National Certified Phlebotomy Technician Exam

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The National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT) examination is administered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), a credentialing organization founded in 1989.[1] The examination is periodically updated based on the results of job analysis surveys to ensure that the material tested matches the skills and knowledge phlebotomy technicians (PTs) use in the real world. In these surveys, more than a thousand PTs rate the significance of various job tasks, and a committee designs the test plan for the examination based on these survey results.[2]

Function of the Test

NCPT Study Guide

The NCPT examination is typically taken by individuals in the United States who have either graduated from an NCCT-approved program in phlebotomy or who have worked as a PT for at least one full year. Achieving certification is usually optional from a career standpoint, but it may improve future job prospects.[3]

The NCCT reports that more than 400,000 people have earned a certification through the organization since 1989, but it does not report how many have earned the NCPT certification in particular.[4] However, 17,773 people held current, active NCPT certification as of 2011,[5] and out of the 12,762 people who took the NCPT examination in 2011, 73% passed the examination.[5]

Test Administration

NCPT Flashcards

The NCCT offers more than 700 test sites across the United States, but does not maintain an online list. Candidates are to call 800-875-4404 to locate the nearest test site.[6] In addition, the NCCT does not publish information about the dates or times at which the NCPT examination is offered.

The fee for taking the NCPT is either $90 for current students or recent graduates of an approved program or else $135 for people who have been out of school for more than six months.[7] Alternatively, there is a special $90 price for candidates associated with the military.[8]

The NCPT examination takes 2.5 hours to complete and has 145 scored questions.[7] Both a computer-based version and a paper-based version of the examination exist.[7]

Candidates who require special accommodations for disabilities should send a written request to NCCT along with supporting documentation at least four weeks before the intended testing date.[7][9] Requests must include the specific accommodation requested, and the supporting documentation must meet several criteria (such as including specific diagnostic criteria and test dates) which are detailed in the NCCT Candidate Handbook.[7]

Candidates who fail the examination receive a score report detailing their performance on each of the content areas of the examination in order to draw their attention to those areas which they need to review.[7] Candidates must wait at least 30 days before retaking a failed examination, and only three lifetime attempts are allowed. Each retest requires a new application, including payment of the full fee.[7]


Sections of the Phlebotomy Technician Test
Phlebotomy Technician Test Subject Areas Number of Scored Items
Quality and Professional Issues 26
Infection Control and Safety 30
Terms and Anatomy 19
Orders and Equipment Selection 26
Patient ID and Site Preparation 15
Collection, Problems, and Corrections 29
Total 145

Test Environment

The Phlebotomy exam is offered in two forms. Candidates may take it with paper and pencil, where they will receive an answer sheet to fill in, or on a computer-based exam. In order to take either format, each candidate for the Phelbotomy Exam must bring a government issued, photo ID. This ID must match the name and address that was provided at the time of registration. There are no drinks or snacks allowed in the testing area. All electronics are expected to be turned off for the entire testing period.[10]

Test Structure

The Phlebotomy test plan contains 145 exam questions that cover six different content categories: Quality and Professional Issues; Infection Control and Safety; Terms and Anatomy; Orders and Equipment Selection; Patient ID and Site Preparation; and Collection, Problems, and Corrections. The Phlebotomy exam allows two and a half hours to complete all 145 questions.[11]

Sample Questions


The NCPT examination has 145 scored test items.[7] Candidates' scores are based on the correct answers given, meaning that incorrect answers and omitted answers are treated the same way. There is no penalty for guessing.[7]

The NCPT examination is criterion-referenced, meaning that there is no single "passing score." Criterion-referenced exams are designed to measure how well each candidate has achieved the minimum necessary entry-level knowledge to be certified in the profession. Each individual question is judged to determine the likelihood that a qualified candidate would answer the question correctly. As such, easier questions—the ones even a minimally-qualified candidate should be able to answer correctly—are worth more than harder questions.[7]

In recent years, both the pass rate and the average number of correct answers has declined on the NCPT exam (see below). It is unclear whether this reflects any changes in difficulty in the examination itself.

NCPT Exam Pass Rates and
Average Scores by Year[5]
Year Pass
2006 87% 80.57
2007 85% 80.57
2008 85% 79.50
2009 78% 76.40
2010 71% 73.83
2011 73% 74.53


  1. ^ National Center for Competency Testing June 17 2014
  2. ^ NCCT Subject Matter Experts June 17 2014
  3. ^ National Certified Phlebotomy Technician brochure June 17 2014
  4. ^ About NCCT June 17 2014
  5. ^ a b c NCCT Pass Rate Reports for Active Certification Exams June 17 2014
  6. ^ NCCT: Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT) June 17 2014
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j NCCT Candidate Handbook June 17 2014
  8. ^ NCCT Examination Fees June 17 2014
  9. ^ NCCT: Frequently Asked Questions About Certifications June 17 2014
  10. ^ Phlebotomy Technician Test Information 29 July 2014
  11. ^ Phlebotomy Technician Test Information 29 July 2014