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VTNE Test Day: What Every Vet Tech Student Should Expect

by Cathy Barnette - Aug 26, 2019 10:31:34 AM
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You have made it through vet tech school and now the VTNE® is the last hurdle standing between you and your new career. You’ve heard about the exam, and you may have already started studying for it, but how much do you really know about the VTNE®?

Here are the basic facts: 

  • It’s a computer-based exam. 
  • There are 170 questions, but only 150 questions actually count towards your score. The other 20 are “pilot questions,” being tested for possible use in later exam versions.
  • The exam questions cover nine domains: Pharmacy/Pharmacology, Surgical Nursing, Dentistry, Laboratory Procedures, Animal Care/Nursing, Diagnostic Imaging, Anesthesia, Emergency Medicine/Critical Care, and Pain Management/Analgesia. 

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While those three bullet points summarize the highlights of the VTNE®, they don’t really help answer the biggest question that’s probably on your mind... 

What should I expect on test day?  

Knowing what to expect, from the moment you walk into the test center until the moment you leave, can decrease your anxiety and help you perform your best. So, let’s walk through what you can expect on the day of your exam!

The Test Center

The VTNE® is administered at Prometric® test centers. These test centers are located throughout the country, although you may have to travel a considerable distance to reach your nearest test center. In most cases, the test center is located in an office building or strip mall. 

Ideally, you should allow plenty of time for your commute and arrive at the test center well before your scheduled exam time. Prometric® asks that you arrive 30 minutes early; if you’re earlier than that, use the extra time to relax, listen to music, and de-stress a bit before your exam. It’s important to be on time, because you might not be allowed to take the exam if you arrive late.

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Once you enter the test center, you will check in for your exam. As you check in, you will need to show your driver’s license or other official and valid ID. Make sure that the name on your ID is identical to the name that you used to register for the VTNE®.

Next, you will be provided with a small locker, where you can put your keys, phone, coat, snacks, and other belongings. You will be asked to turn your pockets inside-out to verify that they are empty and you may also have to go through a metal detector. You are not allowed to bring anything into the room where you will take the VTNE®

The Testing Room 

The testing room itself contains a number of computers, which are used to administer the VTNE® and other exams. The computers are typically separated by small partitions, forming low-privacy cubicles (like what you might see in a call center). The room is monitored via video cameras. 


The room may be either warm or cold. Prepare for this by dressing in layers, so that you can be comfortable regardless of the room temperature. 

You can expect a small amount of background noise in the testing room. Some tests offered by Prometric® include essay questions, so you may hear typing. You’ll also hear all of the normal sounds associated with having several people in a small room, like coughing, sneezing, and squeaky chairs.

If you’re a person who is distracted by sounds, you will want to be mentally prepared for this possibility! You aren’t allowed to bring your own earplugs or headset, but the test center will provide small earplugs that you can use. 


Once you are in the testing room, you will be shown to a computer.

20190814_VTP_social media-07These tools are provided to help you with the exam: 

  • Basic on-screen calculator
  • Scratch paper
  • Pencil

Before beginning the exam, you will work through a brief tutorial on the computer. This tutorial will show you how to select answers, change answers, and navigate through the exam. The VTNE® gives you the option to skip questions and mark questions for later review; pay attention during the tutorial to learn how to use these tools!

Once you finish the tutorial, your time begins. You have three hours to complete the VTNE®. A countdown clock will be visible on your computer screen, but it can be turned off if it’s a distraction for you.

You can take breaks as needed, but the three-hour clock does not stop ticking! During breaks, you’re not allowed to talk to anyone, look at your books or notes, or leave the test center. 

Your exam will end when your three hours is up, or you can end it before that time if you finish early. Once you complete the exam, the computer will display an unofficial “pass” or “fail” score. This is for your information only; it’s not considered an official score. Your official score report will be available in your MyAAVSB online profile 3-4 weeks after your exam date. Once you have seen your score, it’s time to check out of the test center and head out to enjoy the rest of your day.

Hopefully, understanding what to expect on test day will take away some of the mystery surrounding the VTNE®. This exam shouldn’t be scary…as long as you invest the time and effort to study and prepare yourself!

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About Cathy Barnette

Cathy Barnette is a practicing small animal veterinarian, freelance writer, and contributor to XPrep Learning Solutions. She is passionate about both veterinary medicine and education, working to provide helpful information to veterinary teams and the general public. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature with her family and leading a Girl Scout troop.

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