Preparing Your Students


The CST and CSFA Examinations cover the knowledge and skills common to competent entry-level surgical technologists and surgical first assistants in varied settings and geographical locations within the United States. NBSTSA committee members design the examinations to assess the skills that comprise the core body of knowledge for all surgical technologists and surgical first assistants. The CST and CSFA Examinations examine practical knowledge and one night of studying will not lead to passing grades.

CST and CSFA Examination Content Area Outlines

All the areas listed may appear on the examination, which is a broad, knowledge-based exam that does not test in one specific subject area or surgical specialty. Your students will need to know about specialties that they may not have been able to experience during the clinical portion of their training. The outline is the best guide for knowing what to study.

CST and CSFA Examination Study Evaluations

The Study Evaluation breaks down the number of questions in each section of the exam and asks candidates to think about their skills and knowledge to assign a level of competency score for themselves in each section. You may want to have your students fill it out periodically to help them see where they are improving and where they still need to spend more time studying.

CST and CSFA Reference Materials

This is the list of references used by the committee members to help create the exam questions. Students do not necessarily need to purchase them all in order to pass the exam. You will notice that there is no study guide on this list. Study guides may be useful study tools; however, NBSTSA does not recommend making a study guide the only focus of study. Students using study guides should be sure to supplement and cover all the material listed on the Examination Content Area Outline.

CST and CSFA Practice Examinations

The CST and CSFA Practice Examinations follow the same outlines as the real exam and will give students the best representation of what it will be like.  Two vouchers for free practice exams are distributed to each program at the beginning of the test form year, which begins on August 1st of each year.  Without a voucher, the cost of the practice exam is $40 each, and there are two different versions for CST (Form A and Form B) and one for CSFA.  Candidates may log in and out of the practice exam for 30 days from the date of purchase, but may only grade it one time, at which time they will receive an analysis of individual questions and performance and be able to print it out for further review. Click here to purchase or use a voucher for the Practice Examination.