What Is the NHA CCMA Exam & How Do You Prepare Students for It?

The NHA CCMA exam is an industry certification developed by the National Healthcareer Association to measure a student’s knowledge and skills so they can become a certified clinical medical assistant.

When someone passes the exam, they earn a certification designating that they can work in a healthcare facility as a CCMA.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment opportunities for medical assistants will grow 23% through 2024. That means students are flocking towards this certification!

But how can you prepare them for success on the exam?

On this page, we’ll share how the exam is structured and how you can help your students succeed.

Let’s start with some background about the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) since they provide the CCMA exam!

How To Prep Your Students for the NHA CCMA Exam


What Is the National Healthcareer Association?


The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is a well-known provider of industry-recognized health science certifications.

NHA’s mission is “empowering people to access a better future.” This includes both improving the quality of patient care and providing better opportunities for people to become healthcare professionals.

The NHA accomplishes this mission by providing eight industry-recognized certifications:

  • Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)
  • Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Electronic Health Record Specialist (CEHRS)
  • EKG Technician (CET)
  • Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  • Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A)
  • Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)
  • Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

Overall, thousands of programs across the US use these certifications, and NHA has awarded more than 750,000 healthcare certifications since 1989.

Now that you know a bit about NHA, let’s dig into the details of the NHA’s clinical medical assistant certification!

How Is the NHA CCMA Exam Structured?


The NHA CCMA exam is made up of 150 questions (plus 30 pre-test questions that are used to gather data).

The questions fall into seven topic areas, which the NHA refers to as “domains:”

  1. Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science (10%)
  2. Anatomy and Physiology (8%)
  3. Clinical Patient Care (54%)
  4. Patient Care Coordination and Education (5%)
  5. Administrative Assisting (13%)
  6. Communication and Customer Service (5%)
  7. Medical Law and Ethics (5%)

Each domain has different subtopics that are categorized as either knowledge statements or task statements.

Knowledge statements refer to information and concepts that the student will need to know.

Task statements relate to physical duties that the student will need to know how to perform.

Domain 1 - Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science

The Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science domain includes 34 knowledge statements related to healthcare systems, medical terminology, basic pharmacology, and more.

The information in this domain is the bare minimum of what any clinical medical assistant will need to know for success as a healthcare professional.

Domain 2 - Anatomy and Physiology

The Anatomy and Physiology domain has 12 knowledge statements related to body structures, organ systems, pathophysiology, disease processes, and microbiology.

Similar to the previous domain, the knowledge of anatomy and physiology can make or break someone’s success on the CCMA exam.

Domain 3 - Clinical Patient Care

The Clinical Patient Care domain is broken into five subsections, each with a varying number of knowledge and task statements.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • General Patient Care (37 knowledge statements, 24 task statements)
  • Infection Control (14 knowledge statements, 6 task statements)
  • Testing and Laboratory Procedures (13 knowledge statements, 8 task statements)
  • Phlebotomy (22 knowledge statements, 13 task statements)
  • EKG and Cardiovascular Testing (10 knowledge statements, 6 task statements)

This is the largest portion of the exam as it includes most of the day-to-day tasks a clinical medical assistant completes.

Domain 4 - Patient Care Coordination and Education

The Patient Care Coordination and Education domain has 10 knowledge statements and 6 task statements related to how a medical assistant will interact with patients and their families in different scenarios.

These involve tasks such as participating in transition care for patients and team-based patient care.

Domain 5 - Administrative Assisting

The Administrative Assisting domain includes 24 knowledge statements and 16 task statements related to patient scheduling, documentation, working with medical records, and other administrative tasks.

Even though many healthcare practices have medical administrative assistants, it’s common for clinical medical assistants to work closely with them.

Domain 6 - Communication and Customer Service

The Communication and Customer Service domain is made up of 18 knowledge statements and 8 task statements.

This domain includes statements related to the different ways a clinical medical assistant will communicate both with patients and other healthcare workers.

Domain 7 - Medical Law and Ethics

The Medical Law and Ethics domain has 8 knowledge statements and 8 task statements related to laws and ethics in the healthcare setting.

These include topics such as advanced directives, the Hippocratic Oath, patient privacy, and more.

In addition to these seven domains, the NHA has a list of “Core Knowledge and Skills.” These are the items that the NHA states as “fundamental skills and necessary knowledge for a medical assistant.”

This “core” information may be used in the context of different questions on the exam, so it’s important to review them as well.

Overall, the NHA’s CCMA test plan includes all of the details on what your students will need to know to pass the exam!

On test day, students have three hours to complete the exam and can occur either at your school or a designated testing center.

In most cases, students take the exam via an online portal, but on occasion a paper-based test is given.

After testing is complete, the NHA posts the results on the students’ online accounts within two days.

So now that you know the ins-and-outs of the CCMA exam, there’s one question left.

How do you prepare your students for the test?

How Do You Prepare Students for the NHA CCMA Exam?


There are a variety of options out there for preparing students for certification exams, but it can be tough to decide the best one for you and your students.

Many instructors lean towards using test prep materials to prepare their students.

The study guides and practice exams from NHA are excellent tools to measure student knowledge, but they don’t actually help you teach the content.

That’s why we recommend a two-step approach when it comes to preparing your students for the CCMA exam.

First, you need to teach the foundational healthcare concepts and medical assistant skills in your day to day lessons. Once your students know the information, it’s time to break out the test prep materials to help them review for exam day.

The key to success is to seamlessly tie these two strategies together.

But how can you do that?

Some teachers spend their summer creating their curriculum from scratch to provide customized lessons, activities, and assessment for their courses.

While this is a great option to plan your class from day one up until test day, it takes a lot of time -- and who has that!

That’s why health science instructors have begun switching to a system they can use to teach their classes and prepare their students for the exam!

Prepare Your Students for Success on the NHA CCMA Exam with HealthCenter21


Health science instructors across the country use the HealthCenter21 digital curriculum system to teach key concepts and prepare their students for the NHA CCMA exam.

HealthCenter21 is built to empower you to help your students succeed in the classroom, on the exam, and in their future careers and clinical medical assistant.

This is made possible with thousands of ready-to-use instructional resources, classroom management tools, assessment options, student tracking features, and more.

Along with all of that, we’ve mapped the curriculum content to the NHA CCMA test plan so you can see exactly how HealthCenter21 will help you prepare your students!

Click below to download your NHA CCMA certification success guide!

Download the National Health Science Assessment Guide