Effective April 4, 2023, this exam will increase to $250.
You can now take the SPI examination online from home. Learn more!
Thank you for your interest in taking the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) examination. The ARDMS SPI exam is the first step in earning future ARDMS credentials. The SPI exam tests the requisite physical principles and instrumentation knowledge, skills and abilities essential to sonography professionals and students.
To earn an RDMS, RDCS, RVT and RMSKS credentials, you must pass the ARDMS SPI exam and a corresponding specialty examination within five years. After passing the ARDMS SPI exam, you can earn additional credentials without having to retake the SPI exam, provided you maintain active status.
You must wait 60 days before you can retake the SPI examination if you do not pass it however, you are welcome to reapply after 3 days.
SPI EXAMINATION OVERVIEW
The SPI examination assesses the knowledge, skills and abilities in the areas of clinical safety, physical principles, pulsed echo instrumentation, and quality assurance. The exam meets the fundamental physical principles and instrumentation requirements for the RDMS, RDCS, RVT and RMSKS credentials.
We periodically conduct an SPI Job Task Analysis (JTA) and update the SPI examination to reflect the frequency and importance of SPI tasks being performed by Sonography Professionals.
Click here to view the 2022 SPI Practice Analysis. Prior to 2022, a practice analysis was called a job task analysis (JTA). View the 2015 SPI JTA results.
All questions on the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) examination will fall under the domains and subdomains listed in the SPI content outline. It is essential that you review the SPI content outline to understand what will be covered in the examination. Effective September 1, 2023 there will be a new SPI content outline.
QUESTION FORMAT & DURATION
In preparation for the introduction of a redesigned SIC item, the current SIC item type has been removed from the SPI examination. Learn more about the Advanced Item Type (AIT) questions.
The SPI examination for the RDMS, RDCS, RVT and RMSKS credentials is two hours long, including a three-minute survey, and contains approximately 110 multiple-choice questions.
In order to earn the RDMS, RDCS, RVT and RMSKS credentials, the SPI examination must be taken and passed in conjunction with the corresponding specialty examination within five years. For more information on specialty examination that we offer, please visit Get Certified.
ARDMS functions under policies intended to demonstrate impartiality, high ethical standards, and validity of its certification assessments. ARDMS does not restrict Applicants, 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. 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.
Physicians can now apply under the new ARDMS physician prerequisite. Learn more!
Whether you are a student applying to take the SPI examination prior to graduation or you are a sonography professional seeking an RDMS, RDCS, RVT and RMSKS credential, you must select a prerequisite pathway that best meets your education and clinical experience and apply under that prerequisite.
If the SPI examination is the first examination you are applying for, you can choose to apply under the SPI Examination Requirement pathway or you can apply under a prerequisite. The SPI Examination Requirement just requires completion of a physics class or a physics review course (click below for specific details). However, if you can meet the requirements of an existing prerequisite (1 through 5), you are encouraged to do so as future application processing will be faster and easier.
Click to view the SPI requirements and general prerequisites.
Prerequisite Prep Tool
To earn an ARDMS credential, Applicants must choose and meet the requirements of a prerequisite. Review the Prerequisite Prep tool to help guide you through the prerequisite selection process and to select a prerequisite that best meets your education and clinical ultrasound experience.
Re-Applicant – A re-applicant is a Candidate or Registrant who has previously applied and been approved by ARDMS to take or has taken an ARDMS examination and who is applying to take another examination; this does not include an individual who has only been approved for MSKS, MW examinations and approval of the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) examination under the SPI Examination Requirement Pathway. Re-applicants should apply as such and thus this guide isn’t necessary for you.
SPI EXAMINATION FEES
Effective April 4, 2023, this exam will increase to $250.
The SPI examination fee is $225 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 $50 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.
Once you are ready to apply for an ARDMS examination, follow the steps below:
- Log in to MY ARDMS and choose the “Apply Online” option.
- Complete the online application form and submit payment. If you are a first-time applicant, you are required to select the SPI requirement or a prerequisite under which to apply.
- Gather your supporting documentation and submit at time of application
- To upload your documentation to your MY ARDMS account, click the “My Resources” tab, then “Upload Documents”. For “File Type” select “Application Documents”
For more details, please visit the ARDMS How To Apply Guide.
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.
If you are found ineligible to take the examination, your application will be partially refunded (less the $100 USD processing fee per examination).
Based on your prerequisite or requirement selection, you must submit the necessary supporting documentation at the time of your online application submission.
Please note: We will no longer retain application documentation received prior to receipt and payment of the online application.
When applying for the SPI examination, if your prerequisite selection requires documentation of clinical experience, please note that application letter(s) must:
• Be an official letter with the address and telephone number indicated
• Include the current date (mm/dd/yyyy)
• State actual dates of employment or program
• Contain original signatures (stamped and/or computer generated signatures are not
acceptable); letters cannot be signed by a relative of the applicant
• Provide a physician’s medical license number or chief sonographer’s/technologist’s ARDMS
Employment letters must indicate full-time or part-time training/experience AND must include the total number of paid clinical hours.
Program completion letters must include the total number of hours in the program and state individually, the number of didactic and clinical hours in the program.
Provided are some sample letters that may correspond with your prerequisite requirements:
Sonographer-level Sample Letters
• Prerequisite 2 Sample Letter
• Student Prerequisite 3B Sample Letter
• Graduate Prerequisite 3B Sample Letter
• Employer Sample Letter
• Program Completion Sample Letter
• Residency Fellowship Completion Sample Letter
New 2020 ARDMS Physician Prerequisite Sample Letters – Effective January 6, 2020.
• Program Completion Letter
• Physician in Practice Sample Letter
• Patient Log
REPORT A COMPLIANCE VIOLATION
Do you have an unreported compliance violation? The examination application will ask you to attest to being compliant with the ARDMS Compliance Policies. If you are unsure if you have a compliance violation or if you have a violation to report, please take a moment to watch the short informational video for guidance. For additional assistance please contact Compliance@Inteleos.org.
Degrees earned internationally must be evaluated prior to selecting a prerequisite. We require a course by course evaluation. Click here for a complete list of Evaluation Agencies for International Degrees.
Applicants that have passed all three parts of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) certification may submit a copy of the ECFMG® certificate with a copy of an active MD or DO license from the U.S. or Canada in lieu of the evaluation.
SPI EXAMINATION CHECKLIST
The examination 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 the “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.
You can also use the following form to ensure that you are submitting all the required documentation:
EXAMINATION CONFIRMATION LETTER
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.
ARDMS provides reasonable testing accommodations in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) . Under the ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Having a diagnosed impairment does not necessarily mean that an individual is disabled as defined by the ADA, and not all disabilities require test accommodations.
For more information regarding the ARDMS testing accommodations program, including documentation requirements, processing timelines, and types of accommodations offered, please read the ARDMS Test Accommodations page.
SCHEDULE AN EXAMINATION
Effective November 10, 2020, you can now take the SPI examination online via online proctoring. Learn more!
Once your SPI 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. You will have 90 days to schedule and take your examination.
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 $50 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.
RESCHEDULE AN EXAMINATION
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.
CANCEL AN EXAMINATION
To cancel an examination appointment, you must contact Pearson VUE (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 the 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:
- Log in to your MY ARDMS account.
- Visit the “MY Examination/Application Status” under “Application Center”.
- Select the examination you wish to request a partial refund for.
- 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.
If you need more time and cannot schedule your examination within the 90-day eligibility period, you can request a one-time 60-day extension for the examination. You must request this extension at least 96 hours prior to the last date of the eligibility period.
To request an extension:
- Log in to your MY ARDMS account
- Visit the “MY Examination/Application Status” under “Application Center”.
- Select the examination you wish to extend.
- Complete and submit form.
If you have a scheduled examination appointment, you must contact Pearson VUE (1-877-258-9220) at least 96 hours prior to the scheduled examination, and notify them that you are cancelling your scheduled appointment before you complete the steps above to request an extension.
The entire examination fee is forfeited if we receive your request too late, you never schedule your examination or you do not keep your scheduled examination appointment.
ADMISSION TO TEST CENTERS
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 white boards for notes during the examination upon request.
If you have a documented disability and require special accommodations, contact ARDMS for pre-approval prior to making an examination reservation.
ABOUT THE SPI PRACTICE TEST
Taking a practice test or two is a great way to prepare for your actual examination. We offer two online versions of the SPI Practice Test — SPIa and SPIb — that simulate the computer interface used in the actual test center environment. The SPI practice test review is comprised of 30 sample questions and is 30 minutes long.
The two distinct versions are equivalent in difficulty and content coverage. Note that if you take either test more than once, the questions will be the same.
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.
REGISTER FOR A SPI PRACTICE TEST
Effective April 4, 2023, this practice test will increase to $45.
Each practice test costs $35 USD.
You can now register for a SPI 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 SPI practice test, by signing in your MY ARDMS account.
REVIEW THE SPI CONTENT OUTLINE
The SPI examination covers the following content areas. All percentages are an approximate distribution of the questions across the content areas.
Please note: All percentages are approximate.
SPI Content Outline (Effective September 1st, 2023)
- Perform Ultrasound Examinations – 23%
- Manage Ultrasound Transducers – 7%
- Optimize Sonographic Images – 26%
- Apply Doppler Concepts – 34%
- Provide Clinical Safety & Quality Assurance – 10%
|• Clinical Safety, Patient Care, and Quality Assurance 10%|
|• Physical Principles 15%|
|• Ultrasound Transducers 16%|
|•Imaging Principles and Instrumentation 28%|
|•Doppler Imaging Concepts 31%|
Your score report will display and include performance feedback for these content areas.
REVIEW OUR TIPS FOR EXAM DAY SUCCESS
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.”
- Be advised that the use of a calculator for this examination is prohibited. However, you may utilize the White Board provided at the test center or the digital White Board provided for online proctoring examinations for manual calculations.
Even though we offer practice exams and sample questions, we do not offer study materials for our exams – but our sister societies offer resources that could help you prepare. You can find materials at:
• Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
• American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
• Society for Vascular Ultrasound
• American Society of Echocardiography
HOW IS THE SPI EXAMINATION SCORED?
The SPI examination evaluates the SPI knowledge and skills you must demonstrate as a sonography 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.
HOW DO I GET MY SPI SCORE REPORT?
You can receive a score report at the test center once you complete the examination. The Pass or Fail results will then be posted to your secure MY ARDMS account within the next week.
Candidates receiving a confirmed passing score on all required examinations and meeting all other requirements will be awarded a certification, effective the date the final examination was taken. 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. Student pass rates vary.
Please find below pass rates for previous Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) examination administrations:
First-time takers: 68%
First-time takers: 76%
First-time takers: 73%
First-time takers: 73%
First-time takers: 75%
First-time takers: 78%
First-time takers: 83%
First-time takers: 79%
First-time takers: 81%