At the start of this page, you’ll find a button that unlocks full access to the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) practice test. Right below it, an opportunity awaits to explore a comprehensive practice test tailored for thorough revision. These tests serve as crucial tools for demonstrating your skills, pinpointing areas for improvement, and refining your study strategy.

To enhance your preparation further, particularly in areas requiring additional attention, we’ve crafted specialized quizzes. These quizzes have been carefully developed to target particular aspects of the EMT exam, ensuring a concentrated and efficient study experience.

Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Domain Exams

The Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam is a comprehensive test designed to assess the knowledge and skills of individuals aiming to become certified surgical technologists. The exam is structured around several key domains, each covering specific aspects of surgical technology. 

Below is a breakdown of these domains:

Domain 1: Preoperative Preparation

  • Number of Questions: 18 questions
  • Focus Areas: Patient care and safety, including patient assessment and preparation, creation, and maintenance of sterile fields, and understanding of surgical procedures and special considerations.
  • Importance: Essential for ensuring patient safety and readiness for surgery.

Welcome to your CST Domain 1: Preoperative Preparation

Domain 2: Intraoperative Procedures

  • Number of Questions: 61 questions
  • Focus Areas: Instrumentation setup, provision of instruments and supplies during surgery, ensuring sterility in the operating room, and assisting the surgical team as needed.
  • Importance: Core to the surgical technologist role, requiring a thorough understanding of surgical procedures and the ability to anticipate the needs of the surgical team.

Welcome to your CST Domain 2: Intraoperative Procedures

Domain 3: Postoperative Procedures

  • Number of Questions: 12 questions
  • Focus Areas: Patient care post-surgery, including dressing application, patient transfer, and equipment handling.
  • Importance: Vital for patient recovery and the successful completion of the surgical procedure.

Welcome to your CST Domain 3: Postoperative Procedures

Domain 4: Administrative and Personnel

  • Number of Questions: 9 questions
  • Focus Areas: Understanding of hospital organization, patient rights, professional ethics, and the roles of various team members.
  • Importance: Ensures efficient and ethical operation within the surgical environment.

Welcome to your CST Domain 4: Administrative and Personnel

Domain 5: Equipment Sterilization and Maintenance

  • Number of Questions: 17 questions.
  • Focus Areas: Knowledge of sterilization techniques, care, and maintenance of surgical instruments and equipment.
  • Importance: Critical for preventing infection and ensuring the safety of both patients and healthcare workers.

Welcome to your cst Domain 5: Equipment Sterilization and Maintenance

Domain 6: Anatomy and Physiology

  • Number of Questions: 20 questions
  • Focus Areas: Understanding of human anatomy and physiology, with a focus on systems relevant to surgical procedures.
  • Importance: Fundamental for understanding the surgical procedures and the impact on the human body.

Welcome to your CST Domain 6: Anatomy and Physiology

Domain 7: Microbiology

  • Number of Questions: 6 questions
  • Focus Areas: Basic principles of microbiology, infection control, and prevention strategies.
  • Importance: Essential for maintaining a sterile environment and preventing postoperative infections.

Welcome to your CST Domain 7: Microbiology

Domain 8: Surgical Pharmacology

  • Number of Questions: 7 questions
  • Focus Areas: Understanding of pharmacology as it relates to surgery, including medication administration, action, and effect.
  • Importance: Important for managing patient responses to drugs and potential interactions during the surgical process.

Welcome to your CST Domain 8: Surgical Pharmacology

Exam Domain# of QuestionsImportance
Preoperative Preparation18Essential for ensuring patient safety and readiness for surgery.
Intraoperative Procedures61Core to the surgical technologist role.
Postoperative Procedures12Vital for patient recovery.
Administrative and Personnel9Ensures efficient and ethical operation.
Equipment Sterilization and Maintenance17Critical for preventing infection.
Anatomy and Physiology20Fundamental for understanding the surgical procedures.
Microbiology6Essential for maintaining a sterile environment.
Surgical Pharmacology7Important for managing patient responses to drugs.

Additional Insights:

  • Exam Format: The CST exam is typically a multiple-choice exam, conducted in a computer-based format.
  • Preparation: Candidates are advised to thoroughly review study materials, participate in study groups, and complete practice exams. Resources include textbooks, online courses, and review seminars offered by professional organizations.
  • Eligibility: Requirements for taking the CST exam include completion of an accredited surgical technology program or equivalent professional experience.

Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Exam Breakdown

The Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Exam is a comprehensive and critical certification for professionals working in the surgical technology field. Administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), this exam is designed to assess the knowledge and skills necessary to provide competent care in the operating room. Earning the CST credential signifies that a surgical technologist has met the national standard for knowledge that underpins professional practice in the surgical environment.

Exam Breakdown:

  • Content Areas: The CST Exam covers a wide range of topics crucial to surgical technology. These include but are not limited to the pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative phases of surgery, as well as additional responsibilities such as administrative and personnel, equipment sterilization and maintenance, and basic science knowledge relevant to surgery.
  • Format: The exam typically consists of multiple-choice questions, covering both theoretical knowledge and practical applications in surgical technology.
  • Eligibility: Candidates must have completed an accredited surgical technology program or have equivalent educational and professional experience as outlined by the NBSTSA.
  • Application Process: Candidates must apply to take the exam through the NBSTSA, meeting all the eligibility requirements and paying any applicable fees.

Earning the CST credential is a significant step in a surgical technologist’s career, demonstrating a commitment to excellence and adherence to the highest standards of patient care in the operating room. While the resources listed above are a good starting point, candidates should engage in comprehensive study and preparation to ensure success on the exam.

How to Become CST Certified

To become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), you’ll need to follow a series of steps, which include completing your education, gaining clinical experience, and passing a certification exam. Here’s a detailed outline of the process:

  1. Educational Requirements: Start by enrolling in an accredited surgical technology program, which can be found at community colleges, vocational schools, and some universities. These programs typically range from 9 to 24 months and cover essential topics like surgical techniques, infection control, and anatomy. Make sure the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)​​.
  2. Clinical Experience: Part of your education will include clinical rotations, where you gain hands-on experience in the operating room. This phase is crucial for applying your learned skills in real-world scenarios, assisting in surgeries, and understanding the workflow of surgical procedures​​.
  3. Certification: After completing your education and clinical experience, you’ll be eligible to take the Certified Surgical Technologist exam through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Preparation for the exam is key, as it covers a broad range of knowledge. Utilize study materials, practice exams, and review courses to prepare. The exam itself consists of 175 questions, with a passing score requiring you to correctly answer a specific number of questions​​​​.
  4. State Requirements and Licensing: Some states have additional requirements for surgical technologists, including state-specific licensing or additional certifications. Check the regulations in your state to ensure you meet all the necessary criteria​​.
  5. Continuing Education: To maintain your CST certification, you’ll need to engage in continuing education and possibly retake the certification exam or meet other renewal criteria set by the NBSTSA. This ensures that you stay up-to-date with the latest surgical technologies and practices​​.

Our Experience Teaching Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Candidates To Pass The Exam

At Career Employer, the creation of our Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) practice tests has been an extraordinary adventure, filled with both triumphs and obstacles. Our drive was fueled by the exam’s extensive range of topics, aiming to meet the distinct needs of our learners.

We’ve meticulously designed every facet of our approach to guarantee that each student is thoroughly equipped to succeed in the exam. Our pledge to deliver an all-encompassing educational journey is evident in the vast coverage and detailed precision of our practice materials, underscoring our unwavering dedication to our students’ achievements.

Teaching Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification courses from a lecturer’s perspective involves a multifaceted approach to ensure students are thoroughly prepared for their roles in the operating room. Here’s an overview of the key aspects, challenges, and resources involved in teaching CST certification courses.

Core Components

  1. Surgical Knowledge:
    • Anatomy and Physiology: Understanding the human body’s structure and function is foundational.
    • Surgical Procedures: Familiarity with common and specialized procedures is essential.
    • Sterilization Techniques: Ensuring all instruments and environments are free from microorganisms.
    • Equipment and Technology: Keeping up-to-date with the latest surgical tools and technological advancements.
  2. Practical Skills:
    • Instrument Handling: Teaching the proper use and care of surgical instruments.
    • Patient Care: Emphasizing the importance of preoperative and postoperative care.
    • Teamwork and Communication: Fostering effective communication skills within the surgical team.
  3. Simulation Training:
    • Utilizing mannequins and virtual reality setups to simulate surgical procedures, allowing students to practice in a risk-free environment.


  1. Keeping Up with Technology: Surgical technology is constantly advancing, requiring instructors to stay informed about the latest developments.
  2. Balancing Theory and Practice: Finding the right mix of theoretical knowledge and practical skills can be challenging, as both are critical for a CST’s success.
  3. Student Engagement: Engaging students who have varied learning styles and preferences requires innovative teaching strategies and flexibility.

Teaching Resources

To address these challenges and ensure a comprehensive education, lecturers can utilize a variety of resources:

  1. Professional Organizations:
    • The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST): Offers educational materials, guidelines, and the latest news in the field.
    • The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA): Provides certification information, study materials, and practice exams.
  2. Educational Material Providers: Textbook publishers and online platforms offer up-to-date textbooks, interactive modules, and video tutorials covering essential CST topics.
  3. Technology Vendors: Companies specializing in medical equipment and simulation technology can provide demos, workshops, and training sessions on the latest surgical technologies.
  4. Peer Networks: Online forums and professional networks allow educators to share teaching strategies, resources, and advice with peers worldwide.

At Career Employer, the creation of our Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification practice tests is a collaborative effort led by a team of seasoned professionals, each with a deep reservoir of knowledge and years of experience in preparing candidates for the Certified CST exam. With their expertise, they have steered over 1000 individuals toward achieving their CST certifications, with a keen focus on addressing the specific requirements of surgical technologists.

Our team is made up of experts, each boasting over a decade of dedicated experience in the field of surgical technology. This ensures that our practice materials are not only designed by authorities in surgery but are also highly effective in preparing candidates for success in their certification endeavors. Our commitment to excellence means that users of our practice tests receive the most thorough preparation possible, setting them on a clear path to achieving their certification goals.

Effective Study Strategies and Methods

Preparing for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam requires a strategic approach to maximize your chances of success. Here’s a compilation of effective study strategies and resources drawn from reputable online sources:

  • Understand the Exam Structure: The CST exam covers various sections including anatomy and physiology, surgical procedures, sterile techniques, and patient care. It consists of 175 multiple-choice questions to be completed within 4 hours. Knowing this structure helps in focusing your study efforts on these key areas​​.
  • Review the Examination Content Outline: The NBSTSA recommends starting your preparation by reviewing the Examination Content Outline, which lists all the areas that will appear on the exam. This step is crucial for identifying areas you’re unfamiliar with for focused studying​​.
  • Utilize Study Aids and Practice Exams: Engage with various study aids like the CST Study Evaluation to identify your weak areas. Practice exams, particularly those available through the NBSTSA, are invaluable for familiarizing yourself with the exam’s format and for self-assessment​​.
  • Incorporate Books and Flashcards: Recommended books such as “Elsevier’s Surgical Technology Exam Review” provide comprehensive content review and practice questions. Flashcards, either traditional or digital, are effective for memorization and repetition of key concepts​​.
  • Daily Study and Use of Apps: Regular, daily study sessions help in retaining the vast amount of information needed for the CST exam. Utilize educational apps for practice exams and flashcards to make studying more accessible and efficient​​.
  • Create a Study Schedule: Break down the exam content into manageable sections and allocate study time accordingly. This helps ensure a well-rounded understanding of all material. Collaboration with classmates for group study can also be beneficial​​.
  • Engage with Active Learning: Beyond passive reading, engage actively with the material through the creation of flashcards, diagrams, or even teaching concepts to others. This method helps in better retention of information​​.
  • Practice Under Exam Conditions: Simulating the exam environment by practicing under timed conditions can help improve time management skills and reduce stress during the actual exam​​.
  • Utilize Online Forums and Resources: Platforms like Mometrix offer comprehensive prep courses, practice questions, flashcards, and tips for effective studying and test-taking strategies. These resources also include mobile access for flexible study options​​.
  • Plan for Test Day: Familiarize yourself with the test location, ensure you have all necessary identification, and arrive early to avoid last-minute stress. If taking the exam remotely, check your system and internet connection ahead of time to ensure everything runs smoothly​​.


Education and Training CostsVaries by institution
Application and Examination FeesUSD 190 for AST members, USD 290 for non-members
Study Materials and Practice ExamsCosts vary, Practice Exam: USD 40
Membership with ASTBenefits include reduced fees for recertification
Retake FeesSame as initial exam fee for each attempt
Additional CostsTravel, accommodation, special accommodations

The cost and process of obtaining the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) board certification involve several steps, including education, application fees, study materials, and potentially, retake fees if necessary.

  1. Education and Training Costs: The initial step towards CST certification is completing an accredited surgical technology program. Programs must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). The cost of these programs varies widely, from approximately USD 8,000 to USD 50,000, depending on the institution​​.
  2. Application and Examination Fees: For first-time applicants, the CST examination fee is USD 190 for members of the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) and USD 290 for non-members​​​​. It’s important to note that fees are non-refundable for ineligible candidates.
  3. Study Materials and Practice Exams: The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers various study aids, including a CST Practice Examination for USD 40, to help candidates prepare for the test. However, NBSTSA does not endorse or recommend any specific study materials, classes, or seminars, including their own​​. The costs of textbooks and other reference materials will vary.
  4. Membership with AST: After passing the NBSTSA CST exam, candidates can apply for membership with the AST, which offers resources to stay current in the field and reduced fees for license recertification​​.
  5. Retake Fees: Candidates may retake the exam if necessary but are limited to three attempts within a calendar year. The total testing fee, including both processing and examination fees, must be paid for each attempt​​.
  6. Additional Costs: Other potential costs include travel and accommodation for the examination site if it’s not locally available, and special accommodation fees for those requiring adjustments under the Americans with Disabilities Act​​.

In summary, the total cost for obtaining CST certification can vary significantly based on education, membership status with AST, choice of study materials, and the number of exam attempts. It’s also wise to consider ongoing costs related to maintaining certification, including continuing education and recertification fees.

Reliable Study Materials and Resources

Preparing for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification exam involves a combination of understanding the exam structure, familiarizing yourself with the content, and utilizing various study materials and resources. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you get started:

  1. NBSTSA’s Official Recommendations: The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) suggests candidates review the Examination Content Outline, understand the passing score requirements, and consult the reference list found in the candidate handbook for primary study materials. They also offer a CST Practice Examination and a new test preparation app to familiarize candidates with the exam format​​.
  2. Mometrix Test Preparation: Offers a free Certified Surgical Technologist practice test and flashcards to break down complex subjects into easily understandable concepts. It’s essential to focus on the questions you get wrong, guess on, or find difficult to improve in those areas​​.
  3. Provides 79 free review questions covering various surgical technology topics such as pre-operative preparation, intra-operative procedures, and post-operative care, among others. This resource allows candidates to study in different modes and is updated as of 2024​​.
  4. Study Guides and Books: The Surgical Technologist Certifying Exam Study Guide by Asa, endorsed by the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), includes 6 practice exams and over 1,300 practice questions that align with the NBSTSA exam content outline. It also offers techniques for preparing for the exam, studying technical material, and improving retention​​.
  5. Online Platforms and Apps: Board Vitals offers a comprehensive online practice environment with over 2050 questions, detailed explanations, full mock exams, and a 100% pass guarantee for their top tier plans. Their platform allows tracking progress through analytics and comparing performance against the national average​​.
  6. Additional Tips: BoardVitals Blog provides valuable tips, such as creating a study schedule, practicing with review questions, teaming up with classmates, focusing on flashcards, engaging with active learning, and choosing review books wisely. Completing practice exams under simulated test conditions is also recommended​​.
  7. Apps for Study: The Official NBSTSA CST Exam Prep, AST, and Appleton and Lange all offer apps for Apple and Android devices, providing practice exams that simulate the actual CST exam​​.
  8. Peterson’s: While specific details were not provided, Peterson’s offers a CST Exam Prep section that could be a valuable resource for additional practice tests and study materials​​.

Incorporating a mix of these resources into your study plan can enhance your preparation for the CST exam. Remember to focus on areas where you feel less confident and make use of practice exams to gauge your readiness. 

Tips for Exam Day

Preparing and performing well on the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam requires a well-rounded approach that encompasses both strategic study habits and practical preparations for exam day. Here’s a compilation of the best tips, gathered from various sources, to help you pass the CST exam:

Before the Exam

  • Create a Study Schedule: Familiarize yourself with the exam’s content outline which includes preoperative preparation, intraoperative procedures, and postoperative care. Break down the content into manageable sections and allocate study time accordingly​​.
  • Utilize Practice Questions: Practice exams and sample questions are crucial for understanding the exam format, question types, and for managing your time efficiently. Aim to complete as many practice questions as possible​​.
  • Study in Groups: Collaborating with classmates can help in understanding complex concepts. It provides a diverse perspective and can fill learning gaps​​.
  • Flashcards and Visual Aids: Using flashcards, diagrams, or pictures can significantly enhance your recall abilities. You can create your own flashcards or use online resources for this purpose​​.
  • Active Learning: Engage actively with the material by creating lists, drawing diagrams, and teaching concepts to others. Active engagement helps in better retention of information​​.
  • Review and Set Goals: Regularly review material, including past quizzes and assignments, to refresh your memory on key concepts. Also, setting clear goals can keep you motivated throughout your study period​​.

Exam Day Tips

  • Know the Location and Timings: Ensure you know the directions to the exam center and arrive on time. Familiarize yourself with the test-taking site beforehand to avoid any last-minute stress​​.
  • Rest Well and Eat: Getting a good night’s sleep before the exam day and eating a healthy breakfast can significantly affect your performance. Staying hydrated is also essential but remember to use the restroom before the exam​​.
  • Read Questions Carefully: Take your time to read through each question and all answer choices before making a selection. Misreading questions is a common mistake that can lead to incorrect answers​​.
  • Preparation Course and Flashcards: Consider enrolling in an online Certified Surgical Technologist Prep Course and use flashcards for reviewing complex subjects. These resources provide structured study plans, practice questions, and other study aids​​.
  • Practice Tests: Taking practice tests under timed conditions can help simulate the exam environment, which can reduce anxiety on the actual test day​​.

By incorporating these strategies into your exam preparation, you can enhance your chances of passing the CST exam. Remember, preparation is key, and utilizing a variety of resources and techniques can make a significant difference in your performance.

Post-Exam: Next Steps

After completing the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam, there are several strategies and next steps you can take to enhance your career prospects and ensure you’re fully prepared for your role in the surgical technology field. Here are some recommendations based on information from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and other educational resources:

  1. Review and Reflect: Whether you’re awaiting results or have just received them, it’s a good time to review the areas you found challenging during the exam. Resources like the Surgical Technologist Certifying Exam Study Guide, endorsed by the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), offer comprehensive review questions and practice exams. These resources can help reinforce your knowledge and identify areas for improvement​​.
  2. Understand the Process After the Exam: Knowing what comes next is crucial. For instance, it may take up to 6 weeks for the NBSTSA to process your examination application and mail your Authorization To Test (ATT) letter. If needed, you can opt for rush processing for an additional fee. This understanding helps set realistic expectations for when you might start job hunting or planning your next steps​​.
  3. Plan for Possible Retest: In case you do not pass the exam on your first try, it’s important to know that there is no waiting period to retest, allowing for immediate reapplication. However, there’s a limit to testing three times within a calendar year. Each attempt requires a new application and fee submission. Utilizing this period to further study and prepare can increase your chances of success on subsequent attempts​​.
  4. Engage with Professional Development: Explore continuous learning opportunities and professional development. The NBSTSA and AST provide resources, scholarships, and information on further certifications or specialties within surgical technology. Staying engaged with these organizations can offer networking opportunities, career advice, and up-to-date information on the surgical technology landscape​​.
  5. Career Planning: Utilize resources provided by professional organizations for career planning. The NBSTSA website offers insights into career paths, further certifications, and specialties. Additionally, engaging in forums and online communities for surgical technologists can provide real-world advice and connections that may aid in job searches and career advancement​​.


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