World Class: The CMA (AAMA) Credential is Valued and Symbolizes Excellence Everywhere

CMA (AAMA)® certification is a national certification recognized by employers across the country. So, if you move from one state to another, your credential is still valid.

But what if you are interested in working outside the United States? Great news for medical assistants on the go: CMA (AAMA) certification should be usable in nations other than the United States.

This is largely due to the CMA (AAMA) certification program being accredited under ISO 17024—an international standard of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO standards are recognized throughout the world and are considered the global benchmark for personnel certification bodies, thus ensuring the CMA (AAMA) represents a world-class certification.

The CMA Today July/August 2016 Public Affairs article goes into detail about the significance of compliance with ISO 17024:

In addition to obtaining this worldwide indicator of certifying excellence, and thus distinguishing the [Certifying Board] of the AAMA and its CMA (AAMA) designation from all other medical assisting credentialing bodies and credentials, accreditation by the [International Accreditation Service] under ISO 17024 will enable CMAs (AAMA) to more readily obtain medical assisting or similar positions outside of the United States. Furthermore, ISO 17024 recognition provides assurance to the public and all members of the health care community that CMAs (AAMA) are truly qualified to contribute to improved, more accessible patient care, and therefore have the ability to work at the top of their scope of practice.

As a result, medical assistants in the United States and across the globe can be confident that their certification holds value and represents excellence in medical assisting no matter where they are working.

Study Buddies: Get Top Tips for the Certification Exam from Your Peers

Whether you’re certifying for the first or tenth time, the American Association of Medical Assistants® provides a variety of resources to help you prepare to take the CMA (AAMA)® Certification Exam. For example, the “Study for the Exam” webpage offers links to the Content Outline for the CMA (AAMA) Certification Exam, practice questions for medical terminology, and more!

Seeking additional help to prepare for the exam and earn your CMA (AAMA) credential? Look to your peers! Your fellow medical assistants who have taken the exam offer a wealth of knowledge.

We asked medical assistants on Facebook what advice they had for those taking the CMA (AAMA) Certification Exam. Read on for a collection of insider insights.

Practice Exams, Study Guides, and Resources

Having the right tools—and doing your homework, so to speak—can build up your confidence and lay the foundation for success. Several medical assistants recommend taking the CMA (AAMA) Practice Exam and highlight the best ways to use study tools:

Take the practice exam on the AAMA website.

Sarah Williams

I used the outline on the AAMA website. I highlighted what I knew and then studied what wasn’t highlighted. Don’t cram; you will get overwhelmed.

Stacy Hooker

Study months before the exam, and do as many practice questions as possible.

Tia Chapinski

When I studied for [the exam], I … made a bunch of note cards. I also saved all my notes … from school to study with as well. I would have a friend quiz me.

Lindsey Louviere

I made flash cards of terminology, anatomy, office practice and procedure, coding, business ethics, laboratory tubes, etc. After going through my cards a few times, I got rid of the ones I knew and kept studying the ones I didn’t know.

April O’Banion

Best Studying Practices

Now that you have the right tools, wield these helpful hints for better study practices:

Teach others. … If you take time to teach people what you know, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to recall when taking a test.

Julie Gower

When taking the practice exam, set up your room and yourself to mimic the exam setting. Remove everything from your desk, put electronic devices away, etc. And get dressed, including your shoes. This will give you the feeling you are taking a test.

Susan Klos

Applying what I learned from [studying] to my externship experience … helped a lot, because I’m a visual and hands-on person!

Abby Mulero

Do not study the day of the test—and stop studying at 1 p.m. the day before the test. No cramming. Make sure to schedule your test out to give you plenty of time to study and know the material.

Jeni Basson-Geis

Constantly keep refreshing your knowledge, take the practice test often, and quiz yourself in your day-to-day work.

Cass Carey

Always make sure you are getting enough rest.

Josh N Dana Brock

Find a way to de-stress.

Kacie Simons

Take the exam as close to graduation as you can.

Sara Citro

Get experience in the front and back office. Front office helps you to understand the coding and billing. Back office helps you to understand medications/injections, [laboratory] tests, and other things related to patient care as well as management. … Take notes as you study. Mark up your study book. … Go to the testing site dressed up to feel great about yourself and the exam.

Ml Daniel

Make sure you study a little every day leading up to the exam. Never overwhelm yourself with all the information, and you’ll do great.

Emily Myers

Before the Test

Although most exam preparation should take place well in advance, the day before the exam is also a crucial time to physically and mentally prepare yourself:

Get plenty of rest the night before and have a good breakfast that morning!

Georgie Fitch

On exam day, make sure you’ve rested fully and come with the confidence that you’ll pass. The more encouraged [you are] and confidence you have in yourself, the better you’ll do!

Emily Myers

During the Test         

When you’re finally sitting for the exam, adhere to advice like the following to improve your exam-taking skills and enhance the likelihood of achieving a passing score:

Use the noise-reducing headphones if offered. They helped me focus, and I passed.

Taylor Thomas

If you don’t know [an answer], flag it and move on. Don’t spend time overthinking it and get stuck with no time to finish.

Caity Clarke

Make sure you read every word in the question. One word can change what the answer would be.

Lori Crisp

My best advice is to not second-guess yourself. You know more than you think.

Kimberly Pitts

[Use the] process of elimination when stuck on a question.

Amber Hay

Relax, breathe, [and] clear your mind before reading the questions. Don’t think about the previous question when you move on to the next.

Vera McKay

Pace yourselves. Don’t spend too long on a tricky question.

Sandee Griffin

The most common piece of advice: believe in yourself. You’ve got this!

Know a tip that wasn’t included? Share it below in the blog comments!

Does It Count? How to Determine Whether Non-AAMA-Approved CEUs Will Be Accepted

If you have chosen to recertify your CMA (AAMA)® credential via continuing education, you must accumulate 60 recertification points. While at least half of those recertification points must be CEUs approved by the American Association of Medical Assistants® (also called AAMA-approved CEUs), a maximum of 30 recertification points may come from other sources. For example, you could earn non-AAMA-approved recertification points by taking college or university credit courses, completing continuing medical education (CME) programs, or authoring texts (e.g., textbooks, textbook chapters, and articles) all of which must pertain to medical assisting.

Because only medical assisting relevant education counts toward your recertification, you must use AAMA resources to establish whether a program will be accepted for recertification points.

Overall, the AAMA will accept a program for recertification if its subject matter is (1) relevant to medical assisting, (2) at least one contact hour (50 minutes), and (3) formal credit was issued (e.g., college credit, a CEU, CME, or contact hour) within your current recertification period. Documentation should include proof of completion, the course description, the organization that is issuing credit, the amount and type of credit, and the date(s) of activity.

These documents can serve as guidelines for topics usable for recertification points:

Further, you are responsible for using these documents to determine the correct content area for each point. If a continuing education program covers more than one content area, points should be assigned based on the length of time devoted to each area.

Notably, the AAMA will not update your transcript when you attend non-AAMA-approved programs and events. Because of this, you should save any related documentation (e.g., the syllabus, workshop flyer describing the topic, and documentation of formal credit) to include when you submit the CMA (AAMA) Recertification by Continuing Education Application by mail or when you upload your non-AAMA-approved CEUs documentation and apply online.

Contact hours and dates must be clearly documented when submitting the application. Please note that you are also required to submit the recertification fee ($65 for current members, $130 for nonmembers) when you submit the CMA (AAMA) Recertification by Continuing Education Application. To best protect your information, the AAMA does not accept faxed or emailed CMA (AAMA) Recertification by Continuing Education Applications.

Piece of Cake: Three Sweet and Simple Steps to Recertifying by CE 

So, you decided to recertify your CMA (AAMA)® credential by continuing education (CE). Now what?

The process of recertification by CE can be broken down into three easy steps:

1. Verify your CMA (AAMA) certification expiration date.

Your certification is valid for 60 months from the end of the calendar month of initial certification or most recent recertification.

To check when your certification expires, visit the “My Account” section of the AAMA website, then select the “My Certification Information” tab of the left-side menu.


If your credential has been expired for more than 90 days, you forfeit the right to reactivate the credential by continuing education and must sit for the CMA (AAMA) Certification Exam. See the “Recertification Policies” webpage for details.

Avoid missing the deadline: Check the “Last Date to Apply by Continuing Education Timelines” table on the “Recertification Policies” webpage and see if you are still eligible to recertify by CE.

2. Complete all the required CEUs before your expiration date.

You must acquire 60 recertification points, 30 of which must be AAMA-approved continuing education units (CEUs). The category breakdown of points must be as follows:

  • 10 administrative
  • 10 clinical
  • 10 general
  • 30 from any combination of the above three categories

Learn more about category requirements by reading “Recertification Points Category Requirements for Recertification.”

Plus, find CEUs on the AAMA website.

Note: As another option, you can also recertify via the CMA (AAMA) Certification Exam.

3. Apply and submit your fee.

After you complete all your CEUs, even if you earned all AAMA CEUs, you must complete the application. If you do not, your recertification will not be processed.

Review the AAMA Recertification By Continuing Education Application and provide the required documentation and enrollment fee via online application, phone, or mail submission.

Note: If you are applying online, you do not need to fill out the Recertification by Continuing Education Application. However, you still must apply online, which requires the application fee.

The following fees are required:

  • AAMA Member: $65
  • AAMA Nonmember: $130
  • Reactivation fee*: $50

*The reactivation fee is only necessary if you apply for recertification after your credential has expired.

Once you have completed all three steps, congratulations! Savor your success; you are on the way to recertification. Please allow up to 30 days for application processing.

The Value and Significance of IAS Accreditation: Who, What, Why, and How

The CMA (AAMA)® credential represents the highest standard for certification in the medical assisting profession. This high standard was recognized by the International Accreditation Service (IAS) in 2016, when the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants® (AAMA) received independent recognition that its criteria and processes for earning the CMA (AAMA) credential meet ISO/IEC Standard 17024:2012 (hereafter referred to as “ISO 17024”), the global benchmark for personnel certification bodies.

What is the significance of this achievement? Read on to learn more about ISO compliance and additional resources.


The goal of the IAS is to “protect lives and property through accreditation of competent organizations providing services, products, and oversight worldwide.”

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent, nongovernmental international organization that “supports innovation and provides solutions to global challenges.” With membership in 161 countries, ISO has published more than 24,000 International Standards.


“Conformity Assessment—General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons,” more commonly known as ISO 17024, is one of the International Standards of the ISO. The first version of ISO 17024 was published in 2003, and the current version was issued in 2012. Note the following from the introduction of ISO 17024:

This International Standard has been developed with the objective of achieving and promoting a globally accepted benchmark for organizations operating certification of persons. Certification for persons is one means of providing assurance that the certified person meets the requirements of the certification scheme [program]. Confidence in the respective certification schemes for persons is achieved by means of a globally accepted process of assessment and periodic re-assessments of the competence of certified persons. …

… This International Standard can serve as the basis for recognition of certification bodies for persons and the certification schemes under which persons are certified, in order to facilitate their acceptance at the national and international levels. Only the harmonization of the system for developing and maintaining certification schemes for persons can establish the environment for mutual recognition and the global exchange of personnel.

This International Standard specifies requirements which ensure that certification bodies for persons operating certification schemes for persons operate in a consistent, comparable and reliable manner.


Compliance with ISO 17024 is a worldwide indicator of certifying excellence, thus distinguishing the CB of the AAMA and its CMA (AAMA) designation from all other medical assisting credentialing bodies and credentials.

Further, accreditation by the IAS under ISO 17024 enables CMAs (AAMA) to more readily obtain medical assisting or similar positions outside of the United States. Finally, ISO 17024 recognition provides assurance to the public and all members of the health care community that CMAs (AAMA) are truly qualified to contribute to improved, more accessible patient care, and therefore have the ability to work at the top of their scope of practice.


In order to receive accreditation, the Certifying Board had to demonstrate that it operates in full compliance with the exacting requirements of ISO 17024. In so doing, the AAMA has established itself as a highly respected and credible personnel certification organization for the medical assisting profession.

Learn More

Find more details about IAS accreditation and ISO 17024 compliance by reading the July/August 2016 Public Affairs article in CMA Today, “Why IAS Accreditation and ISO 17024 Compliance Are Monumental Achievements,” or the April 2016 press release.