Entrance Exams

NBSTSA (National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting) Exam

NBSTSA (National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting) Exam

For individuals pursuing certification and recognition in the surgical technology and surgical assisting fields, passing the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) Exam is an essential first step. The purpose of this extensive test, provided by the NBSTSA, is to evaluate candidates for certification as Certified Surgical Technologists (CST) or Certified Surgical First Assistants (CSFA) based on their knowledge, abilities, and competence.

The success and safety of surgical procedures are greatly dependent on the work of surgical technologists and surgical first assistants. The certification tests offered by the NBSTSA act as a professional standard, confirming the knowledge and ability of these healthcare providers.

Here is what you need to know about the NBSTSA (National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting) Exam:


Certification Levels

Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)

This certification is for surgical technologists, professionals who work closely with surgeons to ensure that the operating room runs effectively and that surgical operations are carried out in a secure manner

Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA)

This certification is for surgical first assistants, who have more advanced training and work directly alongside surgeons during operations, providing direct aid in the surgical suite.

Exam Content

Candidates’ knowledge and skills in subjects like anatomy and physiology, aseptic techniques, surgical procedures, patient care, and more are evaluated on the CST and CSFA tests. For the most recent information, it is imperative to refer to the official NBSTSA website or study materials as the content and format of the tests are subject to change over time.

Eligibility Requirements

Typically, candidates must complete an accredited surgical technology or surgical assisting program in order to be qualified to sit for the CST or CSFA tests. In addition, there can be prerequisites concerning education and clinical experience that they must fulfill. Comprehensive eligibility details are available on the NBSTSA website.

Exam Administration

Exams for the NBSTSA are normally computer-based and given at Pearson VUE testing locations around the country. In addition to choosing a testing location and date, candidates must register for the exam and pay a fee.

Preparation and Study Resources

It is highly recommended that students study well in order to ace the CST or CSFA exams. This may entail reading study guides and reference books, taking practice tests, and enrolling in refresher courses. A range of study tools and resources are available on the official NBSTSA website to help candidates get ready.

Passing Score and Certification

The CST examination content is based on tasks performed by CSTs nationwide. Job analysis surveys are conducted to identify specific tasks related to the frequency and importance of Surgical Technologists nationwide. The results of the job analysis are used to develop the content outline for the examination, which is evaluated on a prescribed schedule to ensure that the overall examination content reflects current surgical technology practices.

The CST examination consists of 175 questions, 150 of which are scored. The 25 pretest items (unscored) are randomly distributed throughout the examination for the purpose of analysis and statistical evaluation.

The passing score is the minimum number of questions that must be answered correctly. The current passing score on the CST examination is 102 of the 150 scored questions. Score reports are provided to all candidates who take the examination.

Continuing Education and Recertification

Surgical technicians and surgical first assistants frequently need to do continuing education and recertify on a regular basis in order to keep their certifications after receiving them. This makes it possible for trained professionals to remain up to date on the most recent advancements and industry best practices.

Exam Registration

Make sure you meet the prerequisites before submitting an application, which can be done online or by mail, in order to register for the CST exam. The examination fee, which is $290 for non-AST members and $190 for AST members, must also be sent.

An authorization to test (ATT) will be sent to you once your application has been accepted. The exam must then be scheduled prior to the expiration date, as specified in the ATT. You will have the option to take the test remotely using an online proctor or in person at a testing facility during this period.

Exam Fee

The prices listed below are for first-time applicants only. NBSTSA does not refund processing fees for ineligible candidates.

  • $190 for AST members
  • $290 for non-members.

Exam Schedule

Exams are exclusively conducted by appointment. It is necessary that you submit an application, be found qualified, and schedule a time to take the test at a testing center in your area. There are no longer any set dates for examinations. Although every testing center has a different testing schedule, most of them are open twice a day, six days a week.

Latest News

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) recently named Gemma Fournier, a professor and coordinator of the surgical technology program at Niagara County Community College, as its president.

In the US, the organization that certifies surgical technologists is called the NBSTSA. All certification-related decisions are under the purview of this institution, including those about eligibility, maintenance, issuance, and renewal of the designation. 2018 saw Fournier’s initial appointment to the NBSTSA.

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