The Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) test from HSPA (Healthcare Sterile Processing Association) is part of the CRCST certification program designed to measure and recognize entry-level technicians to certify that they are capable of providing competent services as a central service/sterile processing technician. 

The CRCST exam is one part of the overall certification process. In addition to passing the test, you must complete 400 hours of hands-on experience to be certified. That firsthand experience will play an important role in your test preparation. The CRCST test is taken on a computer at a testing center and costs $125.

IAHCSMM is now HSPA

You may be looking for an IAHCSMM practice test and only find information about HSPA practice tests. In January 2022, the IAHCSMM (International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management) was renamed HSPA (Healthcare Sterile Processing Association).

Did you know?

The CRCST exam has 150 multiple-choice questions. It covers 7 key areas of sterile processing, including cleaning, decontamination, disinfection, preparation, documentation, and sterilization. A score of 70% or higher is required to pass and take you a step further to an IAHCSMM CRCST certification.


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Icon Questions Explained White IAHCSMM CRCST Question Types Explained

The CRCST exam has 150 multiple-choice questions. It covers 7 key areas of sterile processing, including cleaning, decontamination, disinfection, preparation, documentation, and sterilization. A score of 70% or higher is required to pass and take you a step further to an IAHCSMM CRCST certification. 

CRCST Question Types Explained

The CRCST exam is a multiple-choice test, divided into 7 sections. It must be completed within 3 hours. 

TopicPercentage WeightTopics coveredApproximate number of questions
Cleaning, Decontamination & Disinfection20%1130
Preparation & Packaging20%1030
Sterilization Process20%1430
Patient Care Equipment10%815
Sterile Storage & Inventory Management10%915
Documentation and Record Maintenance10%315
Customer Relations10%215

Cleaning, Decontamination & Disinfection

In this section of the CRCST certification test, you will be given approximately 30 multiple-choice questions covering 11 different areas. The questions are designed to measure your understanding of the topic. 

The 11 topics you need to prepare for are:

  • Area Specific Safety Standards
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Temperature & Humidity of the Work Environment
  • Preparing Work Area for Decontamination
  • Quality Tests
  • Maintenance & Troubleshooting Equipment
  • Identification & Separation of Reusable & Disposable Items
  • Preparing Items for Decontamination
  • Selecting & Using Appropriate Disinfectants
  • High-Level Disinfection Process
  • Transferring Items to Preparation Area

This section covers 20% of your final score. 

Preparation & Packaging

In this section of the IAHCSMM CRCST test, you will be given approximately 30 multiple-choice questions covering 10 different areas. The questions are designed to measure your understanding of the topic.

The 10 topics you need to be ready for are:

  • Area Specific Safety Standards
  • Temperature & Humidity of the Work Environment
  • Preparing Work Area for Packaging
  • Receiving Items for Preparation
  • Inspecting Items for Cleanliness & Functionality
  • Identifying Correct Contents for Assembly
  • Assembling Contents for Packaging
  • Packaging Method
  • Labeling Method
  • Transferring Items to Appropriate Area

This section covers 20% of your final score. 

Sterilization Process

In this section of the CRCST test, you will be given approximately 30 multiple-choice questions covering 14 different areas. The questions are designed to measure your understanding of the topic.

The 14 topics you need to be ready for are:

  • Area Specific Safety Standards
  • Temperature & Humidity of the Work Environment
  • Preparing Work Area for Sterilization
  • Sterilizer Tests
  • Sterilization Methods & Cycles
  • Pre- and Post-Sterilization Package Integrity
  • Load Sterilizer
  • Operating & Monitoring Sterilization Equipment
  • Cycle Parameter Verification
  • Unloading Sterilizer
  • Test Results
  • Potential Process Failures
  • Load Control (Lot) Number
  • Documenting Sterilization Load Contents

This section covers 20% of your final score. 

Patient Care Equipment

In this section of the IAHCSMM CRCST exam, you will be given approximately 15 multiple-choice questions covering 8 different areas. The questions are designed to measure your understanding of the topic.

The 8 topics you need to prepare for are:

  • Area Specific Safety Standards
  • Temperature & Humidity of the Work Environment
  • Preparing Work Area for Distribution
  • Inspecting Equipment for Cleanliness & Functionality
  • Preparing Equipment for Distribution
  • Care & Handling
  • Distributing & Tracking Equipment

This section covers 10% of your final score. 

Sterile Storage & Inventory Management

In this section of the CRCST exam, you will be given approximately 15 multiple-choice questions covering 9 different areas. The questions are designed to measure your understanding of the topic.

The 9 topics you need to prepare for are:

  • Area Specific Safety Standards
  • Temperature & Humidity of the Work Environment
  • Preparing Work Area for Storage
  • Ordering & Inventory Replenishment
  • Receiving & Inspecting Inventory
  • TOcking & Rotating Inventory
  • Distributing Sterile & Non-Sterile Items
  • Monitoring & Tracking Items Distributed
  • Loss of Sterile Items

This section covers 10% of your final score. 

Documentation & Record Maintenance

In this section of the CRCST test, you will be given approximately 15 multiple-choice questions covering three different areas. The questions are designed to measure your understanding of the topic.

The 3 topics you need to prepare for are:

  • Record Maintenance
  • Environmental Condition Monitoring & Corrective Action
  • Employee Education, Safety & Risk Management

This section covers 10% of your final score. 

Customer Relations

In this section of the IAHCSMM CRCST test,, you will be given approximately 15 multiple-choice questions covering 2 different areas. The questions are designed to measure your understanding of the topic.

The 2 topics you need to prepare for are:

  • Customer Relations
  • Teamwork & Work Groups

This section covers 10% of your final score. 

Icon Preparation Strategies White CRCST Preparation Strategies

Passing the CRCST exam requires extensive hands-on experience, self-study, and/or taking IAHCSMM CRCST practice tests. After passing the test, you must also have either completed 400 hours of hands-on work or completed the 400-hours of service within 6 months of passing the exam to get your CRCST certification. However, if you have the experience but do not pass the CRCST test, you will not get your IAHCSMM CRCST certification. Therefore, it is vital that you push yourself to pass the test.

Considering the work experience that is required, paying attention while doing your work and not cutting corners is the most important preparation strategy. However, there are additional things you can do to supplement your knowledge and give yourself a better chance to pass the test. 

Official Courses – Purdue University offers a full course that will prepare you for the test. The Purdue course will prepare you to take the test, and they also offer an externship placement service. Purdue University charges $420 for the course, plus fees, and $300 for the externship. Passing the Purdue course will prepare you for the exam, but it does not provide the certification.

Take Online Courses – There are a number of online courses, including one offered by iPrep, that can prepare you for the CRCST test. These courses include IAHCSMM CRCST practice tests that will prepare you for the test environment. 

Self Study – The IAHCSMM’s education department has developed reference materials for study. The CS Technical Manual, 8th edition, ANSI/AAMI’s ST79, and AORN’s Guidelines for Perioperative Practice can be ordered through its website and will guide your study.

Find your Strengths and Weaknesses

After taking a CRCST practice test, you should be able to identify which areas you need to focus your study time on. This will give you a better sense of what you actually know, as opposed to just feeling confident about certain sections. 

Once you know which areas require additional focus, you need to create a study plan to strengthen areas where you need to improve. 

Practice Answering Multiple-Choice Questions

While this might seem silly, there is a skill to excelling at multiple-choice questions. You have less than a minute and a half per question, making it important that you quickly read through the questions and answer choices and make a fast determination. 

To be successful, you will need to learn how to eliminate options and make educated guesses. Find a guide that teaches these tricks and techniques. 

Icon Test Features White Test Features

The CRCST test is given at Prometric Testing Centers and can be scheduled anytime during your eligibility period that the center is open. 

Test Fast Facts (tl;dr)

  • Total of 150 questions
  • 3-hour time limit
  • There are seven sections, ranging from 15 to 30 questions
  • Every question is worth the same amount of points
  • You may not bring anything with you into the exam room
  • Passing the test requires a score of 70% or better
  • You will need to show a picture ID to take the test, and the name on the ID must match the name on the test
  • The test costs $125

Common names for the CRCST Test

While the test is commonly referred to as the CRCST, you may also see the test referred to by these alternate names:

  • CRCST Test
  • CRCST Certification Test
  • Certified Registered Central Service Technician test
  • IAHCSMM CRCST Test
  • IAHCSMM Test
  • HSPA CRCST Test

Test Eligibility Period

After submitting your application to HSPA (formerly IAHCSMM), you will receive a letter authorizing you to take the CRCST test within 90 days. That 90-day period is your test eligibility period. You can schedule a test at the Prometric Testing Center of your choice. Tests are given based on availability, and it’s recommended that you schedule your CRCST test within the first 45 days of eligibility to ensure you can reserve a seat.

Retake Policy

If you fail the CRCST test, you can retake it as often as you want until you pass. You must apply using the retake application that comes with your examination report, wait 6 weeks between attempts, and pay $125 for each attempt. 

Hands-On Requirements

As mentioned, in addition to passing the test you must have 400 hours of experience to receive your certification. Those hours are broken down as follows:

  • Decontamination – 120 hours
  • Preparing & Packaging Instruments – 120 hours
  • Sterilization and Disinfection – 96 hours
  • Storage & Distribution – 24 hours
  • Quality assurance processes – 24 hours
  • Equipment – 16 hours

Icon Results Scale & Interpretations White Results Scale and Interpretations

There are 150 questions on the HSPA CRCST test. Of those questions, 125 count toward your score, and the other 25 are unscored. The unscored questions are randomly placed throughout the test, so you need to answer all 150 questions. 

Each correct answer is worth 1 point, and you need to get a 70% score to pass. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so if you don’t know an answer, your best bet is to eliminate options and make an educated guess. 

Your CRCST test results are given at the testing center. Results appear on the screen following your completion of a survey, and a notification is emailed to you as well. When you pass the test, you receive a certification package within two weeks of completing the exam. 

If you don’t pass the test, you will receive a report and information for retesting within one week. The report goes through each topic covered by the exam, and lets you know how you performed in each section. 

This chart shows the Pass/Fail scores of CRCST test takers from 2015-2019. In 2019 the test had its highest pass rate, with 77% of test-takers passing. In contrast, the pass rate in 2016 was just 53%. Preparing for the test with as many CRCST practice tests as possible is bound to help you pass the test.

CRCST Pass Rate 2015-2019
Source: HSPA/IAHCSMM

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Icon Frequently Asked Questions White CRCST FAQs

Can I take the CRCST test before completing 400 hours of hands-on practice?

Yes, you can take the CRCST before you complete your 400 hours. However, if you have not completed your hours, you will only receive a provisional certification after passing the test. 

How many questions are on the CRCST exam?

There are 150 questions on the test. 125 questions count toward your score, and 25 questions are unscored. 

Do I need to take a formal course before taking the CRCST?

No, you don’t need to take any type of course. However, taking a course with practice tests will help you prepare for test day and give you a better chance at passing on your first attempt. 

Which agencies recognize the CRCST certification?

CRCST Certification is awarded by HSPA (formerly IAHCSMM) and is recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

What are the requirements for taking the CRCST exam?

For full certification, you must provide a supervisor’s documentation that you have completed 400 hours of hands-on training when you apply for the test. For provisional certification, you can take the test without any documentation, but you must provide documentation for 400 hours of hands-on training within 6 months of taking the test. If you do not do so, you will need to take the test again.

What is a passing score on the CRCST test?

You will need a 70% to pass the test. 

If I fail the CRCST, can I take it again? 

Yes, you can retake the CRCST as often as you need until you pass. However, you need to wait 6 weeks between each test and pay $125 for each test. 

How can I prepare for the CRCST test?

Hands-on practice is the best way to prepare. You can supplement that with IAHCSMM practice tests and online courses, such as those offered by iPrep. 

What topics are included in the CRCST test?

There are seven main areas where you will be tested on. They are:
– Cleaning, Decontamination & Disinfection
– Preparation & Packaging
– Sterilization Process
– Patient Care Equipment
– Sterile Storage & Inventory Management
– Documentation and Record Maintenance
– Customer Relations

Can I bring anything with me to the CRCST Testing Room?

Before taking the test you will be required to pass through a metal detector. The only items you are allowed to have with you are your picture ID and a key to the locker that is available to you at the Prometric Testing Center.

Can I skip questions and come back to them later on?

Yes, the navigation within the CRCST test allows you to come back to questions that you skipped. 

How quickly will I find out if I passed the test?

Upon completing the CRCST test, you will be asked to answer a survey. Your results will be on the screen once the survey is complete.

Icon Tips White CCAT Test Tips

Follow these tips to improve your results.

  1. Carefully read each question – Read every question carefully. Scan the information for the relevant data and use it to find the right answer. Read through the question and your answer a second time before clicking the Next button.
  2. Pace yourself – Remember, you have 72 seconds for each question. However, if something is taking too long, move on to the next question.
  3. Take educated guesses – If you don’t know an answer, try to eliminate wrong answers to give yourself a better chance at guessing right. You don’t lose points for wrong answers. 
  4. Answer as many questions correctly as you can – But don’t stress over scoring a perfect 100%. You only need 70% correct. There’s no penalty for wrong answers, so even a guess is better than no answer at all.
  5. Plan and practice – Create a study plan and take as many CRCST practice tests as possible. The more familiar you get with the test, the fewer surprises you’ll find on test day.

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  • Test Location: CRCST tests are given at Prometric Testing Centers
  • Test Schedule: Once you apply and are approved to take the CRCST, you can schedule it at your convenience during your 90-day eligibility period. 
  • Test Format: Multiple-choice taken on a computer.
  • Test Materials: Taken on a computer. You may not use any additional materials.
  • Cost: The test costs $125
  • Retake Policy:  You can take the CRCST test as many times as required. However, each test costs $125, and you must wait 6 weeks between attempts. 

Free CRCST Practice


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The CRCST test was developed by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM) group, which was renamed in 2022 as HSPA (Healthcare Sterile Processing Association). It is one of several certifications offered by the organization. Other certifications are CIS, CEER, CHL, and CCSVP.

Disclaimer – All the information and prep materials on iPrep are genuine and were created for tutoring purposes. iPrep is not affiliated with HSPA (IAHCSMM), Prometric Testing Centers, or any other company mentioned.

Get to know what the IAHCSMM CRCST test will be like by practicing with these sample questions: