TMC Exam Passing Score: A Comprehensive Guide To Achieving Your Goal

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The TMC exam, or the Therapist Multiple-Choice Examination, is an important standardized test for individuals seeking certification as respiratory therapists. Administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC), the TMC exam assesses the knowledge and skills required for respiratory therapists to provide standard patient care. 

As a governing body, the NBRC sets standards for the profession, ensuring that respiratory therapists are competent and qualified to perform their duties. If you are an aspiring respiratory therapist, passing the TMC exam is critical in obtaining certification and practicing in the field.

Usually, the exam is challenging and requires preparation and a deep understanding of respiratory therapy principles and practices. However, the effort and dedication needed to pass the TMC exam are well worth it. Here, we will explore what is required to pass the TMC exam and how to do so.

How is the TMC exam graded?

The TMC exam is computer-based and is graded automatically by the computer program immediately after completion. The exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions, each worth one point, resulting in a maximum score of 160. The examination covers the following areas;

  1. Mechanical ventilation
  2. Pharmacology
  3. Pathology
  4. Airway management
  5. Pulmonary function testing

The TMC exam is a criterion-referenced exam, which means that the passing score is based on a predetermined standard of knowledge and skills required to be a competent respiratory therapist. The NBRC uses a panel of subject matter experts to determine the content of the exam and the passing score. 

The panel also reviews the exam questions to ensure that they are relevant, accurate, and fair and sets the passing score based on the level of knowledge and skills required to be a competent respiratory therapist.

In addition to the overall score, candidates receive a detailed score report that provides information on their performance in each content area covered by the exam. You can use this information to identify areas of strength and weakness and guide further study and preparation for future exams.

What is the passing score for the TMC exam?

The passing score for the TMC exam is 62%. The passing score is determined by a panel of subject matter experts who review the exam content and set the standard of knowledge and skills required to perform respiratory therapy duties safely and effectively.

There are two passing thresholds for the exam. Candidates who score 86 or higher on the TMC Exam can earn the certified respiratory therapist (CRT) credential. Candidates scoring 92 or higher on the TMC Exam can take the Clinical Simulation Exam (CSE), a hands-on test that evaluates clinical skills and decision-making abilities.

If you pass the TMC Exam with a high cut score and the CSE, you will earn the registered respiratory therapist (RRT) credential. The RRT credential is the highest level of credentialing offered by the NBRC and is considered the standard for respiratory therapy practice in the United States.

While achieving a passing score is essential, you should aim for a higher score. A high score demonstrates your proficiency in respiratory therapy and can also be advantageous in job applications or when pursuing advanced certifications in the field. It is very possible. Over 77% of applicants passed in 2022. 

What happens if you don’t pass the TMC exam?

If you do not pass the Therapist Multiple Choice (TMC) Exam, you will not earn the credential you attempted to achieve (CRT or RRT). However, failing the exam does not mean the end of your respiratory therapy career. 

Instead, you can retake the exam at a later date. The NBRC allows candidates to retake the TMC Exam after a waiting period of 90 days from the date of their last attempt. After three attempts, you must wait a year before retaking the exam. It is essential to take the waiting period seriously and use the time to improve your preparation and understanding of the exam.

How to prepare for the TMC exam to achieve a passing score

Preparing for the Therapist Multiple Choice (TMC) Exam is a crucial step in earning your credential as a respiratory therapist. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the TMC Exam and achieve a passing score:

  1. Understand the Exam Format: Ensure you understand the TMC Exam format before studying. The exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions divided into various content areas – 140 major questions and 20 pretest questions. The exam is computer-based and has a time limit of three hours.
  2. Review the Exam Content Outline: The NBRC provides a detailed content outline for the TMC Exam, which lists the specific topics to be covered. Use this outline as a study guide and ensure you know all the topics.
  3. Use Study Materials: There are many study materials available to help you prepare for the TMC Exam, including review books, online courses, and practice exams. Consider investing in one or more of these resources to help you focus your studying and identify areas where you need to improve. You can also register for a unique study plan here.
  4. Practice Time Management: Time management is critical on the TMC Exam, as you have limited time to answer 160 questions. Practice pacing yourself during your study sessions and practice exams to ensure that you can answer questions efficiently and effectively within the time limit.
  5. Take Practice Exams: Taking practice exams is one of the most effective ways to prepare for the TMC Exam. Practice exams help you identify areas to improve, get comfortable with the exam format, and build your confidence for test day.
  6. Stay Up-to-Date: Stay up-to-date with current respiratory therapy practices, guidelines, and regulations. Read industry publications, attend webinars, and participate in continuing education courses to expand your knowledge.
  7. Manage Stress: You need a stress-free mind to maximize your chances. Manage stress and anxiety by practicing relaxation techniques. Some include deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Taking care of your mental and physical well-being can improve your overall performance on the exam.
  8. Review Exam Day Procedures: Review the exam day procedures, such as what to bring and what to expect, to minimize surprises or stress.

Final thoughts

A passing score on the TMC exam is a critical step in becoming a certified respiratory therapist. Understanding the passing score and how it is determined is essential to plan your preparation and focus your study efforts. Remember to take breaks, stay organized, and maintain a positive attitude throughout the preparation. The rewards are worth the effort, good luck!