The phlebotomy certification exam will usually consist of multiple-choice questions that assess your knowledge of subjects relevant to drawing and processing samples of blood. Although drawing blood would seem to be a relatively straightforward task that could be learned in a course aimed at aspiring phlebotomists, the test will almost certainly not require you to perform a blood draw. Rather, it will determine what you know that relates in some way to the process. It will encompass human anatomy, laboratory procedures, safety precautions, cataloging and labeling of samples, and techniques for interacting with patients. You will also need to be proficient in drawing blood, but the knowledge required for the test can be learned in a variety of ways: from books, from flashcards, from sample questions, from classes, from interacting with other phlebotomists, and from simple common sense. Some of this knowledge will require intense study and careful memorization. Can you identify the layers of the human epidermis? Do you know the standard color-coding system for labeling tubes containing blood samples? The only way to know these things is from study, and you’ll want to do a great deal of studying before you take the exam. It will not be possible to bluff your way through it. Knowledge is the key.
A certain percentage of correct answers, usually 70 percent, will be required for a passing grade and certification. In many cases, the phlebotomy certification exam can be taken on a computer, and often the results will be available to you immediately, though official phlebotomy certification (usually sent to you through the mail) will only be available after the results have been processed and the official paperwork has been done. You can expect a wait of one or even two months before you have your certificate. Many testing companies offer certificates suitable for framing and pins identifying you as a Certified Phlebotomist. The test site will vary according to the organization you choose to take the phlebotomy certification exam with, but most certifying agencies have multiple sites available across the United States. Some allow testing at the same schools that teach courses in phlebotomy, so you may simply need to return to the classroom where your training has taken place. A fee will be required before you can take the test, though the amount will vary depending on the agency.
Certification is generally good for only one year, after which you will need to be recertified. This usually does not require a second exam, but it does require a certain number of course hours in continuing phlebotomy education. Recertification also requires a fee, as well as documentation of the continuing education course.