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How to Pass ARDMS SPI (Ultrasound Physics) the First Time: 7 Tips from Real Sonographers

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

You did it! You've graduated sonography school and now you're one step closer to becoming a registered sonographer. Now, there’s just one small hurdle to overcome before you can officially become a registered sonographer with ARDMS credentials (RDMS, RDCS, RVT and RMSKS) passing the ARDMS SPI Exam. You've studied hard in sonography school and you know your stuff, but that doesn't mean you can't learn some tips and tricks to help pass the ARDMS SPI exam on your first try. We've put together our top seven tips for passing the ARDMS SPI exam the first time.


1. Understand the ARDMS-SPI Format

The test will have 110 questions and will receive a score ranging from 300 to 700. To pass, you must score 555 or greater. The ARDMS uses criterion-referenced testing which is a style of test which uses test scores to generate a statement about the behavior that can be expected of a person with that score.

2. Don't Self-Evaluate During the Test

You shouldn't self-evaluate during tests; instead, concentrate on the questions at hand. You should answer every question. With 110 questions, this exam is all about endurance.


3. Find Ways to Manage Your Test Stress

Although it's perfectly normal to feel nervous before a test, some students suffer from debilitating test anxiety. Symptoms such as a fast heartbeat, headache, or nausea may accompany racing thoughts, inability to concentrate, or feelings of dread. No matter if it's the SPI or abdomen exam, test anxiety can derail weeks and months of hard work. Test anxiety is a real thing, but you made it through ultrasound school, Prepry can help you feel confident that you are prepared, and have mastered key concepts. Even if you don’t typically have test anxiety, there is a chance that you will be nervous just from the pressure of such an important test.

There are a couple key ways to keep stress at a minimum.

  • Be prepared. If you feel confident that you’ve prepped thoroughly, you’ll feel more confident walking into the test. Need help reviewing tough concepts or question types? Prepry can provide that extra boost you need to feel cool and collected.

  • First, prepare for the exam seriously but don’t make studying your life. It’s important to still keep a balance in the weeks and months leading up to the exam.

  • Allot time in your days for exercise, proper sleep, and whatever you do for fun! By keeping a balance, your mind won’t build up the test moment to anything bigger than it actually is.

  • Get a good night’s sleep. It's never a good idea to cram. Pulling an all-nighter can only make your nerves worse. A good night's sleep (8 hours) is more useful than cramming until dawn.

  • Focus on calm breathing and positive thoughts. This method can slow down your heart and racing mind, so it's a good idea to practice it at home. By concentrating on breathing and thinking, one can biometrically alter their anxious feelings.

4. Know Your SPI Study Style

We all have slightly different learning styles, and you probably know yours by now. Make sure you tailor your studying to what works for you!

  • If you understand concepts well with visuals, draw out rough sketches of probe components or sound waves

  • If you are an auditory learner, there are plenty of YouTube lectures online and podcasts that cover SPI.

  • If you learn best through discussion, be sure to create a study group to talk through concepts together.

As a general rule, using mnemonic devices help most students with harder to learn concepts. Don’t just reread, rewrite, and copy old notes. Try connecting concepts. Think about what you are learning from a holistic approach and relate it to clinical experiences you had in school.

5. Make a Study Plan

Commit to the preparation that the test deserves. Go into studying with a plan, here is an example:

  • Plan days to study. Set a schedule including which days of the week you will study, which days you will take off, and which you will use to take practice exams.

  • Make a goal before each study session. Maybe it’s to do x amount of practice questions, or master x specific content topic, but be intentional.

Studying without a plan is a waste of your time and won’t ultimately help you pass the SPI. It’s not about the hours you put in, it’s about how you use them.

This is one exam you can absolutely not cram for – the SPI is a holistic test model that aims to test knowledge gained over the course of years, not days.

6. Prepare for Exam Day

  • Be sure to sleep well the week before the exam.

  • Arrive early to the testing center, prepared with necessary documents for testing.

  • Put gas in your car the night before.

  • Don't study or cram the day before you take the SPI.

  • Take the morning before the test to calm your mind. Focus on something that helps you stay grounded – cooking a nice breakfast, listening to music, going on a run, whatever works for you.

  • Set multiple reliable alarms.

  • If you tend to get cold, bring layers of clothing. In order to feel comfortable and prepared for the exam, you should control your environment as much as possible.

  • Consider your usual preference for testing time when scheduling your exam. Those who prefer the morning should take the test early in the day. Schedule your exam for the afternoon if you like lazy mornings and sleeping in.



7. Believe in Yourself

Most importantly, believe in yourself. You deserve to pass and you have already proven your potential as a sonographer by graduating sonography school. You are on your exciting and new journey to being a Registered Sonographer – so congratulations!



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