Phlebotomy Test Preparation and Resources
While taking the phlebotomy test is only mandatory in a few states, voluntary certification is often required by employers. For this reason, you should seriously consider taking the certification exam, in order to increase your chances of landing a job once you’ve completed an accredited phlebotomy training program.
The test itself is intimidating. Not only is it expensive, but it takes around three hours to complete. While some phlebotomy programs may include exam prep classes or study groups, others do not, so you’ll be on your own. Asking a lot of questions and interacting with other students in class or online will help you to learn more about the areas you’re struggling with, but once the program is over, you’ll need to look for other test preparation resources such as online study guides, practice tests, and phlebotomy forums.
How to Choose the Phlebotomy Certifying Agency
Each certifying organization will impose their own set of rules when it comes to testing. There are small differences between the requirements you must meet to qualify for certification, so you should definitely check out these requirements before applying to take the exam. Here are a few things to consider:
Because not every accreditation agency is the same so be sure to check if a particular organization is recognized by the state where you want to work and live. While most of these organizations are recognized nationwide, California currently only recognizes six of these organizations.
While it’s easy to sign up for the exam online you’ll need to take the test at a college, community college, or testing facility. In some cases, this can require a little travel.
The price of this exam is expensive, with a cost that can range from $150 to $300. Some organizations offer financial aid, which will pay for a portion of the testing fees. Keep in mind, should you fail the test, you’ll need to pay this fee each time you retake it.
What to Expect from the Phlebotomy Certification Exam
Each certification exam will be slightly different. Test length can range from one hundred up to three hundred questions and will cover all aspects of the field.
Some institutions will include a practical component as well. As an example, the American Certification Agency has both a practical component and written exam. The practical portion is sometimes offered at the same facility you received your training and will require you to perform a blood draw, label samples, and identify the layers of the epidermis. The written portion of the exam will take two to three hours to complete, while the practical portion will take approximately an hour.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology is one agency that provides a written exam but doesn’t include a practical component.
What Happens if you Fail the Exam?
If you don’t pass the test, the good news is, you’ll be able to retake it, although, as we mentioned, you’ll have to pay a second fee. The key to passing the exam the second time around will involve focusing on the areas you struggled with the first time.
This exam will cover a wide variety of topics such as:
- Tube order of draw
- Following the proper safety protocols when handling hazardous materials
- Correct equipment used during a venipuncture
- Sample collection practices
- Phlebotomy ethics
- How to handle and store samples
- Different components of blood
The questions in the exam are based on procedures and standards that were developed by the Laboratory and Clinical Standards Institute. These questions refer to common phlebotomy procedures such as skin puncture and venipuncture. You can visit their website for study resources. The site offers plenty of study resource material including a list of suggested reading material and other types of preparation materials.
How to Study for the Phlebotomy Exam
There are plenty of resources you can turn to for help in preparation of the exam. You can find a wide variety of online study guides and practice exams that will cover much of the same material found in the certification exam.
The Phlebotomy National study guide can also be found online and it provides some basic testing material that will detail everything from the procedures to regulations that will be covered in the exam. You can easily convert these questions into flashcards.
Taking practice tests will give you a good idea of what areas you need to focus on in order to pass, but try not to solely focus on those areas. The exam itself is pretty board.
Practice tests and study guides will go a long way toward helping you to prepare.
Studying Tips for the Phlebotomy Exam
Because the exam is so broad, we recommend reviewing all of the course material at least once a week.
If you take an online exam and fail, try to stay positive. Set your mind on success. If you’re studying hard, you have every reason to believe you will eventually learn this material.
While it may sound boring, developing a study routine can help you to perform better and can improve concentration. Set up a time and place for studying and stick to your plan. After an hour of studying you can reward yourself with your favorite meal, an hour break just relaxing around the home, or head out for some strong coffee.
Get plenty of sleep. When you’re tired, the brain has trouble focusing and processing new information. Shoot for at least seven hours of sleep a night.
Never give up. Even if you fail the first time, don’t throw in the towel. You may need to change up your preparation strategies and figure out a method of studying that helps you to retain information, such as using flashcards, taking online practice tests daily, or forming your own study group.
Join forums and talk phlebotomy with the pros. You can discuss all aspects of phlebotomy, but more importantly, you can discuss the phlebotomy test and the type of studying techniques others used that were effective.