At the top of this page, you’ll find a button granting full access to the Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) practice test. Additionally, further down, a comprehensive version of the practice test for the CIS is available for you. These exams are designed to help you identify your strengths and highlight areas requiring further improvement.

We offer specialized quizzes tailored to specific aspects of the CIS exam to support your preparation in the areas you wish to concentrate on. These targeted quizzes are intended to help you focus on and enhance your understanding of the sections that need additional focus.

Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) Domain Exams

The Admission Test for Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) is a specialized examination designed for professionals in surgical instruments and sterilization processes. This exam assesses the candidate’s knowledge and skills in various critical areas related to the maintenance, preparation, and management of surgical instruments. 

Here’s a breakdown of the different exam domains.

Domain 1: Instrument identification

  • Percentage of Exam: 30%
  • Number of questions: 45
  • Focus: It tests your ability to recognize various surgical instruments and their specific purposes.

Welcome to your CIS Domain 1: Instrument identification

Domain 2: Instrument cleaning & decontamination processes

  • Percentage of Exam: 16%
  • Number of questions: 24
  • Focus: Questions in this domain assess knowledge of proper cleaning techniques, decontamination protocols, and understanding of the materials and methods used to maintain instrument sterility.

Welcome to your CIS Domain 2: Instrument cleaning and decontamination processes

Domain 3: Preparation & packaging

  • Percentage of Exam: 10%
  • Number of questions: 15
  • Focus: This area tests candidates on their understanding of the preparation of instruments for sterilization, including wrapping and packaging methods, to maintain sterility.

Welcome to your CIS Domain 3: Preparation and packaging

Domain 4: Human Factors Impacting Instrument Systems

  • Percentage of Exam: 16%
  • Number of questions: 24
  • Focus: Expect questions that explore the impact of human behavior, ergonomics, and teamwork on the effectiveness of instrument sterilization and management practices.

Welcome to your CIS Domain 4: Human factors impacting instrument systems

Domain 5: Instrument inspection, testing & assembly

  • Percentage of Exam: 15%
  • Number of questions: 22
  • Focus: Questions will likely focus on the procedures for inspecting instruments for damage, testing their functionality, and correctly assembling instrument sets for surgical procedures.

Welcome to your CIS Domain 5: Instrument inspection, testing and assembly

Domain 6: Sterilization & high-level disinfection

  • Percentage of Exam: 13%
  • Number of questions: 20
  • Focus: Candidates will be tested on their knowledge of various sterilization methods, high-level disinfection techniques, and the principles underlying these processes.

Welcome to your CIS Domain 6: Sterilization and high level disinfection

Exam Domain% of Exam# of Questions
Instrument Identification30%45
Instrument Cleaning & Decontamination Processes16%24
Preparation & Packaging10%15
Human Factors Impacting Instrument Systems16%24
Instrument Inspection, Testing & Assembly15%22
Sterilization & High-Level Disinfection13%20

Additional Important Aspects:

  • Resource Links: For preparation, it’s vital to refer to the official guidelines and study materials provided by the certifying organization. These may include textbooks, practice tests, and online resources specifically geared towards the CIS exam.
  • Exam Format: Understanding the format of the exam, including whether it’s computer-based or written, time allocations, and the types of questions (multiple choice, true/false, etc.), is crucial for effective preparation.
  • Continuing Education: Many certifying bodies require ongoing education and re-certification to ensure that Certified Instrument Specialists stay up-to-date with the latest practices and technologies in the field.

 Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) Exam Breakdown

The Admission Test for Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) Exam is a professional certification examination designed for individuals involved in the sterilization and maintenance of surgical instruments. This certification is offered by the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc. (CBSPD) or the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM), depending on the specific certification you’re referring to. The goal of the CIS certification is to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a high level of understanding, expertise, and skill in the care and maintenance of surgical instruments.

Breakdown of the CIS Exam

  • Eligibility Requirements: To sit for the CIS exam, candidates typically must have prior experience in the field of sterile processing, surgical instrument management, or a related area. This could include work experience in a hospital sterile processing department, surgical center, or similar setting.
  • Exam Content and Format: The exam covers various topics related to the cleaning, sterilization, storage, and maintenance of surgical instruments. This includes, but is not limited to, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, infection control principles, the proper handling and care of instruments, and troubleshooting common issues with surgical instruments. The format usually consists of multiple-choice questions that test both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.
  • Study Materials and Resources: Both the CBSPD and IAHCSMM offer study materials and resources to help candidates prepare for the CIS exam. This can include study guides, practice tests, textbooks, and courses designed to cover the exam content comprehensively.
  • Registration and Scheduling: Candidates must register for the exam through the respective organization’s website. This process involves completing an application, paying the examination fee, and scheduling a test date at an authorized testing center.
  • Certification Maintenance: Once certified, a Certified Instrument Specialist must maintain their certification through continuing education or re-examination, depending on the requirements of the certifying organization. This ensures that CIS professionals stay up-to-date with the latest practices and technologies in their field.

How to Become a Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS)

To become a Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS), you must follow a specific process that involves obtaining the necessary prerequisites, completing relevant coursework, and passing the CIS examination. Here’s a step-by-step guide based on information from the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA), the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM), and Central Sterilization Solutions:

  • Prerequisite Certification: Before you can take the CIS exam, you need to obtain the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification. This step is essential as the CRCST certification provides a foundation in sterile processing and must be kept current to maintain your CIS certification​​.
  • Gain Relevant Work Experience: Hands-on work experience in a Sterile Processing department is required. This experience is crucial for developing practical skills in handling, cleaning, and recognizing medical instruments, which are critical competencies for a CIS​​.
  • Enroll in a CIS Course: While not always required, enrolling in a CIS course can significantly enhance your knowledge and skills. Central Sterilization Solutions, for example, offers a 14-week virtual course one day per week, which covers the identification, inspection, and cleaning of medical instruments, among other topics. This course is designed to prepare you for the CIS exam and to excel in the sterile processing field​​.
  • Apply for the CIS Exam: After meeting the prerequisites and feeling prepared through study and experience, you can apply for the CIS exam through IAHCSMM or a similar accrediting body. Ensure your application is complete, and you have met all the specific requirements laid out by the certifying organization​​.
  • Special Accommodations: If you require special accommodations for the exam, notify the HSPA in writing at the time of your application. Accommodations are provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and can include extended testing time, large text tests, separate testing areas, and more​​.
  • Prepare for and Take the Exam: Utilize the study materials and resources provided by your course or those recommended by the certifying organization. The exam will test your knowledge and skills related to sterile processing and instrument specialization.
  • Continuing Education and Recertification: After passing the exam and becoming certified, you will need to engage in continuing education to maintain your certification. This typically involves completing a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) annually​​.

For more detailed information and to start the certification process, you should visit the official websites of the certifying organizations such as HSPA and IAHCSMM, as well as educational providers like Central Sterilization Solutions. These resources will provide you with the most current requirements, study materials, and application procedures to become a CIS.

Our Experience Teaching  Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) Candidates To Pass The Exam

Creating the CIS practice tests has been an enriching journey marked by both hurdles and triumphs. At Career Employer, our educational mission has been shaped by the diverse array of topics encompassed by the exam and the unique needs of our students, all with the shared goal of excelling in the examination. This process has not only challenged us but also rewarded us with the opportunity to support a wide range of learners on their path to success.

Teaching a Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) certification course from a lecturer’s perspective involves a comprehensive approach to delivering a curriculum that is both engaging and educational. The primary goal is to ensure that students gain a thorough understanding of the principles and practices related to the maintenance, sterilization, and handling of surgical instruments. Here are some key points from a lecturer’s perspective, including resource links where applicable:

Curriculum Development

  • Foundation of Knowledge: The curriculum should start with the basics of surgical instrumentation, including types of instruments, their uses, and the science behind sterilization processes. It’s essential to build a strong foundation before moving on to more complex topics.
  • Hands-on Training: Practical experience is crucial. Incorporating hands-on sessions where students can interact with surgical instruments and sterilization equipment helps bridge the gap between theory and practice.
  • Current Standards and Practices: The course must reflect the latest standards and best practices in instrument sterilization and care, as outlined by authoritative bodies like the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). Visit AAMI’s website for the most current guidelines.

Teaching Methods

  • Interactive Learning: Utilizing a mix of lectures, interactive discussions, and practical workshops can enhance learning outcomes. Encouraging questions and facilitating group discussions helps reinforce key concepts.
  • Use of Technology: Incorporating technology, such as virtual simulations and online resources, can provide additional learning tools. Websites like the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM) offer resources and guidelines relevant to CIS certification. Their website is IAHCSMM.
  • Assessment and Feedback: Regular assessments and feedback sessions help track progress and address any areas of difficulty. Creating a supportive environment where students feel comfortable seeking help is vital.

Resources and Further Reading

  • IAHCSMM: Provides certification details, study materials, and guidelines for instrument specialists. Their certification page is a go-to resource for both students and educators (IAHCSMM Certification).
  • AAMI: Offers publications and standards related to sterilization processes and healthcare technology, essential for staying updated on industry standards (AAMI Publications).
  • Certification Study Guides: Utilizing study guides and textbooks specifically designed for CIS certification can help structure the course content. One notable resource is the “Central Service Technical Manual” published by IAHCSMM.

Challenges and Solutions

  • Keeping Up with Changes: The field of medical instrumentation is constantly evolving. Lecturers must stay informed about the latest developments and update the course content accordingly.
  • Engaging Students: Finding ways to keep students engaged, especially with technical material, can be challenging. Incorporating real-world scenarios and case studies can make learning more relevant and interesting.
  • Resource Accessibility: Ensuring that all students have access to necessary resources, including textbooks and online materials, is crucial for equitable education. Offering a list of free or low-cost resources can be helpful.

Teaching CIS certification is both challenging and rewarding. It requires a balance of theoretical knowledge and practical skills, along with a commitment to continuous learning and adaptation. By focusing on a comprehensive curriculum, engaging teaching methods, and the use of diverse resources, lecturers can effectively prepare students for successful careers as Certified Instrument Specialists.

The expert team at Career Employer has meticulously developed this practice test for the CIS certification, drawing on their extensive knowledge and experience in CIS exam preparation. Our team has successfully guided over a thousand sterilization and maintenance of surgical instruments specialists through the official CIS certification exam.

Comprised of established sterilization and maintenance of surgical instruments specialists with over ten years of specialized experience in sterilizing surgical equipment, our team brings a wealth of expertise to this initiative. We offer multiple versions of the practice exam, each designed to cater to a variety of learning styles and preferences, ensuring comprehensive support for every student aiming for certification success.

Effective Study Strategies and Methods

Preparing for the Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) exam requires a comprehensive approach that involves both theoretical study and practical experience. Here’s a summary of effective strategies and resources to help you prepare for the exam, drawing from various sources.

Hands-On Experience

The Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA) emphasizes the importance of hands-on experience in Sterile Processing departments for understanding standards, knowledge, and practices essential for success on the CIS exam. This experience is invaluable and can be accumulated on a paid or volunteer basis. It’s crucial to have your hours documented by a department manager or supervisor who is in a position above your own, as this documentation is required for your exam application​​.

Self-Study Materials

For those preferring to study independently, HSPA recommends utilizing specific reference materials, including HSPA’s Instrument Resource Manual (1st Edition, 2018), HSPA’s CS Technical Manual (8th Edition, 2016), Rick Schultz’s The World of Surgical Instruments–The Definitive Inspection Textbook (2018), and ANSI/AAMI ST79 (2017). These materials were used as references in creating the exam and can be ordered through the HSPA Store​​.

Online Resources and Practice Tests

Utilizing online resources like The Sterile Guy, which offers CIS practice tests, flashcards, and bundle packs, can be beneficial. These resources provide a variety of study materials at different price points, catering to different areas of the exam, such as instrument identification and decontamination processes​​.

Structured Courses

Central Sterilization Solutions offers a 14-week virtual, one day per week, Certified Instrument Specialist course. This course is designed by professionals for CS professionals to stay abreast of rapidly changing medical technology and prepare for advancement and leadership in the CS field. It’s an advanced course requiring CRCST certification as a prerequisite and aims to increase proficiency in the identification, inspection, and cleaning of medical instruments​​.

Community Support and Forums

The SPD Network offers support and information for Sterile Processing professionals, including those preparing for the CIS exam. Engaging with communities of professionals through forums or networks can provide insights, tips, and support from peers who have taken the exam or are also preparing for it​​.

A Reddit user mentions how easily they passed the exam, just by answering CIS workbook questions.

Honestly, I was able to pass it without studying, it shares a lot of questions with the CRCST and CIS. 

daedaluspcmr – Reddit user

Another Quora forum user mentions that good preparation in addition to understanding the workbook of choice is key to passing the exam effortlessly. Here is what they had to say. This besides having another student to review, take quizzes, and challenge each other.

Having another student to partner with…to review, quiz and challenge each other…was very helpful for me and many students I met throughout my career.

Celeste Erickson – Quora User

YouTube Tutorials

YouTube videos, such as “How to Pass the CIS Exam! EASY!!” offer breakdowns of exam content and tips on how to effectively prepare for and pass the CIS exam. These videos can provide valuable insights into the exam structure and helpful study tips from those who have successfully passed the exam​​. He also recommends the Instrument Resource Manual – 1st Edition for CIS studies.

Combining these resources and strategies can enhance your preparation for the CIS exam. It’s important to assess your learning style and needs to choose the right combination of self-study, practical experience, and structured learning. Remember to keep your CRCST certification current, as it’s a prerequisite for taking the CIS exam.


Initial EligibilityCurrent CRCST certification + 200 hours hands-on experience
Study MaterialsSelf-study with recommended publications; costs may vary
Exam Fee$140 for initial and retake exams
Special AccommodationsAvailable for candidates with disabilities at no additional cost
Post-Exam RequirementsAnnual recertification through continuing education

The Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) board certification exam, managed by the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA), is a comprehensive process designed for Sterile Processing (SP) professionals. Here’s a breakdown of the costs and requirements associated with obtaining the CIS certification:

Initial Eligibility and Experience Requirements

Before taking the CIS exam, candidates must have current, full CRCST certification and complete 200 hours of hands-on work experience in a Sterile Processing department. This experience must be acquired within the past five years and includes specific hours in instrument decontamination, assembly, information system management, and surgery observation​​.

Study and Preparation Costs

Candidates can prepare for the CIS exam through self-study or based on their work experience. Self-study materials include HSPA’s Instrument Resource Manual (1st Edition, 2018), CS Technical Manual (8th Edition, 2016), The World of Surgical Instruments by Rick Schultz (2018), and ANSI/AAMI ST79 (2017). While HSPA provides a list of recommended study materials, candidates are responsible for purchasing these resources, and costs may vary​​.

Examination Fees

The initial exam fee for the CIS certification is $140. This fee covers the application processing and one exam attempt at a Prometric Testing Facility. If a candidate needs to retake the exam, the fee remains $140 for each additional attempt. It’s important to note that any request for cancellations or refunds must be made within 30 days of payment, and a $25 non-refundable processing fee will be deducted from the refund​​.

Special Accommodations

HSPA provides special accommodations for testing at no additional cost for candidates with a condition or disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Candidates must submit a Special Accommodations form completed by a physician or medical professional detailing the need for accommodations​​.

Post-Exam and Continuing Education

Upon passing the CIS exam, certification holders are required to recertify annually through the completion of continuing education (CE) requirements. Specific costs associated with CE credits can vary depending on the provider and the number of credits needed.

In summary, the cost of obtaining CIS certification involves the exam fee, potential study material costs, and any subsequent expenses related to maintaining certification through continuing education. Candidates should budget for these expenses and plan their study and preparation accordingly to meet all certification requirements. For detailed information and resources, visit the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association’s official website.

Reliable Study Materials and Resources

To prepare for the Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) certification exam, you have several online resources and courses at your disposal. Here’s a summary of some of the best options available:

  • Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA) offers a comprehensive approach to exam preparation, suggesting a combination of self-study and hands-on work experience. For self-study, they recommend their Instrument Resource Manual, 1st Edition (2018), CS Technical Manual, 8th Edition (2016), and other relevant texts. HSPA emphasizes the importance of gaining practical experience in a Sterile Processing department to complement your study, which is a requirement for the exam application​​.
  • The Sterile Guy provides various products tailored for the CIS exam preparation, including practice tests, flashcards, and bundle packs. These resources are designed to help candidates familiarize themselves with the exam content and format​​.
  • The SPD Network offers insights into the CIS exam, highlighting the requirements and the importance of staying updated with rapidly changing medical technology. This platform could serve as a valuable resource for networking with professionals and stay informed about the field​​.
  • Central Sterilization Solutions offers a 14-week virtual course designed to prepare CS professionals for the CIS exam. The course focuses on increasing proficiency in instrument identification, inspection, and cleaning, along with improving overall surgical instrument knowledge and skill set​​​​.
  • Sterile Education provides a 12-week CIS Certification Preparation Course specifically for those who already have CRCST certification. This online course includes live instruction, a CIS manual, photo flashcards for instrument identification, and a final exam to help prepare for the IAHCSMM certification exam​​.

Each of these resources offers a unique approach to preparing for the CIS exam, from self-study materials and practice tests to comprehensive courses. Depending on your learning style and needs, you might find one or a combination of these options to be the best fit for your preparation strategy.

Tips for Exam Day

To excel on the Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) exam day and ensure success, consider the following comprehensive approach, which incorporates insights from various sources.

Before the Exam:

  • Deep Understanding of Eligibility and Exam Structure: Ensure you have the current, full CRCST certification before taking the CIS exam. The exam measures your knowledge across areas such as instrument decontamination, assembly, and information system management. It consists of 150 multiple choice questions to be completed in three hours. Understanding the exam structure will help you manage your time effectively during the test​​.
  • Hands-On Experience: Accumulate at least 200 hours of hands-on experience in a Sterile Processing department. This experience is crucial for understanding the practical aspects of instrument sterilization and processing, and it is a requirement for sitting the exam. Focus on decontamination, assembly, and surgery observation to build a comprehensive skill set​​.

Study Materials and Preparation:

  • Self-Study vs. Work Experience: Choose between self-study using recommended reference materials (like the Instrument Resource Manual and the CS Technical Manual) and leveraging your work experience. Both approaches are valid, but a combination might offer the best of theoretical knowledge and practical understanding​​.
  • Utilize Practice Exams and Flashcards: Consider resources like The Sterile Guy, which offers practice exams and flashcards specifically designed for the CIS certification. These tools can help reinforce your knowledge and familiarize you with the exam format​​.
  • Enroll in a Comprehensive Course: If you’re looking for structured guidance, courses like the one offered by The Compass HC provide an in-depth review of surgical instruments, safety, performance outcomes, and more. This type of preparation can be particularly beneficial for filling any gaps in your knowledge and ensuring you’re ready for all aspects of the exam​​.

On the Exam Day:

  • Arrive Early: Ensure you arrive at the exam center with plenty of time to spare. This can help reduce anxiety and allow you to start the exam calmly.
  • Stay Calm and Focused: Use stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing to maintain your composure. Focus on the questions at hand and manage your time efficiently.
  • Review Marked Questions: If you’re unsure about a question, mark it and move on. Use any remaining time to review these questions.


  • Continuous Learning: Regardless of the exam outcome, continue to seek opportunities for learning and professional development within the field. The field of sterile processing is ever-evolving, and staying updated with the latest practices and technologies is crucial.

By following these guidelines and utilizing the resources mentioned, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the CIS exam and advance your career in sterile processing.

Post-Exam: Next Steps

After completing the Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) exam, the next steps can vary depending on the specific certification you’ve pursued, as the CIS exam details were not directly found in the sources. However, similar certifications provide valuable insights into post-exam strategies that can be applicable across various fields. Here are some general strategies and next steps based on information from relevant certification bodies:

  1. Review Certification Requirements and Policies: For certifications like the CIC (Certified Infection Control) and CCS-P (Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based), it’s essential to understand the certification requirements, policies, and the recertification process. The Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (CBIC) outlines detailed information about the CIC exam, including eligibility, scheduling, and recertification processes​​. Similarly, AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) provides comprehensive details about the CCS-P certification, including eligibility requirements, exam preparation, and the importance of being prepared with the correct codebooks​​.
  2. Engage in Continuous Learning and Professional Development: Continuous education is a critical component of maintaining your certification and staying updated with the latest practices in your field. Many certification bodies, including AHIMA, offer resources for exam preparation and ongoing learning opportunities to help you stay informed and skilled​​.
  3. Participate in Relevant Forums and Online Communities: Engaging with online communities and forums can provide support, insights, and networking opportunities. While the specific forums for CIS were not mentioned, similar certifications often have associated communities where professionals can share experiences, study tips, and career advice.
  4. Apply for Jobs and Utilize Career Resources: Utilizing the career resources provided by certification organizations can help you find job opportunities that match your new credentials. AHIMA, for example, offers a career assist/job board where certified professionals can search for relevant job listings and career opportunities​​.
  5. Prepare for Recertification: Understanding the recertification process is crucial to maintaining your certification status. This typically involves earning continuing education units (CEUs) or credits through various professional development activities. Each certification body has its specific requirements and timelines for recertification, so it’s important to review these details early on to plan accordingly.

While these steps are based on the information from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (CBIC) and AHIMA, they can serve as a general guide for what to do after completing certification exams in various fields. Always refer to the specific certification body’s resources and guidelines for the most accurate and detailed information.


  1. “Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS),” The SPD Network,
  2. “Certified Instrument Specialist,” Central Sterilization School,
  3. “Become Certified,” Healthcare Sterile Processing Association,
  4. “AAMI,” Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation,
  5. “International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM),”
  6. “Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) Certification Overview,” Healthcare Sterile Processing Association,
  7. “Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) Study Guide,” YouTube, uploaded by [channel name, if available],
  8. “Collections: CIS,” The Sterile Guy,
  9. “Course: Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS),” Central Sterilization School,
  10. “Product: Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS),” Central Sterilization School,
  11. “CIS Certification Preparation Course,” Sterile Education,
  12. “Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) Study Review,” The Compass Healthcare Consulting & Placement,
  13. “About the Examination,” Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc.,
  14. “CCS-P Certification Exams,” American Health Information Management Association,
  15. “Just passed my CIS a few weeks ago, now my sights are set on…,” Reddit, posted by jesushenchman,
  16. “The Sterile Guy: How to Pass the CIS Exam! EASY!!” YouTube, uploaded by The Sterile Guy,
  17. Reddit user. “Just passed my CIS a few weeks ago now my sights are on the CHL.” Reddit, 29 May 2021,
  18. “Shop Store.” Healthcare Sterile Processing Association,
  19. Erickson, Celeste. “How hard is the sterile processing tech test?” Quora,

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