If you are taking the NREMT exam, you’re probably a little freaked out by the comprehensiveness of the test and its reputation for not passing everyone on the first go around. It’s true—the exam is quite thorough, and only about 70 to 80 percent of test takers pass it the first time.
Rather than see this as a bad thing, you need to look at it from the perspective of the test administrators, the department you’re going to serve, and the patients you’ll be treating. You will be faced with life-and-death situations on some calls, and you will need to know your stuff inside and out, backwards and forwards, so you can keep a clear head and provide the best care possible on the scene.
- And please quickly note that if you’re serious about passing the NREMT exam, you can find online EMT and Paramedic practice tests that will try to help you pass the examination on your first attempt.
Would you want someone who couldn’t get at least 70 percent of their EMT course material right treating you?
Taking the NREMT doesn’t have to be as daunting a task as people make it out to be. Here’s a peek at four different popular study methods, so you can prepare for the exam in the way that best suits your personal needs and learning style.
NREMT Online Test Prep Site
If you’re planning to make a career out of emergency prehospital medical care, you’ll probably want to consider an online EMT prep site for your NREMT exam. Even if you’re going to be pulling one or two volunteer shifts each month, this may be the way to go to ensure you’re providing the best patient care possible and to prevent having to retake the exam multiple times. Many students fail the exam one or more times, often because their exam prep wasn’t sufficient for the rigors of the NREMT test.
There are a bunch of NREMT test prep sites, but not all of them are of equal quality. One site that’s very highly rated by all levels of care giver, from first responder to paramedic, is EMT National Training. This is a subscription-based site, where you can purchase a one-month or longer plan that includes a host of features to get you ready for the exam. Once you look at the price of a couple of NREMT books or a mobile app with in-app purchases, it makes sense to buy at least one month of a site like EMT National Training, since their subscription rates are quite reasonable, such as these rates for EMT-Basic:
- EMT 1 month $49.95
- EMT 3 month $69.95
- EMT 6 month $99.95
EMT National Training Benefits
EMT National Training works on both Mac and Windows systems, as well as on mobile devices like tablets and cell phones. Once you are logged in after purchasing a package, you can review material, like with study guide books, and you can create quizzes of 10 to 50 questions, based on the material you find the most challenging. You can also ask for random quizzes that cover any of the five test areas mentioned above.
Once you are ready to take a full-length simulation exam, EMT National Training provides those too. You can keep track of your exam scores over time to make sure you’re improving, and every correct answer comes with a rationale that explains why that answer is the right one. If you’re still confused about the material or have questions about the site’s functionality, their customer service staffed by EMS professionals and are available via email and telephone.
All of the 3,000 questions on the EMT National Training website are designed to duplicate those found on the actual NREMT exam, and they were developed by working EMTs and EMS instructors to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and AHA (American Heart Association) standards that are used for National Registry certification.
This is perhaps the most helpful part of the website because without this realistic approach to exam prep, you could be studying all the wrong things. When you get to the real test itself, you want to feel like it’s so familiar, it’s just another practice test. EMT National Training helps you get a feel for the type of questions you’ll encounter throughout the exam in the different categories.
Because the NREMT exam is a computer adaptive test performed online (not with paper and pencil), each question you get is based on your answer to the previous one. If you answer incorrectly, you’ll keep getting more questions on the same topic. With only 120 questions total on the EMT-B exam, for example, you can fail the exam by not getting enough questions correct.
The system asks for a 95 percent confidence interval when deciding whether or not a student knows enough on a topic to progress to other types of questions. You need a grade of at least 70 percent to pass, but quality study prep programs like EMT National Training are geared to help you ace the test, not just squeak by.
Everyone who takes the trouble to study EMS coursework wants to excel in the field, so doing well on the NREMT exam is a good first measure of competence. Find a study method that works for you, so you can pass the test on your first try and confidently put your skills to good use with those patients who need your help.
To get better prepared for the NREMT exam, you can sign up for EMT National Training’s EMT Practice Tests here.
Self-study from Written Materials
Some people elect to study for the NREMT exam from their own class materials, with maybe a test prep book thrown in for good measure. There are pros and cons to this method. This is a low-cost manner of studying for the exam, which makes it a plus for some students who don’t have the budget on top of tuition for a lot of extras. For students who take impeccable notes, never miss class, and have performed well on in-class tests, this may be an acceptable study method.
One challenge with this method, however, is that you need to be confident your EMS course is a top-notch one if you’re relying on your notes. If you are in a top EMS training program, and if you have some sort of previous medical background, this may be sufficient.
You will have to guess about the most likely NREMT exam questions and concoct your own EMT practice test, though. If you elect to use this method, try to create typical test questions based on your class exams. Remember to cover all five areas tested on the NREMT:
- EMS operations
- medical (including OB/GYN)
- respiratory emergencies (airway, ventilation, and oxygen delivery)
- cardiac emergencies (including resuscitation protocols)
If you buy a study book, you may want to purchase one in person rather than online, so you can page through it and see if the practice questions are actually helpful. Reviews of NREMT test books tend to vary quite widely by user.
You can take your self-study up a level by forming a study group with your EMS classmates or with other people from your fire/rescue department. There are numerous advantages to group study over solo prep. Your group members will likely come up with ideas and explanations you haven’t thought of or wouldn’t come up with on your own. A group provides some accountability as well.
Additionally, with a study group, you can quiz each other, so you’ll really find out if you know the answers to those tricky anatomy questions or not. You can also study for the practical, or psychomotor, portion of the exam together because you’ll have people to play patient, EMT, and test administrator.
To make sure you cover all the skills on the practical exam, download and print off the NREMT skill sheets from their official website. These are available for first responder, EMT, and advanced EMT levels.
The downside of a study group is that the bulk of your studying will be on other people’s schedules. Also, you need to be sure that everyone in your group is of an academic caliber that matches your your level, so one person doesn’t wind up carrying the others.
If you’re on the go a lot, don’t have access to a computer, or have just short periods in which to study, an NREMT phone app might be the thing for you. There are several highly rated apps available for both iOS and Android mobile devices, such as EMT Tutor by Code3Apps and Pocket Prep’s NREMT Exam Prep. NREMT apps in general range from free to about $9.99, but you may need to make further in-app purchases to get all the features you need.
These apps offer brief study guides, treatment algorithms, and practice exam questions, so you can review material and test yourself. EMT Tutor provides 1,000 sample questions, and NREMT Exam Prep has 800 practice questions.
Having your treatment algorithms, like resuscitation and immobilization, available in one place is handy even after you pass the exam. While you’re on duty waiting for calls, you can review protocols and keep things fresh in your mind. Other features users like about phone apps include:
- countdown calendars for exam day
- reminders to study
- detailed anatomy charts
- score tracking over time
- lists of mnemonics and acronyms (“SAMPLE history,” “OPQRST,” etc.)
Phone apps are a good supplement to class notes, and the ability to access practice questions is a big plus. They’re not highly personalized, however, and some EMTs find them a bit generic for their needs. Also, some apps have issues with content not being updated frequently enough and the apps themselves freezing during use. If you decide to use a mobile device app, make sure you find one that has five-star reviews and no complaints about the validity of the data or quiz answers.
For more on NREMT exam prep, be sure to bookmark Paramedic Training Spot.
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