CST Examinations


Eligibility & Fees

Establishing Eligibility to Test

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) retains the sole authority to establish eligibility requirements and make all final decisions regarding eligibility.

Before testing, individuals must first establish eligibility by submitting the appropriate examination application form along with the correct fees. NBSTSA does not refund processing fees for ineligible candidates.

Once approved, NBSTSA provides candidates with an Authorization to Test number (ATT), and both the phone number and web address to contact the testing agency to schedule the test.

NBSTSA accepts all properly completed applications from qualified applicants regardless of the applicant’s age, sex, race, religion, marital status, disability or national origin.

For a list of Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) approved surgical technology programs go to www.caahep.org or call 727-210-2350. For a list of Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) approved surgical technology programs go to www.abhes.org or call 703-917-9503. 

Certified Surgical Technologist Eligibility Options:


Option 1


If you are . . .

Then you need the following documentation:

A current or previously certified CST.

CST Renewal Application with your current or previous certification number written in.

Click here for the online CST Renewal Application.
Click here for the CST Renewal Application.

Option 2


If you are . . .

Then you need the following documentation:

A graduate of a surgical technology program which was CAAHEP (www.caahep.org) or ABHES (www.abhes.org) accredited during your enrollment.  The websites only list currently accredited programs.  Call us at 800-707-0057 to find out about previously accredited programs or programs currently undergoing the process to become accredited.

ONE of the following: notarized letter (on institutional letterhead) from the Program Director which states your name, date of graduation and type of degree awarded, copy of graduation certificate or transcript.  Transcripts do not have to be official; however, NBSTSA reserves the right to request an official transcript.

Click here for the online CST Examination Application.
Click here for the CST Examination Application.

Option 3


If you are . . .

Then you need the following documentation:

A graduate of a military training program in surgical technology, whether it was before, during or after having CAAHEP accreditation.

ONE of the following: a copy of your DD214 (must state location of the base where program was completed), a copy of your graduation certificate from the surgical technology training program OR a smart transcript.

Click here for the online CST Examination Application.
Click here for the CST Examination Application.

Option 4

If you have on-the-job training in surgical technology or are a graduate from a surgical technology program that did not hold CAAHEP accreditation during your enrollment, the Accelerated Alternate Delivery (AAD) Pathway will take into account the previous education and experience you have to determine which classes you must take to meet the requirements of a CAAHEP accredited program.  Distance learning options are available.  Upon graduation from an AAD Program, you will have a degree that makes you eligible for the CST Examination.  Click here and choose "AAD Approved Programs List" to find a list of the schools that offer the Accelerated Alternate Delivery Pathway.  Program details may vary.  NBSTSA recommends contacting multiple schools to see which one will work best for you.


Testing Fees

First Time Test Takers

Exam Fee (AST Members)
Exam Fee (Non Members)

Current or Previous Certified Surgical Technologist Renewing Certification by Examination

Exam Fee (AST Members)
Exam Fee (Non Members)

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CST Examination Preparation & Content Outline 

The National Certifying Examination for Surgical Technologists and Surgical First Assistants covers the knowledge and skills common to competent entry-level Surgical Technologists and Surgical First Assistants in varied settings and geographical locations. NBSTSA committee members designed 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.

The following steps can help you prepare:

  • Read through the Examination Content Area Outline. (Effective August 1, 2012) All the areas listed may appear on the examination. Mark those areas with which you are not familiar or comfortable. Study those areas, or possibly attend a class or seminar. Remember the CSFA and CST examination is a broad knowledge based examination that does not test in one specific subject area or surgical specialty.

  • Read through the reference list (found in the candidate handbook). These references are the primary sources of information used when the examination questions were developed. Use these references to review and refresh your knowledge, particularly in the areas you identified as unfamiliar when you reviewed the Examination Content Area Outline. (Effective August 1, 2012)

  • Call and schedule an appointment as soon as you are ready to test to increase the chances of getting the time and date you want. Saturday appointments fill quickly.
  • Know the location of the test center, including parking areas, as well as the actual location of the test room. If necessary, call the test center facility to get directions.
  • You will need your identification for admission to the test. Prepare them the night before so there are no surprises the day of the examination.


CST Examination Content Outline (Effective August 1, 2012)

The CST Examination Content Outline can be found on pages 10-12 of the Candidate Handbook.

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CST Examination Study Evaluation

Click here to fill out the CST Examination Study Evaluation to help give you an idea of what topics to focus your study time on.

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Reference Materials

Click here to review the current Certified Surgical Technologist textbook list

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CST Practice Examinations

Take the Practice Examination, available through the NBSTSA. The cost to take the Practice Examination is $40.00.  These examinations are computer based simulations of the actual CST examinations. Candidates will receive an analysis of individual questions and performance. There are two different versions for CST (Form A and Form B) so that if you have already taken one, there is another one available.   

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How to Apply

The CST Examination Application can be submitted online or by mail. 

Click here to submit the CST Examination Application online. 

Click here to submit the CST Examination Application by mail. 

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Examination Development – CST Examination

The Examination Review Committee for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST-ERC) has the responsibility within NBSTSA for examination design and development of the national certifying examination for surgical technologists.

The CST-ERC is responsible for reviewing, editing, referencing and categorizing examination questions in accordance with Examination Content Outlines. CST-ERC members also participate in the Job Analysis survey.

The CST-ERC evaluates the examination for quality and continuity, as well as reviews statistical data on question performance. This assures the relevancy, currency and accuracy of the content of the CST examination. Professional psychometricians from Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) assist the CST-ERC in this process.

CST-ERC is composed of members representing the major geographical areas of the country to prevent regional bias on the examination. The committee consists of ten (10) professionals with the following qualifications:

  • Six (6) practicing Certified Surgical Technologists (CST)
  • Three (3) surgical technology educators from an NBSTSA recognized program;
  • One (1) Board Certified Surgeon.

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