Surgical Assistant Certification Examination

The SA-C examination consists of 150 questions, of which 140 are scored items and 10 are pretest items that do not count toward the candidate’s score. Candidates will have three (3) hours to complete the computer-based examination. Examination questions are single select, multiple-choice with four options. The exam covers the topic areas detailed in the content outline. All exam content is developed based on practice in the United States. The SA-C exam is offered only in English.

The ABSA’s role is in developing and administering certification examinations to determine the qualifications of candidates for certification. The ABSA does not require, provide, accredit, or endorse any specific study guides, training or review courses, or other examination preparation products. The ABSA Board, certification staff, and certification SMEs do not have involvement in the creation, accreditation, approval, endorsement or delivery of examination review courses, preparatory materials, educational programs, or training programs/products that prepare candidates for the SA-C certification examination.

SA-C Exam Content Outline
SA-C Examination Content DomainWeight
General Surgery Procedures22%
Orthopaedic Surgery Procedures11%
Gynecological Surgery Procedures10%
Varied Other Surgical Specialties (Urological Surgery, Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Neurological Surgery)6%
General Operating Room Knowledge13%
Anatomy & Medical Technology21%
Robotics Surgery Procedures4%
Basic Surgical Instrumentation7%
Total140 items

I. General Surgery Procedures (22%)
  • Surgical Anatomy
    • Abdomen
    • Esophagogastrointestinal Tract
    • Gallbladder
    • Liver
    • Spleen
  • Surgical Considerations
  • Blood Supply the Gut
  • Surgical Procedures
    • Cholecystectomy
    • Gastrectomy
    • Appendectomy
    • Hernia Repairs
  • Surgical & Procedural Terminology
II. Orthopaedic Procedures (11%)
  • Surgical Anatomy
    • Superior Extremities
    • Inferior Extremities
  • Surgical Procedures
    • Total Hip Replacement
    • Total Knee Replacement
    • ACL Reconstruction
    • Cast Applications
  • Surgical & Procedural Terminology
III. Gynecological Procedures (10%)
  • Surgical Anatomy
    • Uterus & Adnexa
    • Placenta
    • Vagina
  • Surgical procedures
    • Abdominal Hysterectomy
    • Caesarean Section
    • Anterior & Posterior Repairs of Vagina
  • Surgical & Procedural Terminology
IV. Varied Other Surgical Specialties (Urological Surgery, Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Neurological Surgery) (6%)
  • Urological Surgery
    • Surgical Anatomy
    • Surgical Procedures
    • Surgical & Procedural Terminology
  • Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
    • Surgical Anatomy
    • Surgical Procedures
    • Surgical & Procedural Terminology
  • Neurological Surgery
    • Surgical Anatomy
    • Surgical Procedures
    • Surgical & Procedural Terminology
V. General Operating Room Knowledge (13%)
  • Patient Safety
  • General Operating Room Equipment
  • OSHA Regulations & Personal Safety
  • General Patient Information
VI. Anatomy & Medical Technology (21%)
  • Surgical Anatomy
  • Surgical & Procedural Terminology
VII.  Robotics Surgery (4%)
  • Setup & Draping
  • Positioning
  • Instrumentation
  • Complications & Troubleshooting
  • Surgical & Procedural Terminology
VIII.  Basic Surgical Instrumentation (7%)
  • Clamps & Forcepts
    • Clamps (general & vascular)
    • Tissue forcepts
    • Needle Holders
  • Retractors
    • Self-retaining retractors
    • Handheld retractors
  • Miscellaneous
    • Electrocautery instrumentation
    • Suctions
    • Staplers
IX.  CPR (ABCs) (6%)
  • A—Airway
  • B—Breathing
  • C—Circulation
SA-C Job Analysis

The ABSA participates in and provides oversight for the development and ongoing maintenance of the certification examination(s). The Board of Directors and COO work in partnership with the ABSA psychometrician to ensure the examination is developed and maintained in a manner consistent with generally accepted psychometric, education testing practices, and national accreditation standards for certification programs. The Board of Directors selects diverse groups of qualified subject matter experts (SMEs) to participate in exam development activities throughout the exam development process.