Can You Pass This EMT Certification Practice Exam?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Tammy Hanratty/Corbis/VCG/Corbis/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Have you ever wondered if you could pass the test that would-be EMTs take? It's called the NREMT, for National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, and it is taken, like most tests these days, on a computer. This allows it to be "cognitively adaptive" -  which means the test starts with the most difficult questions on each sub-topic, and if you answer those correctly, it moves on. If not, it tapers down to progressively easier questions. So if it's taking you what feels like a long time to take the exam, you might not be as prepared as you thought! But don't worry, as long as you demonstrate an adequate level of knowledge, you won't fail. 

There's a lot to cover. EMTs must have a good understanding of human anatomy, the systems of the body and common illnesses and injuries. But beyond that, they have to understand how to communicate with children, the elderly and those for whom English is a second language. They need to know how to instill trust in patients, how to deal with the drunk, drug users or those agitated by mental illness. And. no less important, they need to remember how to protect themselves in the field. There are many risks to the job, from back injuries incurred while lifting patients, to hostile dogs, to the canisters of highly combustible oxygen that are a part of an ambulance's equipment. 

Are you ready to put your knowledge to the test? Try our quiz now!

If a patient reports that she takes albuterol, you'll know she probably has what ailment?

Albuterol is a bronchodilator. That is, it opens up small airways in the lungs to let asthma patients breathe easier.


Which of these might you expect to find on a patient with a life-threatening allergy?

"Epi-pen" is capitalized because it's a brand name, but like "Band-Aid," it's become synonymous with "epinephrine auto-injector." Using it, patients can give themselves a potentially life-saving dose of epinephrine during an anaphylactic episode.


Which of these does NOT protect the EMT from infectious disease?

A back board is used for immobilizing and then transporting patients with potential spinal injuries. The other three items are all part of "body substance isolation," which keeps first responders clear of body fluids that might carry pathogens.


What is an "advance directive"?

People create these in order not to be subjected to drastic, invasive measures when there is little chance of their ever recovering enough to have a normal life. Have you created an advance directive? Your doctor's office can probably provide you with a template to do so.


Over the radio, you tell the ER that you are bringing in a 30-year-old female patient who is HIV positive and having difficulty breathing. Afterward, your supervisor calls you in for a talk. What did you do wrong?

HIV status is sensitive information and shouldn't be discussed over the radio. Wait until you're at the ER and dicreetly tell the doctor or nurse who takes charge of the patient.


What is "CNS" short for?

"Nervous" and "neurological" are closely related terms. Here, the less-formal term is used -- and it's commonly abbreviated to "CNS." You'll hear this term a lot.


What part of the body produces insulin?

Diabetes is probably the fastest-growing health threat in the developed world. It's good to understand what underlies it, although there's a difference between Type I and Type II, which we'll get into in another question.


A severe allergic reaction, based on excessive histamine release, is called what?

This is also called "anaphylactic shock." Swelling of the throat and airway passage can cause suffocation and death -- it needs immediate treatment.


What is "hypotension"?

"Hypotension" is the medical term for low blood pressure. Why is this bad? For one thing, it could indicate blood loss severe enough that the tissues of the body aren't getting enough oxygen and nutrients.


Asking questions about a patient's past health conditions and treatment is called what?

Medical practitioners of all types take patient histories. In the field, they are usually a bit briefer than ones a patient would do on a first visit to a new doctor.


What are "standing orders"?

"Standing orders" are rules everyone needs to know. For example, are you allowed to administer insulin to a diabetic patient, or only glucose? These things both aid in proper treatment and protect the ambulance service legally.


Which of these is a potential job hazard?

There are many risks out in the field. Part of EMT training is learning how to look out for yourself and your partner, including correct lifting techniques.


What is the name for non-life-threatening chest pain caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries?

Angina is a symptom of heart disease. However, it doesn't signal an immediate heart attack.


The "clavicle" is the common name for what?

"Clavicle" is the anatomical name for the collarbone. Kids break this a lot, because there's not much fat or muscle up there to protect it.


Where in the body would you find the aorta?

We hope that as an EMT, you won't have to actually see a patient's aorta. A major artery that carries blood away from the heart, it is meant to be protected by the breastbone and a lot of chest muscle.


Where would you find the femoral artery?

The femoral artery takes it name from the femur. That's the large bone in the upper leg.


An "abrasion" is what kind of cut?

Abrasions are wide, shallow cuts on the surface of the skin -- scrapes, to use the common term. They *are* painful ... nearly all cuts are!


Lack of oxygen in the blood and body tissues is a medical condition called what?

Hypoxia refers to the condition of the body -- you wouldn't use it to describe the environment the patient is in. When hypoxia is very severe, it is called "anoxia."


A wound that is narrow but deep is called ...

Things that cause puncture wounds include stabbings or accidental impalements. Depending on location, there is a possibility of damage to organs.


What is the main difference between Type I and Type II diabetes?

Type I diabetes is often genetic, and stems from a inherent failure of the pancreas to make sufficient insulin. Type II diabetes develops over time, usually due to excess weight and inactivity. This is what makes it such a fast-growing health issue.


If a patient is "diaphoretic," what are they?

Oh no! Sweat! Well, truthfully, this can be a bad sign. Sweating for no reason means that something is wrong in the system that controls body temperature -- aka thermic regulation.


If you are "ascultating," what are you doing?

"Ascultation" is a formal term for listening to a patient's breathing. You might be trying to hear wheezing or crackles. This can indicate a lot about their condition and potential injury or illness.


If you are dealing with "flow rate," what are you most likely doing?

Many ambulances carry oxygen tanks, and require an EMT or paramedic to set a flow rate at which the oxygen-enriched air is released. Some ambulance services only allow a paramedic, not an EMT, to perform this duty.


What is the minimum age at which you can become an EMT?

You can qualify for the job at the age of 18. Not surprisingly, this means that a college degree isn't necessary to land the job.


If you are using a "sphygmomanometer," what are you doing?

This gets our vote for the most unnecessarily complicated term in emergency medicine. Most people say "blood pressure cuff" (though the cuff is only part of the whole).


Who creates the standing orders?

Every ambulance service has a medical director, who is an MD. He or she draws up the protocols for treatment that paramedics and EMTs follow.


The blood from a patient's wound is bright red. What does this suggest to you?

When an artery is cut, the oxygen-rich blood is bright red. Not all artery wounds spurt -- that is, the spurting might be over by the time you arrive, because the patient has lost enough blood to cause blood pressure to drop. Either way, you need to stop the bleeding quickly.


What is a "contraindication"?

The informational sheet that comes with a medication will list its contraindications. A common one is that the patient is pregnant. We should note here that EMTs don't administer a patient's medication until they reach an advanced level, with more than 150 hours of training - so this won't come up for the EMT-B.


What is a "size up"?

"Size up" is a term used by most first responders, not just EMTs. It means quickly assessing what's going on at a scene, if it's safe to proceed and where to start.


A transient ischemic attack is a minor version of what event?

Often called a "TIA," this is a mini-stroke. It's important to be aware of the signs, because some patients might not know they've had one.


What color is "cyanotic" skin?

Cyanosis is a blue tint to the skin that occurs with lack of oxygen. It usually first appears around the lips. This is a sign that a patient, for whatever reason, is not getting enough oxygen and is in danger of various consequences.


Do "dose" and "dosage" mean the same thing?

This is one of those questions where the answer seems so obviously to be "yes" that you know it's got to be a trick question! And it is: "Dose" is the amount of a drug to be taken. "Dosage" is the schedule on which the doses are taken. Though EMTs don't often administer meds, they do talk to patients about what they're taking -- both "dose" and "dosage."


Which of these senses would you probably NOT use in a size up?

During a good size up, you won't just look around. You'll listen for the sounds of alarms, yelling, or unusual silence (which tends to be a bad sign, as most emergency scenes are noisy). And you might want to smell for smoke, too.


True or false: Colorblind persons can't be EMTs.

You have to have correct color vision to be an EMT. The ability to recognize colors is relevant to traffic lights when driving the ambulance, to triage tags, and more.


You see two red marks on a patient's arm which look like parentheses. What does this suggest to you?

The human mouth is shallower and wider than a dog's snout. This makes a human bite mark look a lot like red parentheses (or bloody ones, if the bite actually broke the skin. It could be a sign of domestic abuse or behavioral illness that needs to be followed up on.


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