FAQs About the TMC Exam Vector

TMC Exam Prep: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (2024)

by | Updated: Jun 11, 2024

Are you preparing for the TMC Exam? If so, you are probably filled with a mixture of excitement and nervousness as the exam day approaches.

While the TMC Exam is an important milestone in your career as a respiratory therapist, it can also be a major source of stress and uncertainty.

To help you feel more confident, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what to expect on exam day and how to prepare effectively.

This guide will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the TMC Exam.

Whether you’re looking for information on exam format, content, or scoring, this guide is a valuable resource for anyone ready to prepare for (and pass) the exam.

FAQs About the TMC Exam

What is the TMC Exam?

The TMC Exam, or Therapist Multiple-Choice Exam, is a national certification exam for respiratory therapists in the United States.

Administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), it’s designed to assess the knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary for an individual to practice as a licensed respiratory therapist.

Passing the TMC Exam is a requirement to earn the certified respiratory therapist (CRT) credential and, with a higher score, to become eligible for the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE), which can lead to the registered respiratory therapist (RRT) credential.

This makes the TMC Exam a crucial step for anyone looking to advance their career in respiratory therapy.

Student preparing for the TMC Exam Vector

What is the Passing Score for the TMC Exam?

The passing score for the TMC Exam varies depending on the credential you’re aiming for. To earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential, you need a minimum score of 86.

To be eligible to take the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE) and pursue the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential, you need a minimum score of 92.

The low-cut passing requirement, which qualifies you for the CRT credential, is equivalent to 62% of the questions, whereas the high-cut passing score for eligibility to take the CSE is 66%.

How Many Questions Are on the TMC Exam?

The TMC Exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions. Among these, 140 questions are scored, and the remaining 20 questions are pretest items that are used for experimental purposes to help develop future exams.

It’s important to note that the pretest items are not identified as such, so candidates should treat every question with equal importance and answer each one to the best of their ability.

The questions cover a wide range of topics pertinent to respiratory therapy, including mechanical ventilation, pharmacology, pathology, airway management, and pulmonary function testing (PFT), among others.

What is the Time Limit for the TMC Exam?

The TMC Exam has a 3-hour time limit. This duration is intended to provide ample time for candidates to answer all 160 multiple-choice questions, including both scored and pretest items.

Effective time management is crucial during the exam to ensure you can carefully consider each question without spending too much time on any single item.

It’s also beneficial to practice taking similar exams under timed conditions to become accustomed to the pacing required to complete the exam within the allotted time.

How to Pass the TMC Exam?

Passing the TMC Exam requires a combination of comprehensive study, practice, and strategic test-taking skills.

Here are some tips to help you prepare and succeed:

  • Take Practice Exams: Familiarize yourself with the exam format and types of questions you’ll encounter. Practice exams can help identify areas where you need more study.
  • Practice with TMC Exam Questions: Using study materials that include practice questions similar to those on the actual exam can help you understand how to apply your knowledge.
  • Know the Exam Rules: Understand the rules and procedures for the exam day to reduce stress and avoid any surprises.
  • Be Aware of the Time Limit: Practice time management skills so you can complete all questions within the 3-hour limit.
  • Use Your Scratch Paper Wisely: Plan how to use the provided scratch paper for calculations or to jot down thoughts, especially for more complex scenarios.
  • Read Each Question Carefully: Make sure you understand what each question is asking before choosing an answer, paying attention to details that could change your response.
  • Use Insider Exam Hacks: Learn exclusive exam hacks and strategies to improve your chances of selecting the right one.
  • Find Ways to Manage Stress: Develop techniques that help you stay calm and focused during your study sessions and on exam day.
  • Avoid Cramming: Space out your study sessions over weeks or months. This approach is more effective than trying to learn everything at the last minute.
  • Don’t go at it Alone: Engage with study groups or find a study partner. Discussing topics with others can enhance your understanding and retention.

Additionally, leveraging resources like our TMC Exam Hacks video course and signing up for daily practice questions via email can be beneficial.

Preparing for the TMC Exam is not just about memorizing facts but understanding how to apply knowledge in various scenarios.

By following these tips and dedicating sufficient time to your preparation, you can increase your chances of passing the TMC Exam and moving forward in your career as a respiratory therapist.

What are the Best Study Materials for the TMC Exam?

The best study materials for the TMC Exam comprehensively cover the detailed content outline provided by the NBRC.

They should include all the primary topics required to earn a passing score.

One widely recommended resource is our TMC Exam Bundle, which includes premium practice questions, Exam Hacks, practice exams, and other exclusive materials that thousands of students have used to pass the exam.

Top Rated
TMC Exam Bundle

Get instant access to 3+ premium courses to pass the TMC Exam. - TMC Test Bank, TMC Exam Hacks, and Daily Practice Questions. Bundle and Save!

How Many Times Can You Retake the TMC Exam?

You can attempt the TMC Exam three times without any waiting period between attempts. However, if you need to take the exam more than three times, you must wait a minimum of 120 days between subsequent attempts.

Each time you retake the TMC Exam, you’ll need to complete the application process again and pay the application fee for each attempt.

This policy allows candidates multiple opportunities to pass the exam while also ensuring they take the time to adequately prepare before each attempt.

How Much Does it Cost to Take the TMC Exam?

The cost to take the TMC Exam is $190 for new applicants. If you need to retake the exam, the fee for repeat applicants is $150.

These fees cover the cost of administering the exam and processing the application.

It’s important to plan for these expenses as part of your preparation for becoming a certified or registered respiratory therapist.

Where Can I Take the TMC Exam?

The TMC Exam is administered on Monday through Saturday in more than 300+ testing centers across the United States. This may exclude nationally recognized holidays.

Once you’re eligible and approved to take the exam, you can schedule your exam date online in an assessment center near you.

Can I Take a Free TMC Practice Exam Online?

Yes, you can take a free TMC practice exam online. Practice exams are an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the exam format and types of questions you’ll encounter on the actual TMC Exam.

They can help you identify areas where you need further study and practice applying your knowledge under exam-like conditions.

The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), which administers the TMC Exam, offers a free online practice exam that is highly recommended for all students preparing for the exam.

Additionally, we offer a free TMC practice exam to aid in your exam preparation.

Utilizing these practice exams as part of your study plan can significantly increase your chances of success on the exam.

Practice Exam
TMC Practice Exam (Free)

Take our 160-question TMC Practice Exam to help prepare for the real thing. It's 100% FREE. 

What Topics Are Covered on the TMC Exam?

The TMC Exam covers a wide range of topics related to respiratory care practice, ensuring that candidates have a comprehensive understanding and can competently apply their knowledge in various scenarios.

Some of the key topics included in the exam are:

  • Mechanical Ventilation: Knowledge of ventilator settings, modes of ventilation, patient-ventilator synchrony, and troubleshooting.
  • Pathology: Understanding of diseases and conditions that affect the respiratory system, including COPD, asthma, pneumonia, and ARDS.
  • Airway Management: Techniques and equipment used for maintaining patient airway patency, including suctioning, intubation, and use of artificial airways.
  • Pharmacology: Medications used in respiratory care, including bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and antibiotics, along with their mechanisms of action, indications, and side effects.
  • Patient Assessment: Evaluating patient respiratory status through physical examination, medical history, and diagnostic tests like blood gas analysis and pulmonary function testing.
  • Neonatal/Pediatric Care: Special considerations and techniques for managing respiratory care in neonates and children.
  • Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT): Understanding and interpreting tests that measure lung volume, capacity, flow rates, and gas exchange.
  • Cardiopulmonary Monitoring: Use of monitoring equipment to assess heart and lung function, including ECG, pulse oximetry, and capnography.

The exam assesses candidates’ ability to evaluate and make recommendations for patients, maintain and troubleshoot respiratory care equipment, initiate and modify respiratory care interventions, and monitor the effectiveness of interventions.

This comprehensive approach ensures that respiratory therapists are well-prepared to provide quality care in various clinical settings.

When Will I Receive My Exam Scores?

You will receive your TMC Exam score and a detailed report moments after completing the exam.

This immediate feedback allows you to know whether you’ve passed and earned the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential or, if your score is high enough, eligibility to take the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE) for the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.

Before receiving your score report, you will be required to turn in your scratch paper, ensuring the integrity of the exam process.

What are the High Cut and Low Cut Scores for the TMC Exam?

For the TMC Exam, the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) has established two cut scores:

  • Low Cut Score: To earn the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential, you need a score of at least 86 out of 140 scored items. This corresponds to the minimum passing requirement.
  • High Cut Score: For eligibility to take the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE) and pursue the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential, a score of at least 92 out of 140 scored items is required.

Achieving the low cut score qualifies you as a CRT, while reaching or surpassing the high cut score makes you eligible to attempt the CSE, which can lead to earning the RRT credential.

These thresholds are designed to ensure that candidates possess the necessary knowledge and skills for their level of certification.

What is the Pass Rate for the TMC Exam?

For new candidates, the pass rate for the TMC Exam is approximately 77.3% for those achieving the low cut score, which qualifies them for the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential.

The pass rate for achieving the high cut score, which makes candidates eligible to take the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE) for the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential, is approximately 68.1%.

These statistics reflect the performance of individuals taking the exam for the first time and indicate a relatively high success rate, demonstrating that with adequate preparation, candidates have a strong chance of passing the exam.

What is the Difference Between a CRT and an RRT?

The difference between a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) primarily lies in the level of credentialing, which reflects the depth of knowledge, clinical skills, and competencies in the field of respiratory care.

A CRT credential is considered the entry-level qualification in respiratory therapy, obtained by passing the Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Exam with a minimum score. This certification demonstrates that an individual has met the basic requirements to practice as a respiratory therapist.

On the other hand, an RRT credential represents a more advanced level of professional certification. To achieve RRT status, a candidate must first pass the TMC Exam with a high-cut score that qualifies them to take the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE), which they must also pass.

This additional testing ensures that RRTs have a greater depth of understanding and are capable of more complex clinical decision-making and leadership in various healthcare settings.

Therefore, while both CRTs and RRTs are vital to respiratory care, the RRT credential signifies a higher standard of expertise and opens the door to broader career opportunities and advancement within the profession.

How Long Should I Study for the TMC Exam?

The length of time needed to study for the TMC Exam varies significantly among individuals, depending on factors like previous education, experience, familiarity with the exam content, and personal learning speed.

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, it’s generally recommended to spend a minimum of two to three months preparing for the exam.

Here are some considerations to help you determine the right amount of study time for you:

  • Assess Your Base Knowledge: If you’ve recently completed your respiratory therapy program, you might be familiar with much of the exam content, possibly requiring less time to review. However, if you’ve been out of school for a while, you may need more time to refresh your knowledge.
  • Evaluate Your Study Habits: Consider how quickly you absorb information and how much time you can consistently dedicate to studying each day or week.
  • Use Practice Exams: Taking practice exams can help identify areas where you need more review, which can adjust your study timeline.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Focused, quality study time is more beneficial than long hours of unfocused studying. Make sure your study sessions are productive.
  • Plan for Review: Allocate the last few weeks before the exam for review, focusing on areas of weakness identified during your preparation.
  • Balance is Key: Ensure you’re not burning out by studying too much at once. It’s important to maintain a balanced schedule that includes breaks and time for other activities.

Ultimately, starting your preparation early and adjusting your study plan as you progress is crucial.

Some candidates may find that they need more than the recommended two to three months, while others may need less. The goal is to feel confident and well-prepared by the time you sit for the exam.

Many of our students find it helpful to preparing early by going through practice questions a little bit at a time. This is when signing up for our Daily Practice Questions can come in handy.

Top Rated
Daily Practice Questions
Sign up to get premium TMC practice questions delivered to your inbox every day.

What are the Admission Requirements for the TMC Exam?

To be eligible for the TMC Exam, candidates must meet the following admission requirements:

  • Age Requirement: Candidates must be at least 18 years old.
  • Educational Requirement: Candidates must have a minimum of an associate degree from a respiratory therapy education program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) or from a program that the CoARC recognizes as equivalent. This ensures that all candidates have received a baseline level of education in respiratory care.
  • Eligibility for Canadian Graduates: Individuals who have obtained the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (CSRT) Registered Respiratory Therapist credential are also eligible to take the TMC Exam. This allows Canadian RRTs to seek certification and employment in the United States, provided they meet the other requirements set by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC).

Note: These requirements are designed to ensure that all candidates for the TMC Exam have achieved a certain level of education and competency in respiratory care, providing a solid foundation for their professional practice.

When is the Application Deadline?

There is no specific application deadline for the TMC Exam. Candidates can submit their application to take the exam at any time, as long as they meet the admission requirements.

This rolling application process allows candidates the flexibility to apply and schedule the exam when they feel prepared and ready, making it convenient to fit into their personal and professional schedules.

Once approved to take the exam, candidates can choose a date and location that suits them from the available options at testing centers across the United States.

This approach helps accommodate the diverse needs and timelines of all candidates pursuing certification as respiratory therapists.

How to Apply for the TMC Exam?

Whether you choose to apply for the TMC Exam online or through a paper application, you must first ensure that you have met the admission requirements.

Applying online and paying the application fee via credit card is the quickest option, with the application being processed immediately. If you decide to mail in your application and fee, the processing time may take approximately five to seven business days.

How Hard is the TMC Exam?

The TMC Exam is considered challenging due to its comprehensive nature, covering a wide range of topics related to respiratory therapy. It’s designed to assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are essential for safe and effective practice as a respiratory therapist.

The difficulty of the exam can vary for each individual, depending on their educational background, experience, and how well they have prepared.

The exam tests candidates on their understanding of patient evaluation and recommendations, initiation and modification of interventions, equipment maintenance, and infection control, among other areas.

Given the breadth of content covered and the critical thinking required to apply this knowledge to practical scenarios, thorough preparation is key.

However, with the right study plan, resources, and dedication, many candidates successfully pass the TMC Exam. It’s recommended to:

  • Review all content areas outlined by the NBRC for the exam.
  • Take practice exams to familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions asked.
  • Focus on areas where you feel less confident or have less experience.
  • Study consistently over a period of time rather than cramming.

Remember: The exam’s difficulty level is intended to ensure that only those who have the requisite knowledge and skills to practice safely and effectively as respiratory therapists are certified. With adequate preparation, you can increase your chances of performing well on the TMC Exam.

How is the TMC Exam Different from the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE)?

The Therapist Multiple-Choice (TMC) Exam and the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE) serve different purposes and assess different levels of competency in the field of respiratory care.

The TMC Exam evaluates the candidate’s foundational knowledge and understanding of respiratory care principles necessary for practice. It consists of multiple-choice questions that test recall, application, and information analysis.

In contrast, the CSE assesses a candidate’s ability to apply clinical knowledge in simulated patient care scenarios, focusing on critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. It simulates real-life situations where candidates must make clinical decisions based on the information presented.

Final Thoughts

By taking the time to familiarize yourself with the information presented in this article, you will be well-equipped and prepared for the TMC Exam whenever that time comes.

From understanding the admission requirements to the cost of the exam and the difference between the CRT and RRT credentials, hopefully, this article has provided information to help you navigate the exam process.

As you prepare for the exam, remember to allow yourself sufficient time to study, utilize our valuable resources, and try to develop strong test-taking skills.

By putting in the necessary time and effort, you can increase your chances of success on the TMC Exam and pursue a fulfilling career as a respiratory therapist.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

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.