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Musculoskeletal Sonography Examination – MSKS | ARDMS

Thank you for your interest in the musculoskeletal sonography examination for sonographers. The information below will help you through the process of applying for the MSKS examination. If you pass the MSKS examination, then you will be awarded the RMSKS credential from ARDMS.

Please find below important information regarding the musculoskeletal sonographer examination:

Prerequisites:
Before applying, please take time to learn the basics of the ARDMS musculoskeletal ultrasound examination by reviewing the MSKS Prerequisites so you know what musculoskeletal ultrasound training and experience is required.

Important Dates: 
When to apply for the MSKS examination: July 17, 2019 – October 2, 2019*

When to take the MSKS examination: October 16, 2019 – November 13, 2019

Musculoskeletal Sonography Examination Cost
The cost for musculoskeletal ultrasound certifications for sonographers are $250 USD, which includes a $100 USD non-refundable processing fee.

If you take an ARDMS examination at an international test center (outside the U.S., Canada and Mexico), you will be charged an additional non-refundable $100 USD fee when you schedule your examination. This fee is subject to change without notice.

Question Format 
The MSKS examination is three hours and contains 170 multiple-choice questions, which include hotspot questions. The musculoskeletal ultrasound exam questions will test your knowledge that assess and measure your practical sonography skills. For MSK examination review preparation,  hotspot questions and Advanced Item Type questions are available to view as resources. The examination assesses your fundamental understanding of how to use an ultrasound probe to perform musculoskeletal ultrasound. In addition, the content areas are general anatomy and physiology, general sonographic protocols, pathology, integration of data,, and treatment. Review the Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Technical Guideline  for a more detailed content breakdown.

The MSKS examination assesses basic ultrasound-related musculoskeletal knowledge and skills. By earning the RMSKS credential, healthcare professionals gain a critical edge in promoting public safety in musculoskeletal sonography. For more detailed information regarding the document requirements, scheduling, and how to prepare, please refer to the information below.

ANSI Accreditation
The RMSKS credentialing programs​ is accredited by ANSI under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17024 Standard. The accreditation of the MSKS examination was approved by ANSI on February 12, 2019. Read the RMSKS and RMSK ANSI press release​. If you have any further questions about how to earn the RMSKS credential, please reach out to our Customer Care team at other@ARDMS.org. We hope you find this information helpful.

MSKS EXAMINATION OVERVIEW

The MSKS examination assesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities in the areas of muscles, joints, tendons ligaments and soft tissues of the body.

As a windowed examination, scores for the MSKS examination will be available approximately 60 days after the close of the administration. For more information, review the “Scoring” tab.

We periodically conduct an MSKS Job Task Analysis (JTA) and update the MSKS examination to reflect the frequency and importance of MSKS tasks being performed by Sonography Professionals.

View the results of the 2015 MSKS JTA .

The MSKS examination is three hours and contains 170 multiple-choice questions, which include hotspot questions. The hotspot questions are Advanced Item Type questions that assess and measure your practical sonography skills.

Note: The MSKS examination is only offered during select periods of the year. Refer to the “Schedule” tab for upcoming dates.

ARDMS functions under policies intended to demonstrate impartiality, high ethical standards, and validity of its certification assessments. ARDMS does not restrict Applications, Candidates or becoming a Registrant based on limiting conditions, such as membership of an association or professional society of any organization. ARDMS will not unfairly impede or inhibit access to its certification to Applicants, Candidates or Registrants who meet our stated policies regarding qualification requirements, renewal requirements and/or passing ARDMS’ psychometrically sound certification assessments.

To earn an RDMS, RDCS, RVT or RMSKS credential, you must pass the SPI examination and a corresponding specialty examination within five years, regardless of sequence. This five-year rule does not apply if you are seeking additional specialties under a credential already earned or if you have already earned a credential with the SPI examination. If you do not complete both examinations within the five-year period, you must retake the examination previously passed.

The five-year rule is based on the calendar year (January 1 through December 31). The five-year period begins the day you pass the first examination, and it includes any time that remains in that year plus the next five years. For example, a candidate who passed the first ARDMS examination on June 6, 2010, is required to pass the second examination by December 31, 2015.

You will be considered a Re-applicant for the MSKS examination if you have previously been approved to sit for it.

​To sit for the MSKS examination as a Re-applicant, submit the application and payment. Your application will automatically be approved and you will be able to schedule within a day.

You must wait until the next administration to retake the MSKS examination if you do not pass it.

MSKS PREREQUISITES

Important prerequisite change: In January 2019, the following documentation will be required:

•  Completed Third MSKS Attestation  indicating the performance and/or authorized
diagnosis of a minimum of 150 musculoskeletal ultrasound studies within the
preceding 36 months of application. Please save this form and upload it along with
any other required documentation when you apply for the MSKS examination.

To sit for the MSKS examination and earn the RMSKS credential, you must meet the requirements of the MSKS prerequisite.

Click to view the MSKS (and SPI) Prerequisites.

If you are a Re-applicant, visit the “Apply” tab and view the re-applicant information.

Important prerequisite change: In January 2019, the following documentation will be required:

•  Completed third-party attestation form  indicating the performance and/or authorized
diagnosis of a minimum of 150 musculoskeletal ultrasound studies within the
preceding 36 months of application. Please save this form and upload it along with
any other required documentation when you apply for the MSKS examination.

When applying for the MSKS examination, if your prerequisite selection requires documentation of clinical experience, please note that application letter(s) must include:

     • Copy of current valid license or active certification
• Government issued ID

The necessary supporting documentation for the MSKS examination must be received within 21 days of submitting your online application.

Please note: We do not retain application documentation received prior to receipt and payment of the online application. Any documentation received prior to the completed online application will be discarded.

APPLICATION PROCESS

The MSKS examination is a windowed examination.  Therefore, it is only offered during select periods of the year. Refer to the “Schedule” tab for upcoming dates.

Once you are ready to apply for an ARDMS examination, follow the steps below:

  1. Log in to MY ARDMS and choose the “Apply Online” option.
  2. Complete the RMSKS online application form and submit payment. If you are a first-time Applicant, you are required to choose a prerequisite under which to apply.
  3. Gather the required supporting documentation.
  4. Submit your supporting documentation for receipt within 21 days of applying online.
    Review of your application can take up to five business days from receipt of
    documentation in the office.

For more details, please visit the ARDMS How to Apply Guide . For a copy of this guide, complete the How to Apply Guide Request.

 

Once we have reviewed your information, we will email you with either an Examination Confirmation Letter (ECL) or a request for additional documentation. When you receive the ECL, you may contact Pearson VUE to schedule an examination appointment during your eligibility period. The eligibility period will be available on your ECL or you may visit the “Schedule” tab to view the current MSKS examination administration dates.

If you are found ineligible to take the examination, your application will be partially refunded (less the $100 USD processing fee per examination)

The MSKS examination fee is $250 USD, which includes a $100 USD non-refundable processing fee.

If you take an ARDMS examination at an international test center (outside the U.S., Canada and Mexico), you will be charged an additional non-refundable $100 USD fee when you schedule your examination. This fee is subject to change without notice.

 

Reimbursement Information for U.S. Armed Forces Veterans: 
Learn more about the GI Reimbursement Program for United States Armed Forces Veterans.

The application checklist is a helpful, online tool that lets you track the status of your submitted application. To view it, log into MY ARDMS  and visit “Application Checklist” from the “Application Center” drop-down menu.

Once we have reviewed your documentation, you can find out what documentation we accepted and what additional documentation we may still need by selecting “View Checklist.” If “View Checklist” is not available, it simply means we have not yet reviewed your documentation.

If you are found eligible to take an examination, we will email you an Examination Confirmation Letter (ECL) within one to two days of application approval and you will be able to schedule your appointment at that time. The ECL will also be posted to your MY ARDMS  account and will include your eligibility period to schedule and take your examination.

You will be considered a Re-applicant for the MSKS examination if you have previously been approved to sit for it.

To sit for the MSKS examination as a Re-applicant, submit the application and payment. Your application will automatically be approved and you will be able to schedule within a day.

​You must wait until the next administration to retake the MSKS examination if you do not pass it.

If you need special accommodations, please select “Yes” for “Special Accommodations” in the application and submit the following along with your completed application:
• An original copy of a letter dated within the past five years and typed on official
letterhead from a qualified physician or health care provider who specializes in the

disability. This letter must document the disability and its severity, describe the
applicant’s limitation due to the disability and state exactly what accommodations are
recommended. The letter must contain an original signature and the physician’s or
provider’s credentials.
• An original copy of a comprehensive medical evaluation/report of the diagnosed
disability from the physician or health care provider, dated within the past five years.
• A completed Americans with Disabilities Act ADA Special Accommodations Questionnaire,
which must be submitted each time you apply for an examination.

For more information, visit Americans with Disabilities Act.

SCHEDULE AN EXAMINATION

The MSKS examination is only offered during select periods of the year. See schedule below.

Application Dates for MSKS Examination MSKS Examination Administration Dates
January 16, 2019 – April 3, 2019* April 17, 2019 – May 15, 2019
July 17, 2019 – October 2, 2019*

October 16, 2019 – November 13, 2019

*NOTE: Application window closes at midnight EST.

Once your MSKS application has been approved, an Examination Confirmation Letter (ECL) will be emailed to you to schedule an examination with Pearson VUE – ARDMS’ official testing vendor. The ECL will include your eligibility period based on the set administration dates and you are encouraged to schedule promptly to ensure availability.

If you have not done so already, visit Pearson VUE to:
•    Create a Pearson VUE account
•    Search for seat availability
•    Locate a test center
•    Schedule an examination
•    Contact Pearson VUE Customer Service

If you are taking the examination at an international test center (outside the U.S., Canada and Mexico), a $100 USD non-refundable fee and Value Added Tax (VAT) will be charged by Pearson VUE. All international scheduling fees and associated VAT will be charged at the time the examination is scheduled. The fees and associated VAT are subject to change without notice, and they are non-refundable.

To reschedule the date and time of your examination during your eligibility period, you must contact Pearson VUE (1-877-258-9220) at least 96 hours prior to the scheduled examination date and time.

Please note: This is a windowed examination and extensions are not available.  You can reschedule your appointment for another time within your stated eligibility period.  However, if you cannot take it within your stated eligibility period, please follow the cancellation procedure.

To cancel an examination appointment, you must contact Pearson VUE (1-877-258-9220) and cancel the scheduled appointment no later than 96 hours prior to the scheduled examination appointment time. You will receive a cancellation email from Pearson VUE.

To request a partial refund, you must wait 24 hours after canceling the appointment with Pearson VUE and then submit a cancellation/partial refund request no later than 96 hours prior to the last date of the eligibility period.

To submit this request:
1.    Log in to your MY ARDMS account
2.    Visit the “My Examination/Application Status” under “Application Center”

3.    Select the examination you wish to request a partial refund for. ​​

4.    Complete and submit the form

We will refund your examination fee, less the $100 USD processing fee per examination, unless we receive your request too late, you never schedule your examination or you do not keep your scheduled examination appointment. Then, the entire examination and processing fees are forfeited.

Please note: This is a windowed examination and extensions are not available.  You can reschedule your appointment for another time within your stated eligibility period.  However, if you cannot take it within your stated eligibility period, please follow the cancellation procedure.

When you arrive at a test center, be prepared to:
•    Check in with a Test Center Administrator
•    Present one valid photo identification (ID); see the Test Center Identification Requirements
•    Provide a digital signature
•    Have your palm vein scanned
•    Take a test-day photograph

Note: The only thing that you can bring into the testing room is you. The test centers have lockers you can use to store personal belongings. Study materials, as well as food and drink, are prohibited in the test center. No visitors, guests, pets or children are allowed.

Important: Review ARDMS’ Examination Admission Compliance policies to ensure you are not refused admission at the test center and do not conduct unauthorized examination behavior.

Test centers will provide whiteboards for notes during the examination upon request.

If you need special accommodations, please select “Yes” for “Special Accommodations” in the application when you apply.

ABOUT THE MSKS PRACTICE TEST

Taking a practice test or two is a great way to prepare for your actual examination. We offer a Musculoskeletal Sonographer (MSKS) Practice Test that simulates the computer interface used in the actual test center environment. The MSKS practice test review is comprised of 30 sample questions and is 30 minutes long.

After you complete a practice test, you will be emailed a report that shows the number of questions you answered correctly. While the report is an indication of your knowledge, the practice tests results should not be used to predict how well you will perform on the actual examination at the test center.

See FAQs for additional information.

Each practice test costs $35 USD.

You can now register for a MSKS practice test by signing into your MY ARDMS account and clicking the Sign Up/View Practice Test option in the Application Center tab. You can also view the computer system requirements in your MY ARDMS portal. For any general questions or technical problems regarding the practice tests, please call ARDMS at (800) 541-9754 option 1 for assistance.

Before you start your test you should review the test tutorial. Please note you will not get a chance to review the test tutorial during the actual practice test, so please prepare accordingly. Once your session begins, you have 30 minutes to complete the practice test.

Register for a MSKS practice test, by signing in your MY ARDMS  account.

The MSKS examination covers the following content areas. All percentages are an approximate distribution of the questions across the content areas.

MSKS Content Outline (Please click on “MSKS Content Outline” for the detailed Content Outline in PDF-Printable format).

General Anatomy and Physiology [43%]

•    Abdominal Wall
•    Ankle and Foot
•    Elbow
•    Hand and Wrist
•    Hip, Groin, and Pelvis
•    Knee
•    Shoulder
•    Soft Tissue

General Sonographic Pathology [24%]

•    Abnormal Physiology

Integration of Data [10%]

•    Incorporate Outside Data
•    Report Results
•    Serial Studies

Protocols [15%]

•    Clinical Standards and Guidelines
•    Measurement Techniques
•    Imaging Instruments

Treatment [8%]

•    Interventional Procedures
•    Sonographer Role in Procedure

Please note: All percentages are approximate.

Your score report will display and include performance feedback for these content areas.

After all of your diligent preparation and hours spent studying, here are a few valuable tips to help make your examination day a success:

•    Double check that you know where the test center is before examination day and give

yourself plenty of time to get there. Remember, you MUST arrive and register at least
30 minutes before the examination begins.
•    Get a good night’s sleep before you take your examination. Being well rested and
relaxed when you take your examination will help you concentrate.
•    Bring one form of current and valid identification that complies with the test center identification           requirements.
•    Travel light. The only thing you can bring into the testing room is you. You can store
your personal belongings — your car keys, watch, smartphone, purse, backpack, etc. —

in lockers at the test center. The following items are not allowed in test centers: study
materials, food, drink, visitors/guests, pets and children.
•    Request a white board if you plan to jot down notes during the examination. Test
centers are using white boards (rather than paper) in an effort to “go green.”

Good luck!

Even though we offer practice examinations and sample questions, we do not offer study materials for our examinations – but our sister organizations do. You can find materials at:

•    Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
•    American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
•    Society for Vascular Ultrasound
•    American Society of Echocardiography

The MSKS examination features Advanced Item Types questions, which assess and measure your practical sonography skills. They include hotspot questions in which you will receive questions about individual images. You will use the cursor to mark the correct answer directly on the image.

Watch ARDMS Presents: How to Answer a Hotspot Question.

HOW IS THE MSKS EXAMINATION SCORED?

The MSKS examination evaluates the knowledge and skills you must demonstrate as an MSKS Professional. The primary test result is a PASS or FAIL decision. In addition, you will receive a scaled score, ranging from 300 to 700. A scaled score of 555 is required to pass all ARDMS examinations.

The scaled score is not a percentage of correct answers, nor is it built on a “curve” where a certain percentage of scores would pass and a certain percentage would fail. To learn more, visit Notification of Results and Scoring.

Examination results and a full score report will be available approximately 60 days after the close of the examination administration. At that time, an email will be sent to you with instructions on how to access your score report in MY ARDMS.

Candidates receiving a confirmed passing score on all required examinations and meeting all other requirements will be awarded a certification. For information on the ARDMS’ scoring methods, visit Notification of Results and Scoring.

Candidates who do not pass are invited to re-apply.

​Examination results and a full score report will be available approximately 60 days after the close of the examination administration. At that time, an email will be sent to you with instructions on how to access your score report in MY ARDMS.

Candidates receiving a confirmed passing score on all required examinations and meeting all other requirements will be awarded a certification. For information on the ARDMS’ scoring methods, visit Notification of Results and Scoring.

Candidates who do not pass are invited to re-apply.

When submitting your ARDMS application, you consent to us releasing your examination results to your educational program.

Program Directors can receive a School Report for current programs and programs completed in the past three years. To learn more, visit School Reports.

You can request a score verification for a $35 USD fee, payable by check, money order or credit card. Score verification ensures that the computer counted the correct and incorrect answers appropriately, but it does not review the questions and answers.

You must submit the completed Exam Score Verification Form within 30 days of having taken the examination in question. The Exam Score Verification Form will be returned if incomplete, unsigned or unpaid.

When deciding whether to have your score verified, please consider that ARDMS examinations are scored electronically with a high degree of accuracy, and it is unlikely that verification will alter your original score.

ARDMS certification examinations are developed to assess the knowledge and skills necessary to practice the specialty safely and competently.

Musculoskeletal Sonographer (MSKS) is a new examination in 2015. Please find below pass rates for previous Musculoskeletal Sonographer (RMSKS) examination administrations:

2018

First-time takers: 68%
Overall: 65%

 

2017:

First-time takers: 68%

Overall: 62%

2016:

First-time takers: 60%

Overall: 58%

2015:

First-time takers: 68%

Overall: 68%