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Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) Review & Study Guide

Essential Test Prep Tips to Help You Pass the CCMA Exam the First Time

Young healthcare professional assisting a patient

There are several Medical Assisting certifications available to those who wish to advance their careers.

To help current and aspiring Medical Assistants achieve their goals, we compiled a series of test-prep tips and study guides for the various exams we covered in our recent article about the best medical assistant certifications for your MA career.

This study guide will focus on the CCMA, which stands for Certified Clinical Medical Assistant.

The CCMA exam is administered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), an organization that has awarded more than 750,000 certifications to healthcare students and professionals. The NHA offers nationally recognized measurements of competency, paired with easy-to-use study tools and personalized customer service.

If you are considering CCMA certification, we created this guide to offer you a roadmap to success while preparing for the exam.

How to Pass the CCMA (NHA) Certification Exam

Our comprehensive CCMA study plan will cover the following questions and topics:

  1. What is the CCMA exam?
  2. How do you pass the CCMA?
  3. What is on the CCMA exam?
  4. Is the CCMA exam hard to pass?
  5. The CCMA exam requirements.
  6. CCMA exam sample questions.
  7. General tips and test strategies for passing the CCMA
  8. Information on CCMA test results.

But first, let’s begin with a brief refresher…

What Is the CCMA Exam?

The CCMA exam is a Medical Assisting certification developed by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) to qualify health practitioners to become Certified Clinical Medical Assistants.

Whether you want to work in a doctor’s office or a large hospital, becoming a Clinical Medical Assistant is a great way to advance your careers within the healthcare system.

How to Apply for the CCMA Exam

Applicants who meet one of the NHA’s eligibility requirements must complete the following steps to apply for the CCMA Exam:

Step 1:

Set up your NHA account.

Step 2:

Apply for your exam and pay registration fees (if applicable).

Step 3:

Prepare for your exam.

You can learn more about each of these steps here.

CCMA Requirements

What Are the Requirements to Take the CCMA Exam?

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Applicants must meet these CCMA requirements from the NHA:

  • Successfully complete a Medical Assistant training program within the last five years.
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED/high school equivalent.

What Is on the CCMA Exam?

Certification doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. The NHA offers a free, detailed test plan to help you study. They also provide additional study materials, but those may require a fee.

Here are the various subjects and sub-topics that are covered by the CCMA exam:

  1. Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science
    • A. Healthcare systems and settings
    • B. Medical terminology
    • C. Basic pharmacology
    • D. Nutrition
    • E. Psychology
  1. Anatomy and Physiology
    • A. Body structures and organ systems
    • B. Pathophysiology and disease processes
    • C. Microbiology
  1. Clinical Patient Care
    • A. General Patient Care
    • B. Infection Control
    • C. Testing and Laboratory Procedures
    • D. Phlebotomy
    • E. EKG and Cardiovascular Testing
  1. Patient Care Coordination and Education
  1. Administrative Assisting
  1. Communication and Customer Service
  1. Medical Law and Ethics

CCMA Core Knowledge and Skills

In addition to your Medical Assisting knowledge and expertise, the CCMA is designed to assess your aptitude across a broad range of skill sets.

Here is a detailed breakout of the core knowledge and skills upon which you’re measured, when taking the CCMA exam.

CCMA Core Knowledge

  • Organizations and guidelines related to the medical profession, for example, CMS, CDC, OSHA, FDA, JC, National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), CLIA, COLA
  • Laws, for example, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Patients’ Bill of Rights, Good Samaritan laws
  • Scope of practice
  • Standards of care
  • Aseptic and sterile techniques
  • Communication methods and techniques
  • Patient education methods, adult learning styles, and instructional techniques
  • Collaborative relationships with providers
  • Electronic health records and electronic medical records (EHR/EMR); paper health records
  • Medical coding systems (diagnostic, procedures, and billing) and charting systems, including ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS, and CPT
  • Patient portals and health system portals

CCMA Core Skills

  • Basic arithmetic
  • Measurements and conversions
  • Basic writing (grammar, spelling, punctuation)
  • Basic word processing and keyboarding
  • Basic computer literacy (for example, file directory structures, networks, information security, internet)
  • Using computers and general software programs (for example, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Using basic office equipment (for example, copier, scanner, fax, tablets, cameras)
  • Responsible behavior in social media
  • Professionalism (for example, appropriate dress, personal telephone/text usage, punctuality, respect for boundaries, motivation, work ethic, integrity, accountability, flexibility, open-mindedness)
  • Interpersonal skills (for example, establish rapport and display empathy)
  • Organization, time management, multi-tasking, and prioritization
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking and problem solving

How to Prepare for the CCMA Exam?

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To help you prepare for the CCMA exam, let’s begin by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the exam itself.

Where can you take the CCMA exam?

Testing will take place at your school or at a PSI Testing Center near you. You will need to present valid identification and complete the test in one session.

How much time do you have to complete the CCMA exam?

You’ll have up to three hours to complete the CCMA exam.

How many questions are on the CCMA exam?

The CCMA exam consists of 150 scored questions and 30 pretest questions.

What is the passing score for the CCMA exam?

A cut score was established by a panel of subject matter experts who evaluated whether a minimally qualified candidate would correctly respond to each item on the examination. This raw cut score was transformed to a scaled score of 390/500.

The pass rate for the initial sample of candidates (693) at this cut score was 62.9%.

How much does it cost to take the CCMA exam?

The CCMA exam costs about $155. You can learn more on the NHA website.

When do you receive your CCMA exam results?

The NHA will officially post your certificate results to your account page within two days of scoring your test.

If you take the written exam, results will be posted within two weeks on your personal account page.

How long is your CCMA application good for?

Once you have passed the CCMA exam, your certification will be active for two years.

Why should I pick the NHA?

Let’s count the ways! Here are just a few benefits from the NHA:

  • NHA certification exams are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and updated regularly, ensuring that students have the most job-relevant knowledge and skills.
  • Along with exams, NHA offers bundled interactive prep and study materials. Nine out of 10 Allied Health educational programs have reported that NHA’s preparation resources helped improve exam preparedness and pass rates of their candidates.

CCMA Test Prep

CCMA Sample Quiz Questions

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To help you gauge some of the topics on the exam, we compiled a few sample questions for the CCMA.

(You can find the answers to these questions at the bottom of the article).

  1. The destruction of all microbial life, pathogen and non-pathogens, are destroyed by:

a) Medical asepsis

b) Handwashing

c) Standard precautions

d) Surgical asepsis

  1. The precaution used in an active TB case is Airborne Precaution and consists of using a:

a) N95 respirator

b) Gown, gloves, and face mask

c) Gloves and face mask

d) Standard PPEs

  1. When taking a patient’s blood pressure, the deflation rate is:

a) 1-2 mm Hg

b) 2-3 mm Hg

c) 0-1 mm Hg

d) 4-5 mm Hg

  1. The position used in exams where the patient lays on their back with legs extended is:

a) Horizontal recumbent position

b) Sims

c) Recumbent lithotomy

d) Prone

  1. This is an infection control method designed to prevent direct contact with blood or other body fluids is:

a) PPE

b) Contact precautions

c) Standard precautions

d) Handwashing

  1. The primary purpose is to provide reliable data about a patient’s health status by ensuring accuracy of a test while detecting and eliminating error is:

a) Quality control




  1. Tuberculosis in its active phase is what type of precaution?

a) Standard precaution

b) Contact precaution

c) Airborne precaution

d) Universal precaution

  1. This type of disinfection is the only type that kills all microbial life including spores is:

a) Disinfection

b) Autoclaving

c) Bleach 1:10

d) Sanitizing

  1. Persistent increased systolic and diastolic pressures are indicative of:

a) Hypotension

b) Hypertension

c) Normal

d) No correct answer

  1. A respiratory rate greater than 24 per minute is called_______

a) Apnea

b) Hypoventilation

c) Tachypnea

d) Bradypnea

Retaking the CCMA (NHA) Certification Exam

If you didn’t pass your exam, try not to feel discouraged—those who don’t pass their first or second attempt can re-apply after 30 days.

Since you need to pay for every exam attempt, you should use that time to prepare yourself for success.

How many times can you fail the CCMA Exam?

If you fail your third attempt, you must wait 12 months to take the exam again. So, take your time and ensure you have prepared yourself. When test day arrives, you can relax knowing you’ve given it your all!

Learn more about this process here.

CCMA Test Strategies

Here are a few tips from the NHA to help you while retaking the exam. Remember to take deep breaths—you’re going to do great!

  • Review your detailed score report: You can find your report by logging into your account and clicking “Results” on the left menu. Then click the button that reads “View Detailed Score Report.”
  • Ask for help: Ask a teacher for some extra help. Be honest — if you don’t understand something, tell them! They are on your team and want you to succeed.
  • Find a study buddy: Two heads are better than one. Partner up with a fellow student for study sessions—you can pool your knowledge and help one another achieve success.
  • See if NHA’s study materials are right for you: Test plans for all NHA exams are freely available and are the blueprint for developing the exams, study guides, and practice assessments. NHA study materials* aren’t required to sit for an exam, but they can be helpful!
  • Try to lower stress about the test: Study a little every day and use all the resources you have access to. Get a good night’s rest. Show up early to the test location so you can take some deep breaths.

CCMA Recertification

The NHA has outlined the following steps for CCMA renewal. You must renew your certification on or before your expiration date; there is no penalty for renewing early.

  1. Log in to your account.
  2. Select “Renew Certifications” on the left menu.
  3. Select “Complete More CE” to view the library.
  4. Complete 10 continuing education credits.
  5. Pay your recertification fee. Renewing your certification costs $169 every two years, which is about $7 a month.

Take the Next Step in Your Medical Assisting Career

Smiling woman on the phone

Our goal for this article was to provide you with practical tips on how to pass the CCMA Certification Exam. We hope it gives you the knowledge and confidence to take the next step forward in your career.

Many enjoy lifelong careers as MAs, while others build on their experience and branch into varying fields. Some even apply to nursing school, which can lead to greater opportunities.

Seize the day and aim for a brighter future!



Answers: 1)D  2)A  3)B  4)A  5)C  6)A  7)C  8)B  9)B  10)C