The NREMT Cut Me Off After 70 Questions! Did I pass?

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How The NREMT Exam Scores Candidates

So you’re about to take the NREMT, but are confused about how it’s scored? What do you mean there’s not a certain number of questions I need to get right?! You’ve come to the right place: that is, a (marginally) technical overview of how the test works.

Hopefully, your instructor talked with you about what “adaptive” testing means. If not, or if you’re still confused, read on. In a standard (pencil-and-paper) exam, you’re usually graded by percentage:

Number of Questions Correct / Total Questions = Score (%)

Other exams, like the SAT, use a slightly different scoring system which may include a penalty for each wrong answer (e.g., 0.25 points). The NREMT does not do this, per se.

In adaptive testing (CAT), the difficulty of the test adapts to your performance, or your perceived ability. In other words, the NREMT will appear challenging to everyone who takes it. The NREMT isn’t based on the number of questions answered correctly (or the number answered incorrectly for that matter). It’s all based on whether or not it perceives you as entry-level competent.

The scoring starts off with a metaphorical “bar” (as in “raising the bar”). This is the level that entry-level competent EMT’s are supposed to perform to, and is the standard against which you’ll be evaluated during the written exam. Since I don’t know exactly how the NREMT does it, I’ll make up a hypothetical system here:

Level 1 – Knowledge Questions.
Level 2 – Comprehension Questions.
Level 3 – Application Questions
Level 4 – Analysis/Synthesis
Level 5 – Synthesis/Evaluation Questions

And now, a chart!

NREMT Adaptive Test - Illustration

Again, this doesn’t represent their actual scoring system. It’s just an illustration of the concept.

Both students start out with an “average” question. Student one answers correctly, and gets a “level 4” question. After answering that correctly, he gets a “level 5” question wrong, so he gets bumped down to “level 4”. He gets the next “level 4” question correct, and moves up to “level 5”, and so on.

Student #1 passes the test, because he “stayed above the line” (level ‘3’) for most of the test.

Student #2 gets the first question wrong, so the computer gives him an easier question. He gets this one wrong, too. The test gives him an even easier question, which he gets correct, and moves back up to level 2. He eventually starts getting anwers correct, and he is presented with more challenging questions. Despite a strong finish, he stayed “below the line”, and will probably have to re-test.

Remember: these numbers and the progression from question to question is not exact. It’s just an illustration of the concept.

How Good is “Good Enough”?

The NREMT requires a 95% confidence level. This means that the computer has to be 95% sure that you are “entry-level competent” before it will pass you. It will keep presenting you with questions (with difficulty adjusted as described above) until it is 95% sure that you know your stuff. On the other hand, the test can also end early if it is 95% sure that you are below “entry-level competent”.

Also, be aware that you have to pass each section with a 95% CI. I’m sure you’ve heard of folks who have failed because of one category. Logically, the fewer questions there are in the section, the tighter your margin of error is. From people that I’ve talked to, it’s not uncommon to have only 3-4 pediatric questions, if you get them all correct. That’s probably what saved me on my exam!

The NREMT Exam Shut Off at 70 Questions! What Does That Mean?!

Your NREMT exam just finished much quicker than you had expected. “They haven’t even asked me about that stupid Parkland fomula my instructors said to memorize. It must be coming up soon!” you thought, but then the exam unceremoniously terminates.

But it won’t tell you that it’s made up its mind.

The good news is this:

From most people that I’ve talked to, people who get cut off early end up passing. The people who come close to maxing out the questions are the ones that failed. But why?

Someone who consistently answers questions wrong (let’s take the extreme case of someone simply guessing on each question). That person is going to get at least a few questions correct. They’re going to go back and forth around that metaphorical bar, and the computer won’t reach 95% confidence. It’ll keep throwing questions out there until it either reaches the 95% confidence or it runs out of questions. Generally speaking, the more questions you get, the more the computer was initially uncertain about whether to pass or fail you. You were right on the line the whole time. That being said, I’ve talked to several people who have had tons of questions on their NREMT exam and ended up passing. They just happened to have a strong finish, compared to someone else who was right on the edge and got a few of those “we never even covered this in class!” questions.

Case-in-point: If you ended the test in relatively few questions, chances are that you passed. Beyond that, it’s just a wild guess. There’s no point in stressing out over it – spend this time enjoying being done with Paramedic class! (You can always retest later!)

How Many Questions Are On the NREMT? How Long Will I Have?

This data is available on the NREMT website (see below). Note that the EMT-Intermediate (99) exam is a ‘normal’ test, not CAT. You can apply for accomidations under the ADA, which may allow you to have “time and a half” for the test. See the links below for more information.

Number of NREMT Test Questions by Exam

Exam # Questions Max Time (hrs)
Emergency Medical Responder (NREMR) 80-110 1:45
EMT-Basic (NREMT) 70-120 2:00
Advanced EMT (NRAEMT) 135 2:15
EMT-Paramedic 80-150 2:30

Source: http://www.nremt.org/nremt/EMTServices/certpolproc.asp

Exam Categories by Percentage

Exam Content (%) EMR EMT EMT-I (85) EMT-I (99) AEMT Paramedic
Airway, Respiration & Ventilation 17-21% 17-21% 17-21% 17-21% 17-21% 17-21%
Cardiology & Resuscitation 16-20% 16-20% 16-20% 16-20% 17-21% 17-21%
Trauma 19-23% 19-23% 19-23% 19-23% 18-22% 18-22%
Medical, OB/Gyn. 27-31% 27-31% 26-30% 26-30% 26-30% 26-30%
Operations 11-15% 12-16% 12-16% 12-16% 12-16% 12-16%

Source: https://www.nremt.org/nremt/about/exam_development.asp

How long until I get my NREMT results?!?

So, you just took the NREMT exam. If you’re like most candidates, it was probably within the past hour. The anticipation is killing you. It’s a computer-based test for chrissakes! Why can’t they just grade it already?!? Why won’t I get to the point and just give you the answer?!?

Assuming your check and application were filled out correctly, your “written” results should be on the NREMT website within 1-2 business days. (If you want to reduce your stress levels, don’t take the exam on a Friday!) The NREMT is usually pretty quick about getting results online. You’ll get your shiny new card in the mail in a week or two.

References/Resources

The NREMT Cut Me Off After 70 Questions! Did I pass?

101 thoughts on “The NREMT Cut Me Off After 70 Questions! Did I pass?

  1. Baker says:

    I passed with 70 questions in 1/2 hour and a friend passed with 70 also but took about an hour. And do NOT take test on Friday unless you are willing to chill for the weekend as results will not come until at least Monday morning. Even though
    I was confident I oassed, I was a bit anxious waiting for official results.

    1. Hannah Bork says:

      I just took the test, really nervous & feel like I didn’t pass. Now I have to wait for the results. I only had 70 questions. I’m really anxious.

  2. helen bowdine says:

    this test should be declared illegal. there are between 120 and 140 questions but the test randomly selects people to either cut them off or let them through. the longer you test the better your chances of passing. of course. the more opportunity you have the better your score. they have supposedly created a “guessing” system that can “guess” after a certain percentage of questions whether you have passed or not. this is mind reading as there is no way to tell which question a test taker may get right or wrong. actually, it is al about earning money. they create an incentive to fail you so they can charge you exam fees and “remedial” training after 6 months in school. all of this for a $9 an hour job driving an ambulance. and they wonder why no one wants the job? just go straight to nursing or med tech and forego the prognosticating psychic exams. sounds like witchcraft to me.

    1. Baker says:

      Unfortunately, you are completely off base about how the exam works. I do think the test is too expensive.

    2. Becky says:

      I agree
      2 answers are wrong
      2 are right
      Which is the most right is a matter of opinion. And what might be right for one patient may not be right for the next patient with the same chief complaint.

    3. Asi says:

      Hey, just wanted to inform you that the exam to become a computer adaptive test too. So if you can’t pass this or feel its a scam, don’t waste your time on nursing either.

    4. BMTEMT says:

      The NCLEX is on the CAT form, as well. It also costs nearly $300 to take. I don’t think the NREMT is that expensive compared to that. It sucks that you live in an area where EMTs are only paid $9/hour and just drive the ambulance, that’s not the case where I live, though.

  3. Steven Melone says:

    Great site, great information. I did my EMT-I upgrade to EMT-P and just took the written. I was never informed on how the test works and this site provided some really good insight. Thanks!

  4. George A. Hoffman says:

    My son took the NREMT Exam yesterday morning. Does the resusults simply say pass or fail? The computer shut off at 70 questions. He just checked for result and all it says is non certified? Does that mean the results are not reported yet?

  5. Doug W. says:

    Great information. I took my retest this morning at 8am and after 40 minutes and probably 70 questions(not sure last I looked it was 62) the computer ended my exam. The 1st time I took it, it went 138 questions 1.5 hrs and I was only above passing on one section(operations).. Lets hope I was better this time. Until reading your site I was confused. I didn’t understand why it shut me off so early, I honestly thought they shut me off to spare me the agony of trying to continue.. Fingers crossed.

    1. JC says:

      They for sure give you a minimum of 70 questions, i took the exam 2x’s and once I hit 70 and it shut off, the other i hit 120 and it shut off.

    2. BMTEMT says:

      Someone I work with got cut off before the minimum as well, she was sure that meant she totally failed but she actually passed.

  6. KT says:

    Thanks for the insight! Just took my NREMT and got cut off @ 70ish questions. Freaking. Out. Hard. Core. So as soon as I was able to get my phone back I googled it and found this page. Hope you’re right in that the majority of people who took it passed with that #. Took me about 40 min.

  7. Stephen Oglesbee says:

    I took it today and it shut me off at 70. This is the 2nd time that I have taken the exam. The last time I took it it shut me off at 80, and I didn’t pass!

  8. It shut me off at 70 today! Freaking out. The questions were a lot on medical, diseases we didn’t even touch on. Feeling deflated. I’ll let you all know what happens in a day.

  9. Kevin says:

    I got cut off below 70. I had an A in the class and passed every text. I think i failed this, in fact I know I did. I can’t understand paying for a class, working your butt off, and not even discussing a large portion of what will be in the national registry. Maybe I passed and my rant is all for not, but I’m pretty ticked right now.

  10. Hunter says:

    Does anyone recall if they answered correctly or incorrectly on the last question before the test cut them off at or around 70?

  11. B says:

    Took the full 2 hours and was at question 118 and failed. Results were posted in 3 hours. Will be retaking ASAP, if anyone had to retake please words advice would be great, a little annoyed.

    1. Deb says:

      My daughter liked the review book “Idiots Guide to EMT-B” She felt like the review questions in that guide were fairly similar to the ones on the test.

  12. myeshia says:

    I took my test yesterday for the second time and it cut me off at 70 this time…I really feel like I did okay but I still am suuuuper nervous

  13. CS says:

    Funny, everyone gets nervous and flocks to an internet posting site for advice only to not return after they get their score.

  14. WALTER SCOTT says:

    Why do I hear a lot of people say they only do good in one area that is EMS OPERATIONS that’s strange. Being earnest I think it all a bunch of bullshit. You are in class for 6 months or 3 months for EMR ALL THIS BULLSHIT FOR $11-12$ a hour that’s why it is so big demand for EMR/emt/paramedics ect…

  15. Daniel T says:

    I just finished taking my NREMT-B, it cut me off right at 70, and it took me about 35 minutes. I don’t really know how I did being that was so much stuff I hadn’t seen before! I’ll let you all know how I did, but the anxiety is gonna kill me till then.

  16. Patrick says:

    I was cut off right at 70 questions and about 35 minutes. I felt like I had to guess on a lot but I ended up passing. My classmate was cut off at 71 and passed. I also echo, don’t take it on a Friday. That was a very long weekend waiting.

  17. Taylor says:

    I was cut off at 70 questions and passed. Took my test on a Friday and had the longest weekend ever waiting for the results. Don’t do that lol

  18. Seth says:

    I took the EMT-B a week ago and it cut me off at 72 questions. I ended up passing but does anyone know how to see your performance in each section or is it just a pass fail grade?

  19. Andrew says:

    i took mine again today around 1300, it was my second attempt i got cut off at 70. the first attempt i got cut off at 120

  20. Morgan says:

    Just took my NREMT today and got cut off at 70 questions. I feel like I did well….but for me that has been misleading before.

  21. Hunter says:

    Took mine on 2/15 at 1000. I felt like the questions were NOT half of what I studied:( and it was extremely difficult. The test shut off at 70 questions exactly. My results posted at 12am on 2/16 (roughly 14 hours later) PASSSSSSSSSSSSS

  22. Sarah says:

    Took mine today at 1045 and no results.. the last question number I remember was 66 so it must have cut me off at 70. I was shocked and feel like I did horrible!!! waiting for the results is the worst.

  23. Deeker says:

    My results say Exam graded. Nothing about whether I passed or failed. I took my test last Saturday. What does this mean?

    1. Deeker says:

      OK – Just got a message from Imagetrend that my “application for certification has been approved” I passed! Seventy questions in 30 minutes, thought I missed preggers entirely, lots of questions with things I’d never heard of before, especially acronyms. Should have eaten more alphabet soup, I guess :)

  24. Holly says:

    Just took my EMT exam today at 1430 and it cut me off at 70. Lots of medical questions. Felt like I was guessing half the time. Hoping for results at midnight.

    1. Holly says:

      Passed. Fellow classmate got all the way to 120 questions and also passed. Had results by 6am Thursday. Took exam at 2:30 on a Wednesday.

  25. Carrick says:

    Just took mine at 1345 and it cut me off at 70 questions. I got top in my class and still feel like i failed it but we will see. Hoping for results at midnight!

  26. Brandon says:

    i finished my test around the upper 90s today hoping by tomorrow ill have my answer. I studied hours a day for two weeks for this test. I feel like everything i studied and study guides i used werent even close to what actually came up on the test. Felt way harder.

  27. Heather Keung says:

    I took mine on Saturday, 4/24. I was sure that I failed. It shut off at 90 questions for the EMR test. Tons of scenarios that came down to 2 good answers but of course, only one was the correct one.

    After a long agonizing weekend, I checked my score at 8:02am on Monday morning and I passed!

  28. Stefanie M O'Dell says:

    So for all of us who didnt get shut off at 70 questions DO NOT FRET! I got shut off at 114 questions which is almost maxed i took my exam on a thursday May 25th and got my results this morning Friday the 26th… I read all of these comments and was devistated after the class i went through the nerve wrecking practical exam that caused me to have a panic attack and i still passed first time and then go to this and worry myself to death because i went to 114 questions and on here some of these answers make it seem like oh wonderful the longer you went you fail…. Well i PASSED and was shut off at 114 questions so my only advice is study and take the exam as close to finishing your class as you can. You got this after all you made it through the class and practicals just calm down with these tests honestly you never know if you pass or not and i personally know someone who was shut off at 70 questions and failed so just breath and wait for your results.

  29. Zach M says:

    I love how many people here are whining about how they had 6 months to learn more and get more advice. Military combat medics have 6 weeks to learn this stuff. You all have it easy.

    1. nicky says:

      military combat medics dont put 12leads on people either. i have some combat medics in my unit that dont know near as much as all the subjects we learned in paramedic school

  30. Hannah Bork says:

    IM FREAKING OUT! just took my EMT test for the second time around 4 this afternoon & I got cut off at 70 questions. I’m so scared 🤢

  31. A says:

    Hannah I’m in the same boat – first time taking it was 4pm this afternoon, got cut off at 70 questions. I did NOT feel good about the test – very different than the way my class worked. But we’ll see. I’ll update when I hear back.

  32. Brittany Dayton says:

    Took mine today for the second time first time I took it shut off at 71 and failed this time it shut off at 120 so we will see… I feel like they need to update eaither the test or the classes we didn’t cover half the stuff of the test in class…

  33. Martha says:

    Honestly scared for my life took my 1st test today at 1000 and it cut me off at 115 hopefully i’ll know I pass on Monday. Will update and I was always the one to ask the questions and aced my final in the class1

  34. Kai says:

    First try Wednesday 2-22-17. Stopped at 70Q’s. Failed. Results two days later on Friday.

    Second try today (Tues. 7-18-17) at 1530. Stopped at 70Q’s again. Will update with results when I get it. I live in Kansas City, Missouri.

  35. Just took my first attempt at 0900 today, Saturday. Cut me off around 67 or 68 questions in about 35 mins. Not expecting my results this weekend though it would be nice. Despite all the comments on here I’m not feeling good. Lots of stuff I did not know and guessed at – syndromes I’d never heard of, specific O2 saturations in cardiac patients, trauma complications that seem overwhelmingly ALS, and the like. I’ll post results when I receive them. Good luck to all out there – this testing style is hell.

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