Why Sleep Techs Fail the Boards
The boards are a test to measure for minimal competency. That means that if you pass it you have the basic knowledge to be a sleep technologist. This is important for any lab who wants to hire you. The issue is that the questions are not based on what you do in the lab but on the rules that are set up by the American Association of Sleep Medicine (AAASM) and American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST) best practices. That means that you will need to study the correct information to be successful in passing the boards.
The first thing you should do is go to BRPT.org and download the blueprint for the test. This will tell you exactly what is on the test. It will also let you know how many questions on each topic there is. Use this as a study guide. As you study a specific topic check it off on the list. You will see that some areas have more questions than other areas. This gives you an idea how much time to spend on each topic.
The scoring manual and the scoring rules were designed by the AASM using research and consensus to create the rules. You need to memorize them, including the page with all the filter settings. These are the rules and only correct answer; how your lab performs the study may not match these criteria. Staging and scoring studies is a large part of the test. If your job does not have you scoring ask your scoring tech to review some scoring you have done. You cannot take the test and pass if you do not score. Even if you are scoring 200 epochs a night you should take the time because it will help you pass the test.
Titration is another area of high failure on the boards. The reason is that the AASM’s criterion usually does not match the lab’s criteria for titration. It is essential that you read the AASM guidelines that are available for free. The change in pressure is always 1cm. The minimum wait time between pressure changes is 5 minutes. The number of apneas, hypopneas, RERAs and snoring needs to be memorized.
I know that test taking is difficult or that you feel you have been an excellent tech for years and know what you are doing; however the test is based on the perfect patient in the perfect environment and not what you do in the lab. If you keep this in mind when you are studying you will be a Registered Technologist in no time.