CIS (Certified Instrument Specialist) Test | Official Guide

instrument calibration

The CIS Test offers a secondary certification to those who work with advanced instruments in sterile processing. To qualify, you need a CRCST certification. The Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA) – formerly IAHCSMM – administers the CIS exam. It aims to honor those with the needed knowledge and skills to excel as advanced specialists.

Free CIS Practice Test Online

Key Takeaways

  • The CIS (Certified Instrument Specialist) Test is a secondary certification for advanced instrument specialists working in sterile processing departments.
  • Applicants must have a valid CRCST certification before taking the CIS exam.
  • HSPA offers the CIS exam, which is designed to recognize individuals with the necessary experience, knowledge, and skills to provide competent services as an advanced instrument specialist.
  • Candidates must complete 200 hours of hands-on work experience in a Sterile Processing department to earn CIS certification.
  • The CIS exam is a computer-based test consisting of 150 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within three hours.

What is the CIS (Certified Instrument Specialist) Test?


The CIS certification program aims to spotlight those skilled in providing expert services in sterile processing. CISs play a vital role in healthcare, ensuring surgical instruments are safely and promptly delivered to patients. They know all about medical instruments and how to maintain them safely.

Initial Eligibility Requirements

Candidates for the CIS certification need 200 hours of hands-on experience in a Sterile Processing department. They must also pass an exam on instrument handling, including support system functions and general knowledge. Having a CRCST certification is a must before the CIS exam. It also has to be kept up to date for CIS certification.

Required Hours of Experience

To apply, you need 200 hours of experience from within the last five years. These include time spent on Instrument Decontamination, Assembly, Information System Management, and Surgery Observation. They can be paid or voluntary hours.

Verification of Requirements

For the CIS exam, you must show documented hands-on experience. The application’s experience part should be filled by your manager or supervisor, not you. This experience can be from paid or volunteer work. You do not need to be currently working or volunteering to qualify for the exam.

Preparing for the CIS Exam

There are two main ways to get ready for the CIS exam. You can study by yourself or use your job experience. The HSPA gives study materials for those going solo. This includes the Instrument Resource Manual, 1st Edition (2018), CS Technical Manual, 8th Edition (2016), and ANSI/AAMI ST79 (2017). If you have learned a lot working in sterile processing, you can apply straight for the exam. HSPA doesn’t make you take a class or study guide first.

Content & Composition of the Exam

The test covers several big topics. These include how to clean and identify instruments. You’ll also need to know how to inspect, test, and prepare them. Learning about sterilization and disinfection is key too, along with how people affect these processes.

Exam Structure

The CIS exam has 150 questions, all multiple-choice. You get three hours to finish and can go back to questions. There’s a 15-minute tutorial before, showing you how to use the computer for the test. This tutorial is online too.

Applying and Taking the CIS Exam

Applying for the CIS exam is easy. You can do it online or by mail. If you apply, make sure you can take the exam within three months. You’ll need to show you’ve worked 200 hours and get your boss to sign off on it.

Application Process

Once you have your eligibility number from HSPA, you can sign up for the exam. This can be done online or by calling Prometric at (800) 998-1942. Make sure to have your eligibility number and the first part of your last name when setting your exam date at a Prometric center.

Exam Registration

On exam day, be early. Arrive at the center 30 minutes before your exam starts. Bring a valid ID and your test confirmation from Prometric. Remember, personal items aren’t allowed in the testing area, so use the lockers they provide.

Exam RequirementDetails
Exam Duration3 hours
Number of Questions150 multiple-choice
Exam Fee$140 for initial exam, same fee for retakes
Prerequisite CertificationCRCST certification through HSPA
Exam Result NotificationPass/Fail immediately at testing center, written report within 2 weeks


The CIS Test is for advanced instrument specialists in sterile processing departments. For a CIRST certification, you need a CRCST and 200 hours work.

The exam covers identifying instruments, cleaning them, and packaging. It also looks at the impact of humans and tests on sterilization. By passing, you show you’re skilled to handle complicated equipment.

This achievement is important. It shows you understand how to handle surgical tools safely. This makes patient care better and safer.


What is the CIS (Certified Instrument Specialist) Test?

The CIS (Certified Instrument Specialist) exam is for experts working in sterile processing. They need a prior CRCST certification. The CIS test focuses on expert-level skills.

What are the initial eligibility requirements to take the CIS exam?

To be eligible, one must have the CRCST certificate and 200 hours experience. This experience should be from work in a Sterile Processing department, within five years.

How many hours of experience are required for the CIS exam, and how are they broken down?

You need 200 hours working in Sterile Processing, with specific time in different tasks. You should have 92 hours each in Instrument Decontamination and Assembly. Also, 12 hours in managing Instrument Information, and 4 hours observing surgeries.

How is the 200 hours of experience verified for the CIS exam?

Proof of experience must be signed by your supervisor. No self-reported experience is allowed. The supervisor ensures the accuracy of your experience record.

How can applicants prepare for the CIS exam?

There are options to study for the CIS test. You can do self-study with materials from HSPA. Or, you can apply based on your work experience and knowledge. This second option is for those who feel confident in their abilities.

What does the CIS exam cover?

The CIS test covers a range of topics. It includes processes on cleaning and decontamination. Also, identification and testing of instruments. You will need to understand how human actions can affect system efficiency.

What is the format of the CIS exam?

The exam is done on a computer. There are 150 multiple-choice questions. You have three hours to finish the test. The questions will test your knowledge thoroughly.

How do applicants apply and register for the CIS exam?

Start by filling out the CIS application online or by mail. Once you get an eligibility number, through HSPA, you can sign up for the exam. This is done by contacting Prometric either online or by phone.

What do applicants need to bring on the day of the CIS exam?

Bring a government ID and your Prometric test confirmation. Arrive at the testing center 30 minutes early. This is what you must do on the day of your CIS exam.

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