The Central Processing Technician (CPT) certification is a nationally recognized credential that signifies excellence in the field of sterile processing. Individuals wishing to earn their CPT must pass a written exam, which can be daunting. However, with proper preparation, passing the exam is definitely within reach. Here are five tips to help you succeed. 

Understand the Exam Format and Content 

The CPT exam is comprised of 150 multiple-choice questions that cover a wide range of topics related to sterile processing. It is important that you have a good understanding of the material before you attempt to take the exam. Reviewing practice questions and taking practice exams are great ways to familiarize yourself with the content and format of the test. 

The CPT exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions divided into seven domains. The domains are as follows:  

– Domain 1: Sterilization Techniques and Procedures (30%)  

– Domain 2: Decontamination Techniques and Procedures (20%)  

– Domain 3: Instrumentation Assembly and Packaging (15%)  

– Domain 4: Terminal sterilization Verification (10%)  

– Domain 5: General Infection Control Principles (10%)  

– Domain 6: Quality Assurance, Performance Improvement, and Regulatory Requirements (10%)  

– Domain 7: Safety and Environmental Management (5%)  

You can find more information about the specific content in each domain on AHIMA’s website.  

Familiarizing yourself with the format of the exam will help you know what to expect on test day and ensure that you are adequately prepared.  

 In addition, many schools offering sterile processing programs also offer review courses for the CPT exam. These courses can be extremely helpful in getting you ready for test day. 

Don’t Forget the Basics 

The CPT exam will likely include several questions on basic sterile processing concepts such as decontamination, sterilization, and infection control. Be sure to brush up on these basics before taking the test. In addition, you should have a good understanding of medical terminology, as many of the questions will use technical language. If you need help with medical terminology, many resources are available online and in libraries.  

 Create a Study Plan and Stick to It  

One of the biggest mistakes students make when preparing for exams is waiting until the last minute to study. This often leads to feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. To avoid this situation, it is important to create a study plan and stick to it. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to review all of the material—a minimum of two months is ideal. And try to study little bits each day rather than cramming everything in at once. You will retain information better and feel less overwhelmed if you space out your studying over time.  

Take Practice Exams  

Many websites offer CPT practice exams, or you can ask your program coordinator if they have any sample exams you can use. In addition to reviewing course material and practicing answering questions on your own, taking full-length practice exams under timed conditions is also beneficial. This will help you get used to answering questions under pressure and give you an idea of what to expect on test day.  


 Making Time for Relaxation  

Finally, remember to make time for relaxation in your study schedule! Taking breaks is important, so you don’t get burnt out from studying too much. Taking some time each day—even if it’s just 15 or 20 minutes—to do something you enjoy outside of studying will help refresh your mind and body and allow you to return to your studies feeling refreshed and motivated.  

Understand How Your Score is Calculated   

It’s important to understand how your score is calculated so that you know what constitutes a passing score. The CPT exam is scored on a scale from 200-800 points; however, only scores of 600 or higher are considered passing. Each question on the exam is worth one point; there is no penalty for incorrect answers, so be sure to answer every question! You will receive your score report immediately after completing the exam, which will list your score for each domain as well as your overall score. If you don’t pass, don’t fret! You can retake the exam after 30 days. Keep in mind, however, that you will need to pay the registration fee again.    

Passing the Central Processing Technician Exam might seem daunting, but it is achievable with proper preparation. Be sure to understand the exam format and content, review fundamental concepts, create a study plan, take practice exams, and make time for relaxation in your schedule. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to passing the exam and earning your CPT certification!