By John Noblitt, MAEd, CBETICC Prep JohnNoblitt

I am often asked about study material for the CBET exam. Biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) want to know what the best study information is and where it is located. While conducting a CBET review seminar last month, I was asked these same questions by one of the attendees. Of course, we had gone over all the different areas of the test with much information about each subject, but, like any good student, he wanted more information. I told this person not to overlook the study material he runs into every day while at work. He asked, “What do you mean study material at work?”

I went on to explain to him that he has the best learning environment and laboratory for the certification exam there could possibly be, which is the hospital he works in. With a puzzled look on his face, I went on to explain. I said, “The next time you get a call that an otoscope does not work, use that experience to study.” I asked him if the scope did not work, what would be the likely problem? He said it probably was not plugged in or the light bulb had burned out. I agreed and went on to explain what I meant about how he could use this as a study guide.

Using the Day-to-Day

To use your day-to-day job as a study guide in this instance, it may go like this. Why do they call it an otoscope? What does oto mean? What does scope mean in this instance? Where do we use it? He responded, “To look in someone’s ears.”

I asked, “What are the parts of the ears?” He replied saying that you have the outer, middle, and inner ear. This is correct, I told him, but what is a physician looking at with the otoscope? He answered, “Maybe the eardrum.” I agreed, but asked him, “What is another name for the eardrum?” He was not sure, so I told him it was also called the tympanic membrane. The minute I told him, he said, “Oh, yeah.” My guess is if that would have been a question on his test, he would have gotten it correct with the four choices to choose from.

Do not overlook the things you do on a daily basis that may help you in becoming a certified technician.

We continued our discussion, and I asked, “What else do you know about the inside of an ear?” He stated he knew there are three very tiny bones in the ear and a round thing. I explained to him the three bones he referred to are the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup. However, the test may refer to them as the malleus, incus, and stapes, with the stapes being the smallest bone in the human body.

I also pointed out to him the round thing he was referring to is called the cochlea. He remembered this and told me he thought it played a role in balance, which it does. I went on to explain that in the inner ear, where you would find the cochlea, is also what is known as the bony labyrinth. The bony labyrinth has semicircular canals associated with balance, and two other structures, the saccule and utricle, play a role in equilibrium and balance.

As our discussion continued, I asked about the nerves. He could not think of any, and so I explained, you will find the auditory nerve and the vestibular nerve in the ear. All of this information could find its way onto the certification exam, and this technique is a great way to help prepare for the exam.

Remember the Simple Things

This is just one example of how you can use your daily activities at work to help prepare for the certification test. I strongly believe if you will employ this technique about all the devices you work on, it will give you an advantage and the information you need to do well on the exam. This applies to all the different devices you may run across at work. You may also find that the technicians using the machines have a wealth of knowledge about the clinical side of the equipment that may help you on the exam. So ask questions about different devices from the people who are using them every day. I have found most people love it when you ask about their specialty, and they love to share the knowledge they have. Also, when you think about a piece of equipment, ask yourself, what could a CBET question look like for this piece of equipment? An example could be, what device may be used to exam the tympanic membrane? And, of course, the answer is an otoscope.

So, do not overlook the simple things that you do on a day-to-day basis that may help you in becoming a certified technician. You need to use every resource you have available to prepare yourself for the certification exam, and one of the most powerful resources you have is yourself and the people you work with. I hope you find this information useful and try to employ this technique as a study aid. 24×7 ICC Prep December 2012

John Noblitt, MAEd, CBET, is the BMET program director at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Hudson, NC. For more information, contact the editor.


Review Questions

1) In what part of the ear will you find the cochlea?
a) The inner ear
b) The outer ear
c) The Eustachian tube
d) The middle ear

2) The smallest bone in the human body is found where?
a) In the vertebra
b) In the carpals
c) In the hand
d) In the ear

3) Semicircular canals that play a role in balance and equilibrium are found where?
a) In the bony labyrinth
b) In the occipital lobe
c) In the middle ear
d) In all three areas

4) What structure is responsible for transmitting sound to the ossicles in the middle ear?
a) The cochlea    
b) The tympanic membrane
c) The auditory nerve
d) The optic nerve


Answers: 1­a; 2–d; 3–a; 4–b