7 Things You Need to Know about the ARRT® CT Certification Exam
As Computed Tomography has grown into one of the highest requested diagnostic imaging modalities within healthcare, so have the requirements for becoming a CT Tech! Now, before you can “officially” call yourself a CT Tech, you must first take and pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist’s (ARRT®) Computed Tomography Certification Exam. Below you will find the 7 things you need to know about the ARRT® CT Certification Exam.
Not just anyone can sign up to take the CT Certification Exam.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Earn an ARRT® blue credential in radiography, nuclear medicine, or radiation therapy.
- Submit 16 hours of structured education.
- Submit documentation of 125 procedures to validate your clinical experience.
- Undergo an ethics review, if necessary.
After these steps are completed, your supervisor or program director will be contacted to verify your clinical experience. Once this is confirmed, you’ll be free to schedule your CT certification exam.
The ethics review (Step 4) is necessary when you have been charged with certain forms of misconduct, such as drug or alcohol convictions or prior issues with other professional licenses. The ethics reviews can drag on for a while, so own up to the issues and get the review started as soon as possible. Hiding an issue is the worst possible approach. Once you are found out (and you will), you might be banned from radiography F O R E V E R… Maybe not forever, but a sanction would definitely be expected.
ARRT® does not require CT candidates to complete a college-based program, but you do have to complete some form of “structured education.” This can include approved college course or approved continuing education, like cttechbootcamp.com (shameless plug!). This structured education must include approved courses covering the four content categories on the CT exam: Patient Care, Safety, Image Production, and Procedures. Candidates must complete at least 1 credit hour from each category and 16 credit hours total.
Structured education is reported through your personal ARRT® account. These credit hours must be completed within 24 months of the date you apply for certification in CT.
Before applying to take the CT certification exam, you must document that you can actually run a CT scanner and perform CT scans independently. For many prospective CT technologists, this is the hardest part… finding a site that will let you train and document your clinical experience can be quite hard if you are not already employed at the hospital or care facility.
ARRT® requires that you document competencies on 125 total CT procedures. ARRT® defines what procedures can be counted towards your clinical experience and how many times specific procedures can be counted towards the total number of required “scans.” Those details are provided in the ARRT® CT document about clinical experience. Unfortunately, documenting 125 head CT scans without contrast will not suffice!
You may be surprised to know that the person verifying each of these procedures does NOT have to be a registered CT technologist. The verifier must be a registered radiographer or interpreting physician. Crazy, I know, but this makes sense in some situations where registered CT technologists may not be available.
CT Certification Exam Content
The exam content DOES change sometimes, which is why I highly discourage using your friend’s review book from 1997. Some CT review resources are up-to-date with the current exam content (like cttechbootcamp.com), and others say they are up-to-date but actually are not. Choose wisely!
There are 165 graded questions based on these general categories:
- Patient Care (22 questions)
- Safety (20 questions)
- Image Production (55 questions)
- Imaging Procedures (68 questions)
Keep in mind… these questions are NOT organized in the exam by topic. They’re all mixed together randomly. It’s also good to know the exam includes 20 pilot questions. These questions are mixed in with the other questions, but they are not counted towards your score.
Certification Exam Format
The CT Certification exam is (hopefully) similar to the exams you take through cttechbootcamp.com or other review resources. The majority of the exam is in multiple-choice format. There will be 3 to 5 answer options and you must select the most correct answer option.
A few questions may require you to select multiple answers, but the question will tell you when to do so. Some questions may have you sort items into the correct order (like blood flow through the heart), and some questions might require you to click on anatomical structure in an image (like identifying the greater trochanter on an image of the hip). The ARRT® has also started using short video clips as a part of multiple-choice questions.
The CT Certification exam does NOT use these question formats:
- Short Answer
The CT Certificate exam has a time limit of 3.5 hours, so you’ll need to pace yourself. Since there are 185 total questions, you have slightly more than 1 minute per question. Save time by marking questions you don’t know and moving on with the exam. Like I always tell students, make sure and get the easy stuff right!
Passing the CT Certificate Exam
Failing is okay (sort of). You get three years and three attempts to pass the CT Registry Exam. Once those three attempts have been used or three years is up, you must requalify for the exam by starting over on your clinical experience.
A passing score on the CT registry exam in radiography is 75. Not 75%, but a scaled score of 75. Here’s what the ARRT® says about scaled scores and how that correlates to a percentage:
“Using a scaled score ensures that those taking different forms are not penalized for taking a slightly more difficult form of the exam. The use of scaled scores adjusts for differences in exam difficulty such that a given scaled score corresponds to the same level of competence regardless of the exam form. For radiography forms used in 2017, a scaled score of 75 corresponded to about 68% correct.”\
Fortunately, most people pass the exam on the first attempt.
First-time CT examination pass rates from recent years:
- 2016: 75.9%
- 2017: 78.6%
- 2018: 75.4%
Passing the Computed Tomography Registry Exam does not necessarily mean you are automatically licensed to practiced computed tomography in your home state. Specific state requirements can be accessed here.
In general, state licensure follow one of these models:
- Some states still don’t require any form of licensure or certification (that’s stupid)
- Some states only require ARRT® certification
- Some states require ARRT® certification AND state licensure
- Some states require ARRT® certification and a state-specific certification exam