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Certification FAQs: The HT Exam

In previous Fixation on Histology posts we have shared study tips for the exam and gave you step by step instructions for how to apply for the test, but what about the test itself? What is on it? What can you expect when you sit down to take it? We have the answers for you!


Content Breakdown

You can find a content breakdown for the exam on the ASCP website. This will provide more detail on the topics within each content area that will be covered. It also lists everything that will be covered on the HT and what will appear on only the HTL but not the HT. This is a good way to determine, if you are qualified for both and deciding which to take, whether or not you are ready for the HTL. The HTL has more IHC, in addition to management, regulations, and chemical principles.


Computer Adaptive Testing

There are going to be 100 questions on the exam. The exam is computer adaptive, meaning that when you answer a question correctly, the next question will be harder. If you get a question wrong, the next question will be easier. Below is a model of computer adaptive testing. There is an ability level that you must reach and stay above in order to pass the exam. The test is going to get harder as you go along, and you may get to questions that you don’t know. That doesn’t mean that you are not going to pass. You will have 2 ½ hours to complete the test, and you can go back. Keep in mind however, that the test is computer adaptive, so your questions are based on your answers to the previous questions. You don’t want to leave something blank or just guess with the intention of coming back. Taking your time and giving each question your best response the first time around will make it more likely that you reach that passing threshold.


If you are interested in how computer adaptive testing works, NSH’s Exam Simulator is a 2,000 question practice test designed to simulate the ASCP exam. You can purchase it for $79 for NSH members, which gives you a year of access.


Passing and Failing

For the HT exam, you can receive a score from 0-999. The minimum passing score is 400. Once you have answered the questions it will ask you whether you are sure you want to submit the exam. It will then give you a screen letting you know whether you have passed or failed so you don’t want to click through too quickly, or you might miss the result! It is not a grand celebration with balloons if you pass, just a line in regular size font so take your time at the end! You won’t know your numeric score immediately; it will take 4 days to 2 weeks. It will take a month to 6 weeks for you to actually get your certificate if you passed. If your company requires proof of certification, you can request official 3rd party verification through the ASCP for $16.


Need a review before you take the exam? Check out NSH’s HT Prep Course, which includes 8 ½ hours of webinar instruction on the topics you will see on the HT exam.

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The National Society for Histotechnology is a professional member organization for individuals actively involved in the histology profession. NSH has over 3,000 members worldwide, and is the leading provider of histology focused continuing education.  

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