8 Tips to Passing your ACLS Certification Exam

The Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) exam is one of the most important exams for medical professionals. The exam, which is required for nurses, many doctors, and other medical professionals, is specifically designed to help ensure that these professionals have the skills and knowledge needed to act in the event that a person’s life is at risk.

Recently, many medical professionals have begun taking at least a portion of their ACLS exam online. By choosing to use an online ACLS renewal partner, such as eMedCert, these professionals can work at a time and place of their choosing and, furthermore, study in a way that is notably more productive. Unsurprisingly, the online option has become more popular around the world, with a growing number of medical institutions accepting digital certifications. This trend has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak, something that has caused many people to minimize in-person contact.

Regardless of whether you choose to take the ACLS exam online or in person, it will be important to spend plenty of time studying and preparing to succeed. While the exam itself is not exceptionally difficult, it does cover quite a bit of important information. Furthermore, because the material covered on the exam may end up saving someone’s life, it is important that all people take their ACLS certification (something that needs to be renewed every two years) seriously.

Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to help increase the likelihood of successfully passing the ACLS exam and earning your certification. In this article, we will discuss eight things you can do that will help you get the score you need. While things such as your learning style and current knowledge will need to be accounted for, each of these ten tips can help get you pointed in the right direction.

1. Use a Digital Prep Book

Because so many people (more than one million in the United States, alone) need to complete an ACLS certification course or pass the ACLS exam each year, there is naturally a large abundance of material available for you to study with. This is especially true for the many people who choose to do their certification online. Most digital prep books are neatly divided into distinctive sections, making it easy to identify the topics you’re familiar with and the topics that need some extra attention. These prep books are often created by the same people generating the exams, making them a great place to begin your studies.

2. Begin Prepping Far in Advance

As countless studies have shown, cramming is not nearly as effective as prepping for an exam in advance. By gradually exposing your brain to this crucial information over time, you will inevitably be much more likely to actually retain it. Not only will studying in advance help increase your chances of passing the exam on your first try, but it will also help you remember the information when you are actually on the job. After all, isn’t that what really matters?

3. Review Specific Scenarios

While large portions of the ACLS exam will require basic memorizations, one of the best ways to truly learn this information is to apply it to real-life scenarios. Quiz yourself and ask hypotheticals such as “if I saw someone experiencing cardiac arrest, what is the first thing I would do?” In the real world, you might only have seconds to make a decision.

4. Don’t Forget Your “H’s” and “T’s”

Mnemonic devices are great for memorizing things, both in the short-term and in the long-term. On the ACLS exam, the causes of a patient’s problem are often caused by things starting with H and starting with T. The “H’s” include hypoxia, hypovolemia, hydrogen ion, hypokalemia, and hypothermia. The “T’s” include toxins, tension pneumothorax, tamponade, and thrombosis. Memorizing these will make it much easier to know what to do.

5. Study in Groups

Because many of the people you work with—especially if you are a nurse—will likely need to obtain or renew their ACLS certification as well, studying in groups is something that simply makes sense. Getting together and making sure that everyone is truly familiar with all relevant materials, you will all be much more likely to pass.

6. Complete Plenty of Practice Exams

If you choose to obtain your ACLS certification or ACLS recertification online, then you will also receive numerous practice exams that can be completed as needed. The practice exams are designed to be extremely similar to the actual exam and, in fact, many of the questions used on these simulated exams were actually pulled from previous additions. One of the nice things about taking a practice ACLS exam is that you will be able to review the questions you got wrong, allowing you to learn and improve your knowledge of these important topics.

7. Be Healthy

One of the most important, yet simple, things all test takers should think about is the need to be healthy. Doing things such as getting a good night’s sleep the night before you are planning on taking the exam, eating a substantial and healthy breakfast, and drinking plenty of water will all help you remember essential material and focus, as needed. At the very least, your body will surely thank you.

8. Find What Works for You

Of course, there is no universal “best way” to prepare for the ACLS exam, or any exam, for that matter. The study methods and test-taking strategies that are likely to produce the best scores will vary by each individual. Think back to your experiences in med school, nursing school, or whatever type of school you originally attended. Whatever was proven to be effective then will likely still be effective now.


Many nurses and other medical professionals find themselves feeling nervous about passing the ACLS exam. After all, without your ACLS certification, you will not be able to practice. But with the right strategies and these simple tips, the ACLS exam is one that can be easily managed.