Is The EMT State Exam/Test (NREMT) Hard To Pass?

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Becoming an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) means taking on a serious responsibility for the health of other people. So, you may be wondering whether it’s hard to take the qualifying exam? Well, this is a tricky question to answer because no two people are going to take the same exam. Fortunately, we can provide the answer you need. 

The NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) exam is designed to challenge your EMT knowledge. It is an adaptive, computer-based test that will give each person different questions based on how they answered the last question, therefore the difficulty can vary.

Though this test sounds confusing and can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Inn this article, we will take a look at what it takes to get through EMT school and pass the national exam to get certified. Check it out.

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Also read: Can You Live Off An EMT/Paramedic Salary? 

What Is The EMT State Exam (NREMT)?


The National Registry of Medical Technicians (NREMT) is the overarching certification program for EMTs. It is the foundational exam of a career as an EMT and it will be required in most states.

However, it’s worth noting that some states may require that you take an individual state test in addition to the NREMT or they may require that you undertake some supervised practice before your EMT license is confirmed. 

If you want to know if this will apply to you – check out your state’s health/government website and see what they require. 

Also read: How to Become an EMT: Expert Guide

Is The EMT State Exam (NREMT) Hard?

Yes and no.

Here are the hard facts – if you are fully prepared and have studied hard and know your stuff, they cannot put a single question on the exam that you can’t answer. There are no trick questions on the NREMT, the exam is not designed to make you fail, but it is designed to test you.

The NREMT is a responsive exam that is designed to see how well you think and then to adapt to your behavior.

When you answer a question correctly, there’s a pretty good chance that you will then be offered another question on a similar subject, but which is harder.

The idea is to take you from “basic” to “competent” by building on your demonstrations of learning. This is going to make it feel difficult to take the test because, in essence, the next question is almost always going to be harder to answer than the previous one, unless you got a question wrong and it will give you an easier question next.

It will continue this pattern until it determines a certain level of competence. The test will end when it determines you answered enough questions of a certain difficulty correctly. So, two people may have to answer a different number of questions to pass the test.

Tip: Since the number of questions you answer can vary from 70-120, you can use this info to your advantage. If you have a low number of questions (70-80 or so) it means you either did really well and got almost all the questions correct or you did quite poorly.

So, if you feel fairly confident with many of your answers and the test stops a lower number of questions, the odds are very good that you passed. However, don’t stress as you can expect your test results pretty quickly (1-3 days usually).

However, none of this really makes the exam hard.

It just makes it challenging. By the time you reach this moment in your EMT career, when you are sitting this test – you should be ready for it. You’ll have done the course work, you’ll have done the practical work, and you should find the test challenging but never impossible. 

This video has some great info for getting you ready for the NREMT test:

Here is a another good resource to help you prepare for the NREMT test.

What Happens If You Fail The EMT Test?

If you fail the EMT test on the first attempt, don’t be too disheartened – everyone has bad days and you are not going to lose the opportunity to become an EMT. At least, not yet.

Firstly, the folks at the NREMT will provide you results to your test that can help you better prepared the next time.

They will explain whether they felt you were “near” or “below” the standard in every area, they will also highlight any areas in which they felt you were “above” the standard.

This can help you to tailor your revision and study for the next time you take the exam, by focusing on your weaknesses. You put the most effort into the areas where you are “below” the standard, then some into those where you were “near” and just a little refresher of things you are “above” the standard in. 

Don’t, whatever you do, try and memorize exactly the answers and questions that you got wrong. You will never see the same question on your NREMT test twice – the questions you tackled in your first attempt are “masked” by the computer and excluded from all future attempts. So, don’t waste your time trying. 

You must wait 15 days following the last test before you can apply to re-sit the test, this is a standard requirement and cannot be waived.

However, you are not given an unlimited number of tries to take on the EMT test.

You get 6 attempts in total. After 3 attempts, you will be required to undertake 24 hours of remedial training before you are allowed to try again.

If you fail a 6th time then you must, if you still wish to continue as an EMT, repeat the entire Emergency Medical Technician training course again. Yes, the entire 1-2 year program of study. 

The NREMT stresses that no-one should try to retake the examination without putting in significant additional efforts into their studies.

They don’t want you to fail and they want to ensure that you give yourself the best opportunity to pass. However, you must reach the minimum standards require for EMTs and the only way to do that is to pass the test, there are no exceptions to this rule. 

How Hard Is Basic EMT School?

EMT school is not designed to be hard, but there’s no doubt that if you don’t work hard, then it will quickly become impossible for you to succeed in your chosen career.

You will be given a textbook that weighs in at around 1,000 pages and you need to know most everything in it.

The only way to do this is to make sure that you spend some time each and every week studying that textbook. You can’t cram it all into a week at the end of the course, you need to break it down and use all your preferred study techniques to get in as you move forward.

You will be expected to undertake multiple-choice written and practical tests and you ought to make sure that you read up on how to pass these tests, they’re not as straightforward as you might expect.

You will also be provided with a copy of the practical skills exam before you have to take it.

This means you can work out exactly what you will be tested on and take the opportunity to practice them so many times that they come completely naturally when you need them. Don’t miss out on this. 

How Hard Is It To Become An EMT?

You will need to be hardworking and dedicated to become an EMT, this is a reflection of the serious responsibilities of the job and the challenging examination you need to pass at the end of the course.

However, any capable adult with self-discipline ought to be able to become an EMT, as long as they put in the work.

This isn’t an impossible task and nor is it meant to be.

Every year thousands of skilled EMTs pass the test and join the workforce. They got there because they worked for it. It’s as simple as that. 

This video covers some helpful info to get you through EMT school successfully:

Why Is EMT Class So Hard?

It isn’t. You don’t need to be a scientist or world-class mathematician to study to be an EMT.

But you are expected to pass the course and do so with all the required knowledge. This isn’t to be difficult – it’s because you will be responsible for saving lives.

If you don’t know what you’re meant to when you’re working, you could hurt someone by accident. 

How Long Does It Take To Become An EMT?

It typically takes between 1 and 2 years for someone to begin a program of study all the way through to taking the NREMT exam at the end and passing it.

It is better to take slightly longer and have a firm grasp on the principles which allow you to pass the exam than to try and rush through the course to get to the end. 

It may take some time after that to get employed as an EMT, depending on what the job market is like in your area.

Also read: What Disqualifies You From Being An EMT/Paramedic?


Is the EMT State Exam (NREMT) Hard? It will certainly feel hard when you’re sitting the exam. It’s meant to challenge and test you, after all, the act of saving lives means working well under pressure – if you can’t manage to dig down deep and pull out the knowledge that you need, you need to be able to learn to do so.

The good news is that you can have more than one attempt to pass the exam, the bad news is that after 3 attempts – you have to go back to school for remedial lessons and that if you fail 6 times, you are no longer able to sit the exam. However, it shouldn’t get that far, if you study hard, work hard and are truly committed, you are more than capable of passing your EMT exam. 

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