NRCM Contact Information
American College of Microbiology
American Society for Microbiology
1752 N Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
tel: (202) 942-9257
fax: (202) 942-9353
The exams consist of 150 multiple-choice questions.
They are computer-based and administered at testing centers worldwide.
Candidates can move forward and back through the questions while examining.
Candidates are allowed three and one-half hours in which to complete the exams. The time allotted is considered to be much greater than required for answering the questions, but the committee does not wish time constraints to be a factor in performance.
- Each question is multiple-choice with only one correct answer.
- Questions are updated and reevaluated annually. Candidates should expect to see questions on technical advances or issues that occurred during the past year.
- Questions will examine knowledge in the areas described in the exam content list for each exam.
Learn more about how a question is developed.
The certification exams of the American College of Microbiology use a criterion-referenced scoring system. This method sets a standard of performance in absolute, not relative, terms. Candidates are not graded on a curve and do not compete against each other. Instead, each candidate’s performance is measured solely against established criteria and standards. Candidates must demonstrate that they have mastered these criteria in order to pass the exam. Candidates who perform at or above the established performance standard pass the exam and are certified. Each candidate’s score is based only on the number of correct answers; there is no penalty for guessing.
Learn more about criterion-referencing, discrimination, and scoring.
The NRCM pass rate is available for 2009-2013.
Candidates not passing the exam on their initial attempt will have two additional opportunities to reexamine; thereafter, a new application will be required. Additionally, candidates must successfully reexamine within three consecutive exam cycles or their application will be withdrawn. The reexam fee is the same as the initial exam fee (i.e., $200).
Those who wish to take the SM: Biological Safety exam must meet the Specialist Microbiologist eligibility requirements.
The objective is to measure pertinent knowledge and the ability to develop, implement, and manage a comprehensive biological safety program.
Those who wish to take the SM: Pharmaceutical and Medical Device exam must meet the Specialist Microbiologist eligibility requirements.
The objective is to measure the factual knowledge, concepts, and laboratory skills needed to supervise the effective operation of a pharmaceutical and medical device microbiology testing laboratory.
Those who wish to take the RM: Pharmaceutical and Medical Device exam must meet the Registered Microbiologist or Conditional Registrant eligibility requirements.
The objective is to measure the factual knowledge, concepts, and laboratory skills needed in a pharmaceutical and medical device microbiology testing laboratory.
Those who wish to take the RM: Food Safety and Quality exam must meet the Registered Microbiologist or Conditional Registrant eligibility requirements.
The objective is to measure the factual knowledge, concepts, and laboratory skills needed in a food microbiology testing laboratory.
The American College of Microbiology and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) conjointly develop and administer certification exams in clinical microbiology at the bench and supervisory levels. Individuals must meet ASCP eligibility requirements to take the exam. Those who pass the exam are certified as a Technologist in Microbiology (M) or Specialist in Microbiology (SM) by the ASCP and are issued a certificate with both organizations' names on it. For more information, visit http://www.ascp.org/FunctionalNavigation/certification.aspx.