Are you a respiratory therapy student preparing to take the TMC Exam? Are you worried about doing what it takes to earn a passing score?
If so, you are definitely not alone!
The thought of taking a national board exam can be daunting, but with the right preparation strategies and mindset, you can feel confident and well-prepared on exam day. And that is exactly what you’ll learn how to do in this article.
Keep reading because I’m going to share valuable tips and techniques to help you earn a passing score on the TMC Exam. This includes understanding the exam rules and format, knowing what topics to focus on while studying, and how to stay motivated throughout the process.
With the right preparation strategies and resources, you can pass the TMC Exam with flying colors and move one step closer to becoming a registered respiratory therapist (RRT).
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About the TMC Exam
The TMC Exam, or the Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination, is the national certification exam for respiratory therapists in the United States. It’s administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), and it is required for individuals seeking to become licensed respiratory therapists.
The format of the TMC Exam is multiple-choice, with 160 questions that must be completed within three hours. The exam is offered several times a year at various testing centers across the country. Again, passing the TMC Exam is one of the requirements to practice as a licensed respiratory therapist.
According to the NBRC, there are two threshold scores for the TMC Exam:
- Low cut
- High cut
If you pass the exam with the low cut score, you will earn the CRT credential. If you pass with the high cut score, you will earn the CRT credential and become eligible to take the Clinical Sims Exam (CSE). If you pass the CSE, you will be awarded the RRT credential.
However, if your exam score is below the minimum low cut score, it means that you failed and must reapply and retake the exam.
Note: If that’s you, don’t worry. You are definitely not alone, as the TMC Exam is quite challenging. Keep your head up and try not to get discouraged because I’m going to share some strategies that can help.
Tips for Passing the TMC Exam
Here are some tips to help you prepare for and pass the TMC Exam:
- Take Practice Exams
- Practice with TMC Exam Questions
- Know the Exam Rules
- Be Aware of the Time Limit
- Select an Answer for Each Question
- Use Your Scratch Paper Wisely
- Read Each Question Carefully
- Focus on the Most Important Topics
- Find Ways to Manage Stress
- Avoid Cramming
- Prepare Your Body and Mind
- Believe in Yourself
- Don’t go at it Alone
Next, we’ll explore each of these tips in more detail, providing you with proven strategies to pass the TMC Exam on your first (or next) attempt.
1. Take Practice Exams
One of the most effective ways to prepare for the TMC Exam is by taking practice exams that simulate the actual TMC Exam. This will help you become familiar with the format and types of questions you’ll encounter on the actual exam.
We have a free TMC practice exam that I highly recommend for all students. The NBRC also provides a free online practice exam that you should take.
These practice exams can help you identify areas of weakness in your knowledge and adjust your study habits accordingly. Furthermore, taking practice exams can also increase your test-taking speed and help you identify time-wasting habits.
Please don’t underestimate the value of taking practice exams, and make sure to include them as a key component of your study plan for the TMC Exam.
2. Practice with TMC Exam Questions
I just mentioned the importance of utilizing practice exams, but studying with practice questions is also a crucial step in preparing for the TMC Exam.
Going through practice questions is a strategy that helps you understand the material and apply the concepts you’ve learned in a simulated exam setting. This helps your brain master and retain the essential information required for passing the exams.
To make the most of your study time, I highly recommend that you include practice questions as part of your study routine. Make sure to review the explanations and rationales to gain a deeper understanding of the material.
We have a huge library of practice questions inside our TMC Test Bank that have helped thousands of students earn passing scores. It also comes with multiple practice exams and several premium bonuses, so definitely check it out if you’re serious about passing the exam.
3. Know the Exam Rules
It’s important to know the rules that you must follow on exam day, as the NBRC has strict regulations regarding test-taking behavior and conduct. This includes the following:
- You must present two current forms of identification to take the exam, and one must include a photograph.
- You must arrive on time. If you’re more than 15 minutes late, you will not be admitted to take the exam.
- You are not allowed to bring any unauthorized materials, such as notes or electronic devices, into the testing room. You must leave them in your car.
- If your phone or watch vibrates or rings during the exam, you will be disqualified, and no refund will be provided.
- No calculators are permitted; however, the testing software provides a virtual calculator that you may use during the exam.
- You may be asked to remove loose or bulky clothing before entering the exam room. This is to prevent the use of notes or unauthorized recording devices.
- No hats or headgear are permitted unless worn for religious purposes.
- A pencil and scratch paper will be provided to you before the exam. You must return the scratch paper to the proctor after you finish to receive your exam scores.
- Eating and drinking are not permitted in the exam room.
- You are permitted to take a break during the exam, but keep in mind that the timer will not stop. So if you need to stretch or use the restroom, you’d better make it quick.
- You are not permitted to distract or disturb other test-takers.
- You are not allowed to communicate with other test-takers during the exam.
Failure to comply with these rules and regulations can result in disqualification from the exam. To learn more, review the NBRC’s Candidate Handbook and familiarize yourself with all rules, guidelines, and requirements.
4. Be Aware of the Time Limit
The TMC Exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions and has a 3-hour time limit. This may sound like a long time, but you must demonstrate effective time-management skills to finish before time expires.
Remember: The exam is comprehensive and covers a wide range of topics.
Some of the questions are very challenging, and you may not recognize the correct answer right away. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself running out of time before you’ve had the chance to answer all the questions.
To avoid this, try not to spend too much time on the difficult questions.
If you don’t know the correct answer right away, just skip the question, and you can revisit it later. The testing software will allow you to “bookmark” the questions you’re not sure about so that you can come back to them at the end.
Strive to complete around 55 questions per hour, and you should have enough time to answer every question and revisit the ones you’re not sure about.
5. Select an Answer for Each Question
Selecting an answer for each question is important because it’s better to at least make an educated guess rather than leave a question unanswered. The scoring system for the TMC Exam is based on the number of correct answers you select, not the number of questions left unanswered.
Remember: You will not be penalized for guessing.
However, if you leave a question unanswered, you are missing an opportunity to potentially earn points and boost your overall score.
To increase your chances of selecting the correct answer, use the process of elimination to eliminate clearly incorrect answers and make an educated guess based on what you do know.
Avoid second-guessing yourself and trust your initial instincts because, many times, the first option that comes to mind is the correct answer. By taking this approach, you can increase your chances of earning more points and passing the exam.
6. Use Your Scratch Paper Wisely
As previously mentioned, a sheet of scratch paper will be provided for you to use during the exam. It’s meant to help you work through questions that require calculations or computations.
However, believe it or not, your scratch paper can serve as a valuable resource if utilized correctly.
Before beginning the exam, take advantage of the time given to organize your scratch paper and write down any information that may be useful during the exam. You can jot down notes, formulas, normal values, diagrams, or anything else that may help you better understand the questions.
For example, I drew the “lung box” on my scratch paper, which definitely helped with every PFT question I had on the exam. I highly recommend that you utilize this strategy and plan ahead to write down anything you believe will be helpful for you.
Reminder: You must turn in your scratch paper once you’re finished taking the exam. This is a requirement to receive your exam score report.
7. Read Each Question Carefully
The NBRC often includes irrelevant information in some exam questions as a means of testing your knowledge and ability to discern what’s important and what isn’t. Skimming through the questions and not fully reading each one can lead to mistakes and a lower score.
Therefore, you should take your time and carefully read each question and answer choice. Then try to determine what they’re really asking and, if possible, ignore the extraneous details.
Keep in mind that you must be mindful of the 3-hour time limit, while not spending too much time on any one question. There’s a perfect balance you need to strike to ensure that you’re able to complete the exam and perform your best. This is another reason why taking practice exams is so important.
8. Focus on the Most Important Topics
The TMC Exam covers a wide range of material, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information you’re required to learn. To avoid this, it’s essential that you prioritize the most important topics and avoid wasting time studying the wrong things.
We created a video course called TMC Exam Hacks that shares 100+ tips, tricks, and insights that help students focus on the most critically important topics. This is another way that students are improving their scores to pass the exam.
By focusing on the most important topics, you’re better able to effectively utilize study time, which increases your chances of success when you take the exam.
9. Find Ways to Manage Stress
Not too long ago I was in your shoes, frantically trying to study and prepare for the TMC Exam but not knowing where to start. The process can be a stressful experience, but it’s important to try and manage it as best as you can so that it doesn’t negatively impact your performance on the exam.
One way to do this is by developing a study schedule that is realistic and manageable.
This will help you stay organized and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed. Additionally, taking breaks and engaging in stress-relieving activities like exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends and family can help to keep your stress levels in check.
It’s also important to get enough sleep and eat healthy foods to ensure that your body and mind are in the best condition for the exam day. Remember that it’s okay to feel stressed, but it’s important not to let it consume you.
10. Avoid Cramming
Cramming is the practice of trying to learn a large amount of information in a short period of time, typically the night before an exam.
This is typically not a good idea!
Remember what I said about managing stress? Well, last-minute cramming is one way to ensure that your stress levels spike through the roof.
Instead of cramming, it’s much more effective to spread your studying out over a longer period of time. This will help you retain the information better and reduce the amount of stress you feel on the day of the exam.
Create a study schedule, and stick to it. This will help you stay organized, focused, and motivated as you prepare for exam day.
11. Prepare Your Body and Mind
You’ve put in the work, and you’ve made it this far. You’re almost to the finish line! However, preparing for the TMC Exam is not just about studying the material; it’s also about preparing your body and mind for the big day.
This means getting enough sleep the night before, eating a healthy breakfast, and arriving at the test site early to allow yourself time to calm your nerves and focus on the task at hand. It’s also important to be in the right physical and mental state, so you must figure out what works best for you.
Be mindful of the foods you eat, the drinks you consume, and the activities you engage in before test day. If something helps you relax and calm your nerves, it’s likely a good idea to incorporate it into your pre-exam routine.
Also, don’t consume too much caffeine if your body isn’t used to it. If you typically drink coffee in the morning, that’s fine. You can stick to your normal dose. But if you’re not used to caffeine, it’s best to avoid it because too much can make you jittery, nervous, and unfocused.
I’m confident that your mind will be well-prepared and your brain full of the information needed to earn a passing score. One of the last steps is to prepare your body and trust in your abilities and showcase your knowledge on the day of the exam.
12. Believe in Yourself
Believing in yourself might be the most critical yet often underrated tip for passing the TMC Exam. It’s all too easy to get bogged down by self-doubt. But remember, you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to pass this exam.
You’ve made it this far, and you’ve put in the hard work, long hours, and dedication to get to this point. Have faith in your abilities and don’t sell yourself short.
I believe in you; now, you must believe in yourself.
When you truly, and I mean truly believe that you can pass the exam, you put yourself in a better position to achieve success. Self-doubt is a natural part of the test-taking process, but don’t let it hold you back from achieving your dream of becoming a licensed respiratory therapist.
13. Don’t go at it Alone
One of the biggest mistakes respiratory therapy students make when preparing for the TMC Exam is trying to learn everything on their own. It can be overwhelming to try to master all the material by yourself, and it’s easy to get stuck or lose motivation.
That’s why it’s essential to have a support system in place!
Whether it’s joining a study group, taking a review course, or using study materials, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Utilizing our courses and exam prep resources can give you a deeper understanding of the material and keep you on the path to earning your RRT credentials. Remember, you don’t need to do this alone! Let us help you boost your chances of success on the TMC Exam.
Bundle and Save! Pass the TMC Exam on your first (or next) attempt with our bundle package.
Let’s be honest, the TMC Exam is definitely not easy. The preparation process requires a combination of hard work, dedication, and the right resources.
By following the tips outlined in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to master the material and achieve a passing score on the exam. Remember to manage stress, stay focused, prioritize the most important topics, and prepare your body and mind for the big day.
Don’t forget the importance of self-care, taking breaks, and staying positive throughout the process. I’m confident that your hard work and determination will pay off in the end. Remember the quote:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
If things don’t go as planned, that’s okay. Your exam score does not define you, and you can always retake the exam.
However, if you follow the tips outlined in this article and believe in yourself, I’m confident that you’ll earn a passing score on your first (or next) attempt as most of our students do. Best of luck, and, as always, breathe easy, my friend.
John Landry, BS, RRT
John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.
- “The National Board of Respiratory Care,” www.nbrc.org/examinations/rrt.
- “The National Board of Respiratory Care,” www.nbrc.org/examinations/rrt/#general-exam-info.