yourself enough time to fully prepare, you should make the appointment at least three months in advance. You are able to book appointments as early as six months in advance.
CST Exam Questions
What Should You Expect During the CST Exam?
The CST is administered by computer and you will have four hours to answer all 175 questions. The questions are divided into three main sections: peri-operative care, additional duties, and basic science. Each of these sections is further subdivided as follows:
- 29 questions – Pre-operative care
- 66 questions – Intra-operative procedure
- 10 questions – Post-operative procedure
- 10 questions – Administrative and personnel duties
- 10 questions – Equipment maintenance and sterilization
- 30 questions – Anatomy and physiology
- 10 questions – Microbiology
- 10 questions – Surgical pharmacology
On exam day, plan to arrive at the location at least 15 minutes early with two forms of valid ID:
- At least one of those IDs needs to be a driver’s license, passport, state ID, or military ID with your photograph on it.
- The second ID can be any of the options listed above or an employee ID, student ID, or Social Security card.
Except for your ID, you should leave all other personal items at home. You are not allowed to have any electronics, calculators, textbooks, study materials, or even pencils. The test center will provide you with pencils and scratch paper to use during the exam but you need to return anything you use when you are finished.
Certified Surgical Technologist Introduction
What Score Do You Need to Pass?
In order to become certified, you need to get a minimum of 118 out of 175 responses correct. You will find out within five minutes of taking the test whether or not you passed or failed but it will take up to two weeks to receive your official score reports.
If your score was below 118, you are able to retake the exam up to three times in a single calendar year. However, you will have to reapply and pay full price for each attempt so it’s best to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to prepare before you retake the exam.
How Should You Prepare for the CST Exam?
Plan to spend around 15-20 hours per week over the next 12 or so weeks preparing for the exam. You can find a complete list of the textbooks and references from which all of the exam questions are taken on the NBSTSA website and it’s a good idea to read through and study each source thoroughly.
In addition to all that reading, you will want to diversify your study methods by including other materials like practice exams, CST study guides, and flashcards. Because it’s content-based, flashcards are one of the most effective methods for memorizing key concepts and information.
With our flashcards, you can focus on repetition of the most important concepts for the CST exam without spending needless hours trying to pick out the topics from the source material that are most likely to be on the test.
These flashcards work perfectly in combination with our study guide which was thoroughly researched by our team of experts. The guide not only covers all of the material relevant to the exam but provides proven methods and strategies for effective studying including a study plan, test-taking tips, and a list of things to do in the 24 hours leading up to the exam so that you are fully prepared to do your best.
by Enoch Morrison | Last Updated: January 9, 2019