10 Tips for Passing Your ACLS Certification Exam

tips for passing ACLS exam

What Is Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)?

Are you preparing to get certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support? We have 10 tips to help you study so you’re well prepared to pass the ACLS certification exam.

Whether you’re a pre-med, medical student, graduate, or practicing physician, you’re required to be ACLS certified. You must also get recertified or renew your provider card regularly. These tips will help you pass this US certification exam so you can become a healthcare provider and/or practice medicine.

ACLS stands for advanced cardiovascular life support or advanced cardiac life support. It refers to the clinical algorithms used by healthcare professionals for treating urgent emergencies. Some of them include:

  • Strokes
  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Cardiovascular Emergencies

When taking the ACLS certification exam, you’re judged on various skills related to cardiac life support. Some of the topics you learn about in an ACLS training course include:

  • Strokes
  • Care Systems
  • Team Dynamics
  • Acute dysrhythmia
  • Team Communication
  • Immediate Post-Cardiac Arrest
  • Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS)
  • Recognition and Intervention of Cardiopulmonary Arrest

Who Needs to Take the ACLS Certification Exam?

Almost all healthcare providers are required to obtain ACLS certification and regular recertification. These are some of the professionals who are required to take the ACLS exam:

  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Firefighters
  • Paramedics
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)

10 Study & Test-Taking Tips to Pass the ACLS Certification Exam

If you’re a pre-med, medical student, med school graduate, or already a licensed healthcare professional, you must pass this US certification exam. Whether you’re getting certified or recertified, these tips will help you ace this test.

1. Review ACLS Case Scenarios

Throughout your career in medicine, you will encounter many cases. ACLS certification shows you have the professional skills needed to perform medical procedures related to advanced cardiac life support.

You must be able to recognize the symptoms and signs of certain situations. It’s also vital that you understand the procedures required to treat them. Make sure you review as many case scenarios as possible so you’re ready for the test.

See also: Part-Time Jobs for Medical Students

2. Memorize the ACLS Algorithms

To pass the exam, you must learn algorithms. The algorithm is a flowchart that guides you through the procedures to follow for treating certain situations. You must know these algorithms to effectively save lives as a doctor or other healthcare professional.

Start learning them early. Don’t wait until right before your test date. Some people have a hard time finding the right learning style to memorize them all. So, be sure to plan ahead and start memorizing these algorithms now:

  • Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS) Algorithm
  • Adult BLS Algorithm
  • Adult Bradycardia Algorithm
  • Adult Cardiac Arrest Algorithm
  • Adult Suspected Stroke Algorithm
  • Adult Tachycardia Algorithm
  • Immediate Post-Cardiac Arrest Care Algorithm
  • Opioid-Associated Life-Threatening Emergency Algorithm
  • Unstable Tachycardia Algorithm

3. Memorize Meds and Proper Dosages

During the ACLS exam, you’ll also be required to identify the proper medications and dosages used for certain medical situations. Giving the incorrect medication to a patient, or providing the wrong doses, could lead to a fatality.

Our savvy ACLS instructors suggest applying mnemonic devices to help you memorize these meds and dosages. Creating ACLS mnemonic flashcards will help.

See also: BLS Certification: American Heart Association CPR Study Guide

4. Know Your H’s and T’s

Use mnemonic devices to help you memorize your H’s and T’s. They are all crucial to passing the exam. These factors show that you completely understand each of these ACLS algorithms. Each one represents a possible cause of your patient’s condition.

Memorize Your H’s

  • Hypoxia
  • Hypovolemia
  • Hydrogen Ion (Acidosis)
  • Hyper or Hypokalemia (Potassium)
  • Hypothermia

Learn Your T’s

  • Toxins
  • Tension Pneumothorax
  • Tamponade (Pericardial Tamponade)
  • Thrombosis (Pulmonary Embolus)
  • Thrombosis (Acute Coronary Syndrome)

5. Understand Basic Electrocardiography

Electrocardiography (EKG or ECG) is a test that produces an electrocardiogram. An EKG measures the heartbeat’s electrical activity. The electrocardiogram requires placing electrodes on the patient’s skin to record the activity on a graph.

You must understand and properly react to the ECG to pass the ACLS certification exam. Use an ECG simulator online, check out some YouTube videos or take an ACLS exam prep course for assistance.

6. Take Multiple Practice Exams

You’ll find numerous ACLS practice exams online to help you prepare for the test. They are awesome resources for helping you see if you have weak points you need to spend more time on during ACLS prep.

Practice tests also help familiarize you with how the real test is structured. If you take an ACLS certification course, your instructor will provide you with multiple practice exams to help you prepare.

7. Skip the Hard Questions at First

When taking the ACLS test, skip over the hard questions and answer the easy ones first. This is a timed exam. So, don’t waste yours tackling questions you don’t know the answer to until the simple ones are out of the way.

Once you’ve done that, go back and deal with the difficult questions. That way, you already have the majority of the questions answered when your time is up.

Don’t get stuck trying to answer one question that’s frustrating you. This causes you to become too stressed to answer others correctly. Save those questions until the others are complete, so you’re not wasting time.

See also: 3 Types of Residents You’ll Grow to Love (or Hate) During Med School

8. Take Your Time

This test can be tricky if you don’t take your time. You must read each and every question carefully and thoroughly if you want to pass this exam. The information is very technical. So, if you’re not careful, you may misread a question and get it wrong.

9. Stay Calm

Don’t let taking this US medical certification exam to overwhelm you. If you’ve studied your medications, doses, and algorithms, you should be well prepared to pass the ACLS. So, remain calm, read each question carefully and take lots of deep breaths.

10. Take an ACLS Certification Course

If you’re in the Atlanta, Georgia area, MedSmarter offers Life-Saving Certification Courses that help you pass the test. Our ACLS course is great for certifications and ACLS renewals.

Get the training you need to pass this exam on the MedSmarter Suwanee, GA campus. All of our courses are taught by board-certified licensed physicians.

Click the link below to learn more about our ACLS certification course in the Atlanta area.

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