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Making the Grade—Advice for Passing the CBET Exam

Updated: Jan 30

Preparing for the certified biomedical equipment technician (CBET) exam can be challenging given the broad spectrum of subjects covered. Students usually choose one of two preparation methods—self-guided study or dedicated CBET preparation classes. While students can set their own pace and curriculum through self-study, there are a number of advantages to being part of a study group. As the instructor for a CBET preparation class provided through the Oregon Biomedical Association, I have seen these advantages pay dividends firsthand. Of the 19 students who completed the nine-week course, 17 passed the test on their first attempt, with an average score of 135 out of 165.


So, what do test takers need to know so they can pass the exam with ease? Here are a few things to keep in mind before and during the test.


Preparation

The most common pitfall that prevents individuals from being fully prepared for the test is inadequate focus. To concentrate sufficiently, a student should pick an exam date that provides adequate time for preparation. The course I teach ends just before the testing period, allowing students to carry their knowledge straight from the course into the exam. The course is driven and intensive, with weekly quizzes and practice tests to assess the student’s grasp of the various subjects. Preparation plans like this aid in building momentum and maintaining focus for the day of the test. Although it is a big commitment, having scheduled time to study for the exam proves very valuable. Spending three hours every Saturday for nine weeks enables students to take on a coveted exam with confidence and ease.


Time management is also crucial to successful preparation for the CBET exam. Time spent studying and taking the exam should be managed appropriately to match the weight of each section on the test. For example, the Healthcare Technology and Function and the Healthcare Technology Problem Solving sections make up nearly 50% of the test, about 80 of the 165 questions. Poor performance in these sections will most likely result in a retest in a few months. Any test taker should feel comfortable with the content of these sections due to the amount of weight they carry in the final score.


That is not to say the other sections are less important. For example, the Human Anatomy and Physiology section can offer important insight into the underlying conditions that land patients in the hospital and can provide context to the function of different devices. Additionally, basic understanding of networking concepts is now required for the CBET exam because equipment data will likely travel to a repository referred to as an electronic medical record.


At the center of all the material covered in the exam is patient safety because you are not only fixing broken equipment, you are making an impact on the environment of care. A biomedical technician’s territory extends well beyond the equipment.


During the Exam

Often, CBET test questions are multiple sentences in length, offering more information than is needed to figure out the right answer. To have the best chance of answering correctly, read the question a couple of times, breaking it into sections to avoid overlooking important facts. Multiple choice questions offer the tremendous advantage of process of elimination. Do not overthink it. Take a fresh start with every question, and don’t be impatient or rush.


Of course, there is always a least favorite section of the test. For the CBET exam, the Fundamentals of Electronics section is unpopular among test takers due to the amount of work it requires for a mere 16-17 questions (10%) of the exam. To make these questions less cumbersome, know the formulas by heart. Although a formula sheet is provided during the test, relying solely on it will create confusion and waste valuable time. Also, keep in mind that knowing the function of equipment can help you answer questions without much circuit analysis.


Another tip for test day is to create a cheat sheet on the provided scratch paper before the exam begins. While bringing anything into the testing room is prohibited, writing down resistor color codes, binary tables, truth tables for logic gates, etc., can alleviate the stress of having to remember that information during the exam. The actual test will not begin until you press “Start/Begin” on the screen, so use this time to your advantage.


Lastly, for test takers who may suffer from anxiety or feel that they forget things on the day of the exam, it is imperative to practice the subjects consistently. With repeated practice, the brain will become relaxed and accustomed to the testing environment. Last-minute memorization is not your best bet, so stop studying a day before the exam, if possible. Then go ace the test!



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