NOCTI Health Assisting vs. NOCTI Medical Assisting: What’s the Difference? Blog Feature
Bri Stauffer

By: Bri Stauffer on April 25th, 2019

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NOCTI Health Assisting vs. NOCTI Medical Assisting: What’s the Difference?

Health Science | NOCTI

Choosing a health science assessment for your students to take can be a daunting task.

You want to provide the right assessment to ensure you are having them hone the right skills for their careers.

Many teachers are interested in using NOCTI as a test provider, but don’t know which test to choose!

To help you make the best choice for your program, we’ll discuss two popular options: NOCTI Health Assisting and NOCTI Medical Assisting.

In this post, we’ll dig into each test and how it applies to different career paths.

But before we get to those details, it’s important to understand what NOCTI is and how its assessments work!

What Is NOCTI?


The National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI), is a well-known provider of industry-based assessments for career and technical education (CTE) pathways.nocti-mission-statement

Overall, NOCTI’s mission is to “build a competent workforce through creative learning solutions.”

One of the ways NOCTI accomplishes this mission is by providing more than 120 industry-based credential assessments.

Overall, these assessments fall into five categories:

  1. Job Ready
  2. Pathway
  3. Employability Skills
  4. State Customized
  5. Certificate and Partner Programs

Because both the Health Assisting and Medical Assisting exams are Job Ready assessments, we’ll focus on these assessments going forward.

What Are NOCTI Job Ready Assessments?


NOCTI’s Job Ready assessments are designed to “measure the skills of those who complete a secondary or post-secondary technical program.”

All told, NOCTI has more than 80 Job Ready assessments across nearly all CTE pathways.

These assessments can be delivered either online or on paper, and many of them also include a hands-on skills demonstration portion.

Though all of these assessments have the same basic structure, each one is unique to the related occupation!

So with that said, let’s dig into the differences, starting with the NOCTI Health Assisting assessment.

What Is the NOCTI Health Assisting Assessment?


The NOCTI Health Assisting assessment is designed to measure a student’s knowledge and skills in health assisting or nurse assisting.

When developing the assessment, NOCTI worked with educational and industry representatives from multiple states.

In addition, they referred to the CIP code for Allied Health and Medical Assisting Services, Other (51.0899) and the Nursing Assistant career report from O*Net OnLine.

The NOCTI Health Assisting assessment has two portions — a written part and a performance part.

The written exam contains 163 questions across 6 healthcare areas.

The six areas are broken down as follows:

  • First Aid and General Safety (19%)
  • Medical Terminology (18%)
  • Body Systems (9%)
  • Observation and Communication (15%)
  • Documentation and Legal Issues of the Health Assisting Profession (10%)
  • Health Assistant Skills (29%)


Students have three hours to complete the written exam, and NOCTI notes that the exam may be administered in multiple sessions (up to three).

The performance assessment involves students demonstrating hands-on skills they will perform on the job as a health assistant.

For the assessment, students are measured on their ability to complete skills in four areas:

  • Hand Washing and Personal Protective Equipment (29%)
  • Change a Patient Gown (29%)
  • Measure Vital Signs, Height, and Weight (29%)
  • Transfer Patient from Bed to Wheelchair (13%)

Students have 65 minutes to complete the Health Assisting performance assessment, and they must complete all of the assessment tasks in one session.

For more specific information on the exam, NOCTI has an assessment blueprint that outlines the detailed standards students must meet for both portions of the Health Assisting assessment.

In addition, it’s important to note that the NOCTI Health Assisting assessment is the prerequisite for taking the American Medical Certification Association (ACMA) Nursing Assistant exam. So while the NOCTI assessment is important in its own ways, it’s also crucial for any student who wants to take the ACMA later.

That means someone who passes the NOCTI Health Assisting exam and the ACMA exam will have the appropriate credentials for a successful career as a certified nursing assistant!

Now that you’ve got a good grasp on the NOCTI Health Assisting assessment, let’s switch gears and talk about Medical Assisting!

What Is the NOCTI Medical Assisting Assessment?


The NOCTI Medical Assisting assessment measures a student’s competency in knowledge and skills needed for careers in medical assisting.

When developing the assessment, NOCTI worked with educational and industry representatives from across the country.

In addition, NOCTI referred to the CIP code for Allied Health and Medical Assisting Services, Other (51.0899) and the Medical Assistant career report from O*Net OnLine.

The NOCTI Medical Assisting assessment is similar to the Health Assisting one in that it has both a written portion and a skills demonstration portion.

The written exam is made of 197 questions across 7 areas of healthcare.

The seven areas are broken down in this way:

  • Medical Office Procedures (12%)
  • Foundations for Healthcare (10%)
  • General Laboratory Procedures and Diagnostic Testing (14%)
  • Clinical Practices and Patient Care (38%)
  • Medical Assisting Safety (8%)
  • Patient Instruction (9%)
  • Medical Law and Ethics for Healthcare (9%)

Students have three hours to complete the written exam, and like the Health Assisting exam this assessment could be administered in one, two, or three sessions.

The medical assisting performance assessment requires students to demonstrate six specific skills:

  • Positioning (9%)
  • Blood Pressure and Pulse Measurement (23%)
  • Electrocardiogram (18%)
  • Visual Acuity Screening (21%)
  • Lab Requisition Form (18%)
  • Applying and Removing Sterile Gloves (11%)

Because this assessment involves six skills demonstrations, students have 75 minutes to complete all tasks.

To learn all of the details of the written exam and performance assessment, check out NOCTI’s assessment blueprint.

Just like with the previous assessment, the Medical Assisting assessment is the prerequisite to the ACMA Clinical Medical Assistant Certification.

After passing the NOCTI Medical Assisting exam and the AMCA certification, your students will be primed for great careers as clinical medical assistants.

So, with all of this information about the two NOCTI assessments, there’s still one big question left.

Which one should you add to your program?

Which NOCTI Assessment Is Right for You and Your Students?


When looking at the details of the Health Assisting and Medical Assisting assessments, how can you decide which one to choose?

For most health science instructors, it breaks down to a few points for you to consider when deciding:

  1. What courses do you currently teach?
  2. What career goals do your students have?
  3. What are the needs in your local community?

Start by looking at your current courses to compare your standards and syllabus against each NOCTI assessment.

If one assessment fits better with what you’re currently teaching, that’s a good start!

But there’s more to picking the right assessment than teaching to the test.

That’s why we’ve given you three points to consider!

Think about the career goals of your students. They’ve chosen the health science career cluster for a reason, so if one of the assessments aligns better with their overall career goals, it’s another reason to choose one test over another.

But if you’re one of the many health science teachers building a brand new program, you might be thinking: I don’t have courses to compare and I haven’t met any students yet!

That’s where our last point of consideration comes in!

When you’re picking which NOCTI assessment to use in your classroom, learn more about the healthcare needs in your local community.

Is there a struggle to find nursing assistants to staff local nursing homes?

Does your local hospital need more medical assistants?

If you take the time to investigate this information, you’ll not only have answers to help build your program, but you’ll start a great network with local healthcare providers!

Most importantly, you’ll set your students up for the best chance of success in your area.

Where to Go from Here with Your Health Science Program

No matter which NOCTI assessment you choose, the biggest share of the work lies in prepping your students for success!

Health science teachers preparing students for industry assessments often purchase test prep material and study guides.

While that’s a key component to preparing your students, there’s so much more to it than that!

You also need to teach the foundational skills and knowledge your students will need for the assessment and their careers.

Some teachers build their curriculum from scratch, but that takes a lot of extra time -- something you probably don’t have!

That’s why health science instructors across the country have switched to using digital curriculum as their main instructional resource.

The HealthCenter21 digital curriculum system provides ready-to-use resources to teach foundational skills and concepts, along with classroom management tools and assessments to measure student outcomes.

Plus, the curriculum is mapped to the NOCTI assessments, so you’ll know exactly how to use it to prepare your students!

Want to learn more about how HealthCenter21 can help with your NOCTI test prep?

Pick your assessment below!

NOCTI Health Assisting Assessment Guide

NOCTI Medical Assisting Assessment Guide



About Bri Stauffer

Bri collaborates with others at AES to create content that answers your questions about teaching classes, preparing students for certifications, and making the most of the AES digital curriculum.

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