Doing well in EMT class and preparing for the NR EMT Exam

Tips from Mark Wintle

I get a lot of questions from students who want help passing the EMT Exam. I think the best advice I can offer is to pay attention in class and do your own workbook. I'm amazed at how many people leave the workbook to the last minute and then copy the answers from someone else. The workbook is the best cheat sheet for passing the test (and being a knowledgeable EMT in the field). Go though the workbook and look up every question in the book. It's not hard, but it is time-consuming. When you're done with the workbook you will be so much better prepared to pass the test.

Here's are my other tips:

Links to sample tests (and other resources) on the web:

Gerenal multiple choice test-taking techiques help a lot. This is the same stuff that works for doing better at the SAT. Here's my list of tips for passing multiple choice exams.

  • Relaxation makes a big difference. Don't stay up all night cramming. Instead go to sleep at 10pm and get a full night sleep. That will help a lot. Have something light to eat (no greasy food) for breakfast. Cereal is good. Allow enough time to get to the exam, go to the bathroom and be seated 10 minutes before the start time. Breathe evenly and try to concentrate on the positive -- you've completed an EMT class! All that's left is this exam, which will be over soon.
  • For each question read it carefully and think about it before peeking at the answers. You have lots of time. Once you have an idea in your head, then look at the answers and see if any of them are close to what you thought. Often this will help you catch the fact that you misread something in the question!
  • The test people had to come up with three bad answers for every good answer. That's hard! So often one answer will be really stupidly wrong. Eliminate that one. Many times they will come up with one that's really close to right, except for one detail. Eliminate that one. Now you have a 50/50 chance on the remaining two!
  • Read all the choices before choosing your answer. Even if you think the first one is perfect, you may find the fourth one includes something you hadn't considered and is "more correct."
  • Answer questions in the order they come. If you spend a great deal of time skipping around, you are likely to mistakenly leave some questions unanswered. If you are stuck on a question, put a mark off to the side and come back to it when you have answered the rest of the questions.
  • Any time there's a double-negative be careful! Some questions say "which if the following are not correct?" So now you have to find the wrong answer and mark it down. This is very hard for our brain to do and it will easily make a mistake. Recheck these carefully.
  • Take an educated guess and select an answer even if you have no clue which one is right. Leaving a question blank guarantees you get that one wrong. I used this method on questions that involved activated charcoal and body weight, since I didn't realize that would be on the exam.
  • Hesitate a lot before changing your answer. Statistics show that your first choice is usually the right one, unless you mis-read the question.
  • In "All of the above" and "None of the above" choices, if you are certain one of the statements is true don't choose "None of the above" or one of the statements are false don't choose "All of the above".
  • That said, if there is an "All of the above" option and you know that at least two of the choices are correct then "All of the above" is a better choice
  • A positive choice is more likely to be true than a negative one.
  • A lot of the questions have to do with the order of steps to be taken. Unless you have memorized patient assessment these will kill you. "In real life" the order of things isn't always critical. On the exam it is.
  • Read all of the choices. Donít stop reading all of your options simply because you think youíve already found the correct choice. Many people are stressed by the idea of the "most correct answer." Yes, there may be two answers that are both right. But in the test creators' minds one is "more correct" than the other.

    Try to think of the exam from the perspective of someone writing an exam. If you're really serious about this, then you may even want to try writing your own exam. Notice how you have to think about how a question will illustrate a topic you're trying to convey (or test?) There's a "point" to every question they're asking and every choice they're offering. Try to guess what "point" they're getting at. Often this will make you understand why they've offered such a subtle distracter answer in the pool.

    Once you're finished the test, you'll want to know how you did. You can check at the NREMT web site.
    Did you pass? The page where you can check if you passed your national EMT exam.

    Yes, you can email me with questions, corrections, other links to sample exams and anything else you want to share. I can't guarantee a prompt, personal reply, but I do read and appreciate all my mail.

    Mark Wintle