How To Study for the SPI Exam


In this article...

It can be hard to digest that you must clear one more exam just after graduation from a sonography educational program to obtain your ARDMS credentials. I can relate to it as I was told you need a Ph.D. for your “original” research after my three years of intensive educational programs. But it was fine!  

There are several helpful tips that you can follow to study for your ARDMS SPI exams. Preparation and practice improve your chances of success.

In this article, I will list the things you should focus on, which will help you prepare for the SPI exam with minimum stress. 

Tips for SPI Exam Preparation

I’m listing them based on their priorities, so the top listings are almost non-negotiable.   

Thoroughly Understand the Syllabus

There are five content areas that the SPI examination tests you on, and they are:

  • Clinical Safety, Patient Care, and Quality Assurance
  • Physical Principles
  • Ultrasound Transducers 
  • Imaging Principles and Instrumentation
  • Doppler Imaging Concepts 

I would also love to share this article on Syllabus for the SPI Exam, which further explains the subdivisions within the five main content areas for you to focus on. Useful stuff!

Image source: Pexels

Focus on Sections With Higher Allotments of Marks

As I mentioned, there are five sections, but not all sections carry an equal percentage of marks. Take, for example, the section on “Doppler Imaging Concepts,” which covers more than 30% of the overall exam. 

So the ideal start point for your preparation should start from Doppler Imaging Concepts and follow through this pattern:  

  • Doppler Imaging Concepts (31% of the overall exam
  • Imaging Principles and Instrumentation (28% of the overall exam)
  • Ultrasound Transducers (16% of the overall exam)
  • Physical Principles (15% of the overall exam)
  • Clinical Safety, Patient Care, and Quality Assurance (10% of the overall exam)

Yes, it’s clear that core-science-related areas carry more marks and take more time to study and grasp. But by focusing on the hard stuff first, you are setting yourself up to score well.  

Image source: Pexels

Know How You Will Be Tested on the Exam

I’m sure you now have a good grasp on “what” (content outline) you will be tested on. But it’s also essential you understand “how” you will be tested. Here are some facts on the SPI exam format:

  • The SPI examination is a two hours long examination   
  • It contains 110 multiple-choice questions
  • Your score ranges from 300 to 700
  • The passing score is 555, which is the cut-off that ARDMS deems to represent basic competency, and it’s not based on a percentage. Please visit this page on scoring for more info. 

Follow Up Your Preparations With Practice Tests

So you have prepared for the exam and know how you will be tested on the exam date. Yet, don’t stop there. I highly recommend you challenge yourself using mock tests. Feel free to use our free resources, such as the SPI Practice test.  

This step is crucial as science can be tricky

You might have understood all the concepts, but without an actual practice session, a simple change of sentencing in questions can make it feel like something new and not in your territory of expertise. Therefore, it affects your confidence during the examination.

Image source: Pexels

Come Up With a Study Plan

There is no universal study plan that works for all of us. I love listening to pleasant music when studying, while some of my roommates prefer absolute silence! Trust yourself and prepare a study plan that you strongly believe you will be able to follow through.

Always feel free to experiment and see whether you prefer conferences, lectures, and Youtube videos to understand physics concepts. 

Or you can also learn well by following through with books and having stimulating discussions with friends who can help you out. And feel free to check out our SPI Hero comprehensive exam study guide.

The SPI Exams Are Competitive

My intention is not to spook you out, but numbers don’t lie, and I want you to look at these figures:

2021: 60%

2020: 68%

2019: 65%

2018: 65%

2017: 67%

2016: 70​%​

2015: 72%

2014: 71%

2013: 72%

​These statistics represent the examination year and the pass rate corresponding to them. Do you see a pattern? Even though the sample size is small (9 years), there is a case to be made that the number of people who pass exams is in decline. You can find the stats on the ARDMS page.

So if you’re stressed about the exams, remember it can be a good thing because you understand things are serious. And it won’t be that easy!      

But Also Remember— It’s All Going To Be Okay

All the above-mentioned tips are practical kinds of stuff that are important. But this listing is on a more psychological level. 

I remember the days in my university when I used to be anxious and stressed after skimming through the hefty syllabus for exams. 

And when I did start putting in the necessary efforts, my heartbeat would race, and I would be frustrated just after completing 10% of my schedule.

The reason was fear! To be exact, fear of failure. What if the exam questions are difficult; will I be tested on the 1% of the stuff I choose to ignore; what If I fail the exam; These negative thoughts about “ifs” and “buts” about the exam would soon overwhelm my psyche.

I just had to say those words out loud! “It’s all gonna be okay,” when you think about it, it’s practical. You know the content outline; you know the exam format, so you know your scores are dependent on preparation and practice. Nothing else! (Okay, maybe a tiny bit of luck.) 

It was a great stress buster. A small pep talk with yourself when you’re down can inspire you to follow through with your goals. Still, feeling stressed? Feel free to read through this article on passing the SPI examination.  

Image source: Pexels

Wrapping Up

Becoming a certified sonographer is a great accomplishment. It opens up the door for a world of opportunities within the healthcare industry. Because of its importance, anxiousness about the SPI exams is alright. 

What’s more important? It’s to channel this energy so you can prepare and practice for the exam. Again, you are welcome to use our free resources, such as the SPI Practice test

I’m also inviting you to check out the SPI Hero comprehensive exam study guide, which can help with your exam preparation. And in achieving great results in the end.