Sonography is a vital and growing medical profession that makes use of ultrasound technology and equipment in diagnosing and treating medical problems. The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) is nationally recognized in the fields of sonography and vascular technology. The ARDMS offers certifications in four disciplines and 13 specialties. The ARDMS certification is widely sought by sonograpy specialists and is even required by some institutions as a requisite for employment. The certification tests are very difficult, with failure rates of 50 percent in some cases. Good planning and intense study are vital if one is to pass the test and receive ADRMS certification.
Preparation for Testing
Visit the ARDMS website (www.ardms.org) and study the ARDMS test methodology. Learn how the test is constructed (multiple-choice, taken on a PC, etc.). Look up how many questions there will be on your specialization and how many minutes you will have to answer those questions.
Begin your study and review of the material several weeks before the test. Set a specific study schedule, write it down and stick to it. Since the test material will cover the physical principles of the ultrasound equipment as well as clinical and sonography knowledge, review the equipment used in producing ultrasound images. Combine different study techniques to ensure your mastery of the material: texts, flash cards, simulated tests.
Consider purchasing the ARDMS Practice Examination for your specialty (www.ardms.org). This trial exam will familiarize you with the way the computer is used in the official certification exam and will give you an idea of the type questions that will be included on the official exam. These online practice tests cost $25 each.
Consider purchasing a study guide course that is focused on your specialty. There are many such courses that cover the specific material to be offered on the ARDMS tests. Some of the courses come with a money-back guarantee.
Taking the Test
Know exactly where and when the exam is to take place. Eat lightly before arriving, keeping liquid intake to a minimum. Arrive early for the exam. Be confident as you await the start of the exam--you have studied hard and you know the material. Approach the exam with a "Bring it on!" attitude.
To make sure you understand exactly what is being asked, read each question twice before attempting an answer. Try to answer the question before looking at the possible answers. Read all of the possible answers before recording your choice.
Be conscious of time passing. If there are 120 questions and you have 120 minutes for the test, you have about one minute per question. Check where you are in time segments of 20 minutes. If you are behind at the time checks, pick up the pace.
Answer the questions as you come to them. If you are unsure of an answer, make a check mark by it so you can come back to it later if you have time. Answer all of the questions--unanswered questions are counted as wrong. If you are unsure of the answer, eliminate the known wrong answers. (Instead of having to guess among five answers, you may have to guess among only two answers, thus improving your odds of a correct answer from 1 in 5 to 1 in 2. Remember that if there are five possible answers to a question, four of them are wrong.)
Record your best answer, and move on to the next question. Don't waste a lot of time second-guessing yourself. Your first answer is usually the best one.
Look away from the screen periodically, lean back and take four or five deep breaths to clear your mind, relieve cramped body posture and reassure yourself that you know the material and are doing well. Return to the screen with renewed concentration and confidence. (It only takes about a 75 percent grade to pass the test. You can possibly get 30 questions wrong out a total of 120 questions and still pass the exam).
- It is better to spread your study time over a longer period than to try to cram all of the material into the last few days before the test.
- Take your certification exam as soon as possible after you have completed your coursework. Waiting may allow your knowledge of the subject matter to wane and undermine your confidence.
- It is better to guess than to leave a question unanswered. If you leave the question unanswered, you have zero chance of being right. If you randomly pick one answer of the five choices, you have a 20 percent chance of being right.