FAQs on CMA (AAMA) Certification

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about the CMA (AAMA) Certification/Recertification Examination.

For more details, review the Candidate Application and Handbook.

To qualify for the exam, you must be in one of three enrollment categories:

Category 1: Completing students and recent graduates of CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assisting programs

  • Completing students may take the exam no more than 30 days prior to completing their formal education, including a practicum.
  • Recent graduates are those who apply for the exam within 12 months of graduation.

Category 2: Nonrecent graduates of a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assisting program

Nonrecent graduates are those who apply for the exam more than 12 months after graduation.

Category 3: CMA (AAMA) recertificant

You must have previously passed the exam and been awarded the CMA (AAMA) credential.

Here are the main reasons you would not be eligible:

  1. You have not met the eligibility requirements.
  2. You have not passed the exam within 60 months of graduating for those graduating on or after Jan. 1, 2010. (See eligibility requirements for details.)
  3. You have been found guilty of a felony, or pleaded guilty to a felony.
  4. You have had a professional license, registration, or certification denied, revoked, suspended, or subjected to probationary conditions by a regulatory authority or certification board.

Generally, individuals who 1) have been found guilty of a felony, or pleaded guilty to a felony, or 2) had a professional license, registration, or certification denied, revoked, suspended, or subjected to probationary conditions by a regulatory authority or certification board are not eligible for the CMA (AAMA) Exam. However, the Certifying Board may grant a waiver based upon mitigating circumstances. If you wish to request that the Certifying Board permit you to take the test, you must submit a Request for Waiver form and written evidence that demonstrates your felony conviction or plea or professional misconduct should not prevent you from taking the CMA (AAMA) Exam.

See the CMA (AAMA) Disciplinary Standards for details.

The exam may be taken throughout the year at a Prometric testing center (open eight to 10 hours per day, five to six days a week) of your choice. Each candidate is allowed a 90-day period in which to take the exam. Your 90-day testing period will be assigned based on the testing period start date you indicate on your application.

The start date should be the earliest possible date that you wish to sit for the exam. Applications are due at least 90 days in advance of the first of the month in which your testing period start date begins. Refer to the following chart for assistance in determining when you should mail your application.

Preferred testing
period start date
in the month of

Application is due on

Mail application by

January

October 1 of prior year

September 20 of prior year

February

November 1 of prior year

October 20 of prior year

March

December 1 of prior year

November 20 of prior year

April

January 1 of same year

December 20 of prior year

May

February 1 of same year

January 20 of same year

June

March 1 of same year

February 20 of same year

July

April 1 of same year

March 20 of same year

August

May 1 of same year

April 20 of same year

September

June 1 of same year

May 20 of same year

October

July 1 of same year

June 20 of same year

November

August 1 of same year

July 20 of same year

December

September 1 of same year

August 20 of same year

If you are a member of the AAMA or a CAAHEP or ABHES completing student or recent graduate, your fee is $125. All others pay $250. If your credential has expired, you will pay an additional $50 reactivation fee.

All fees are nonrefundable and nontransferable.

Personal checks will not be accepted. Candidate fees must be paid by any of the following methods:

  • Money order
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Cashier's check
  • Certified check
  • Institution check

Applications submitted without proper fee payment will delay scheduling of your exam appointment or may be returned to you.

Membership in the AAMA gives you great benefits that will help you on your career path. Discover these benefits and join today.

The required documentation varies for each category:

Category 1: No documentation is required from you. Your program completion—including a practicum—must be verified by your program director in order for you to receive your official scores.

The AAMA Certifying Board reserves the right to request an official transcript from you at any time.

Category 2: You must furnish your official transcript.

The AAMA Certifying Board reserves the right to request a copy of your diploma, certificate, or degree at any time.

Category 3: You must provide your CMA (AAMA) certificate number.

Disabled persons who require special provisions on exam day must submit a Request for Special Accommodations form with the application, candidate fee, and the required written documentation.

While the Certifying Board will make every effort to fulfill special accommodation requests, it reserves the right to deny or postpone requests which are not submitted as specified above or which, in the judgment of the Certifying Board, would jeopardize the security of the exam material or the integrity of scores derived from the exam.

If you are a completing student or graduate, your program director will receive a form that must be completed to verify you fulfilled all formal coursework requirements, including a practicum, and that you did not take the CMA (AAMA) Exam more than 30 days prior to the date you fulfilled all program requirements.

If you are a nonrecent graduate you must submit an official transcript with your application.

Mail your application, candidate fee, and documentation (if necessary) in one envelope to:

AAMA Certification
7999 Eagle Way
Chicago, IL 60678-1079

Use the complete nine-digit ZIP code.

No. We cannot accept faxed applications.

You will receive an e-mail within 30 days of the date you mailed your application.

If you have met all application requirements, you will receive another e-mail with Scheduling Permit instructions no later than 20 days before your 90-day testing period begins. Upon receipt of this e-mail, follow these steps:

  • Open the link included in the Scheduling Permit Instructions e-mail to sign in at the NBME website and print out the Scheduling Permit.
  • Use the Scheduling Permit to make an exam appointment at a Prometric test center.
  • Bring the Scheduling Permit and a government issued photo ID with you to your appointment.

If your application is incomplete, you will receive an e-mail explaining the deficiencies, which may include the following:

  • Missing/incomplete e-mail or mailing address (you'll be notified by letter)
  • Nonpayment of fees, insufficient fees, or a declined credit/debit card
  • Missing CAAHEP or ABHES accreditation code
  • Missing official transcript (nonrecent graduates)
  • Missing felony waiver or special accommodations request form and documentation (if applicable)

If you do not receive a response within 30 days, check your junk/spam e-mail folder to see if it was diverted there. If you do not find it, please notify the Certification Department by calling 800/228-2262 or by e-mailing CMAExam@aama-ntl.org. Include the following information:

  1. Your name
  2. Your graduation date
  3. Your accreditation code (supplied by your program director) or your school name, school city, and school state

Consider these tips:

  • Make sure you have provided an e-mail address that will be valid for the next year (school addresses often are closed after graduation).
  • If you need to change your e-mail address, update your profile online or call the AAMA immediately at 800/228-2262.
  • Add CMAExam@aama-ntl.org to your approved e-mail list.
  • Check your spam or junk e-mail folder for e-mails from CMAExam@aama-ntl.org.

Once you access your permit, you may schedule an appointment online at a Prometric test center in your area. The sooner you schedule your appointment, the more likely you will receive your preferred time and location.

Note: You must bring your printed Scheduling Permit with you to your scheduled exam appointment or you will not be allowed to test. You will not be able to print out your Scheduling Permit at the Prometric test center.

The computerized exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering topic areas that are listed in the CMA (AAMA) Certification/Recertification Examination Content Outline.

Before the exam begins, there will be an optional tutorial that shows how to navigate through the exam. The maximum time allowed for the tutorial is 15 minutes. The time used for the tutorial is not counted as part of the exam time and will not affect your score.

Following the tutorial, the exam will be administered in four 40-minute segments. You will have an optional 20-minute total for breaks between segments. You will have 160 minutes to answer all the exam questions. The maximum time allowed for your exam appointment will be 195 minutes (i.e., three hours and 15 minutes).

Your score is based on the number of correct responses on the total examination. This score has been standardized and fixed on a scale that is based on a reference group, which comprises certification candidates who are graduates of CAAHEP accredited programs taking the examination under standard conditions for the first time.

The Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants establishes the minimum score required to pass the exam for each examination. A standard-setting exercise/study is conducted approximately every three years to establish the standard level of minimum competency an entry level medical assistant from a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited program must meet in order to pass the CMA (AAMA) Certification Examination on the first attempt. The participants in this study are randomly selected from CMAs (AAMA) across the country who represent the profession. This study results in a standard that is translated to a minimum passing score. The minimum passing score is currently 425. Thus, you will need to obtain a score of 425 or more to pass the examination. The AAMA Certifying Board may change this minimum required proficiency level as deemed appropriate.

An official pass/fail notification will be provided to you immediately upon your completion of the exam.

Candidates who have fulfilled all application requirements will receive an official report of the score achieved within 10 weeks after the exam date. You can also sign in to your account to check “My Certification Information” for updates on your exam status and your scores. (Scores will be posted to your account by the 20th day of the month following the month that you took your exam.)

Candidates who pass the exam and receive official notification of their scores will be awarded the CMA (AAMA) credential.

If you have not received an official exam score report within 12 weeks of the date you sat for the exam, contact the AAMA Certification Department.

If you pass the exam, you will receive your CMA (AAMA) certificate and wallet card approximately nine weeks after the score reports are mailed.

If your official result indicates that you did not pass, you may submit an application and the regular candidate fee at your earliest convenience.

Initial candidates for the CMA (AAMA) Exam are allowed three exam attempts.

Initial candidates for the CMA (AAMA) Exam who graduate on or after January 1, 2010 have 60 months from the date of graduation to sit for and pass the exam. If the candidate does not pass within the 60-month time frame, the candidate is no longer eligible for the CMA (AAMA) credential.

Yes. To better ensure continuing competency and knowledge and thus better protect patients, you are required to recertify your credential every 60 months.

Current status is required in order to use the CMA (AAMA) credential.

Effective January 1, 2010, all newly certified and recertifying CMAs (AAMA) will be current for 60 months from the end of the calendar month of initial certification or most recent recertification.

Yes. Certification status is a matter of public record and may be released. Your CMA (AAMA) Certification status can be verified on the Verify Employee CMA (AAMA) Status page.

The AAMA receives 100 or more requests per day to verify that current or potential medical assistant employees are CMAs (AAMA).

CMA (AAMA) lapel pins, replacement certificates, and wallet cards may be ordered by completing and mailing in the CMA (AAMA) Certificate and Lapel Pin Order form.

Yes. The CMA (AAMA) credential is a national certification recognized by employers across the country.

The following statistics on CMA (AAMA) certification are current through December 31, 2013:

15,924 Initial CMA (AAMA) certification candidates who tested and were eligible to receive scores

10,625 New CMAs (AAMA) who passed their initial exam and were eligible to receive scores (66.7 percent pass rate)

There are 74,825 CMAs (AAMA). Of these, 26,201 have recertified their CMA (AAMA) credential by continuing education or by exam at least once.