Monday, September 12, 2011

The NREMT Exam

     The key to the NREMT is to take it soon after your EMT course is finished.  That way you won’t forget too much before you take the test.  I took it less than a week after I passed my practical exam.  While studying for practicals I also studied and went through this review book I bought.  I’ve put the picture below so you know which book I was studying from.  The book is filled with 300 questions and explanations.  It had a few odd and wrong answers especially if you take into account the new updated AHA standards for CPR, but otherwise it was a valuable resource.  I also went back to my textbook and review the more difficult sections: OB, head injuries, and environmental injuries (hypothermia, snake bites, deep sea diving injuries, etc.).  Also I reviewed my scales: Glasgow Coma, Apgar, and for good measure Revised Trauma Score.
     Waiting to get authorization to schedule my test was a bit of a pain.  I had to wait a few days after I passed my practicals for my state proctor to clear my class.  Once I was given authorization I got my letter which explained how to register.  I decided to do it online and was pleased with the ease of use.  I could see all the open days and see the times available.  I was initially was going to test for today, but the early weekdays were already booked, so I decided to test for the Friday of that week in the afternoon.
     One and my classmates coordinated so that we could test at the same time and carpool.  We managed to find the site pretty easily.  We each had to provide two forms of ID, a driver’s license and a passport, or social security card (or something equivalent).  Then I had to get my palm scanned so it could take a picture of my palm print.  I thought that was pretty weird.  I asked why they didn’t use fingerprints anymore, and he told me the palm had more points of identification.  Next I had my picture taken by webcam so you know it’s gotta be quality.  I stashed all my stuff, including my watch and cellphone, into a provided for locker. 
     Then I went to just outside the test center and had my palm scanned again, I guess to make sure I hadn’t changed my hands in the last two minutes.  It was actually amusing, because it was having trouble scanning my hand and when it did it turned me into a blonde girl with long hair.  Fortunately the testing proctor and I both noticed the obvious difference.  Finally I got to go into the testing area, where the walls were lined with computers with dividers in between.  I got to sit next to my friend, though I couldn’t see him at all from my seat.  The proctor logged into the computer and finally I got to start the test.
     A few instructions on how to work the computer test and I was off!  I think it gives you two hours to finish everything.  There are two tricks to the NREMT.  The first is that it is an adaptive computer test, so that means if you get a question wrong it will probably ask you a similar question.  There is no set number of questions.  You could finish in 50; you could finish in 130.  Also a notable difference is the fact that you cannot go back to a previous question.  When you hit ‘Next’ that’s the last time you’ll ever see that question again, so be sure you certain about your answer, as much as you can be.
     There are six categories they use and have questions about on the test: Airway & Breathing, Cardiology, Medical, Trauma, OB/Gyn/Peds, and Operations.   Other than knowing the categories there is no telling what questions you’re going to have.  I conferred with my classmate after the test and he had some really different questions than the ones I had.  He took in 125 questions and had a lot of questions about OB, Airway and Breathing, and even some on Orthopedics.  I took it in around 60 and had a lot of questions about Airway and Breathing, and an inordinate amount on Triage and Mass Casualty Incidents and not a single Orthopedic question.
     I was actually angry when I finished the exam.  I was on a roll and then all of a sudden I was cut off and the computer told me I was finished.  I had finished the test in less than a half hour.  It didn’t feel right.  I had been trying to keep track of the question number, but I stopped looking around 30, so I finished anywhere at 50-70 questions.
      After waiting an hour for my friend to finish I finally got to go home and wait…and wait…and wait.  Since I took my test on a Friday afternoon I had to wait until Monday morning to finally see if I passed or not.  You can find whether or not you passed under Application Status on the site.  I ended up passing, and so did my friend.  So it really doesn’t matter how matter questions you take the test in.  You can fail at 60 questions as easily as pass it and the same goes for 130 questions.  Plus sometimes they put in experimental questions which don’t get graded, but help the testers decided to put it on a future exam, like one that my friend had was weird.  “What is the tightest knot?”  Um…I don’t know.  Go ask a boy scout or a firefighter.  Just don’t be flustered by weird questions like that.  More likely than not it’s an experimental question.
      So next for me is to wait until NREMT approves my practicals then I have to go to the EMS State Office in this state to get reciprocity so I can have my dual certification.  After that I can finally apply to work at the place that taught me and go through their hurdles.  But it doesn’t matter, but I am an EMT and it’s worth it for the chance to change and save lives.

QBP: "Next to creating a life, the finest thing a man can do is save one." -Abraham Lincoln

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