Pediatric Echocardiography (PE)

If you are not a physician but are interested in applying for the  ARDMS RDCS certification with a PE specialty, please visit the FE specialty page on the ARDMS website​.​​​​​​​​​​

The Pediatric Echocardiography (PE) examination tests the requisite pediatric echocardiography knowledge, skills and abilities essential to sonographer-level professionals.

As a physician, you are eligible to take many of the examinations offered by the APCA companion council, ARDMS. While ARDMS manages the PE examination and the associated Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) certification, APCA, its companion council created exclusively to serve physicians, will be your destination to apply, prepare for, schedule and maintain all your certifications. You will log into MY APCA for information regarding the examination and to apply online.

To earn the ARDMS Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) certification with a PE specialty, you must pass the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation ( SPI) examination and the PE examination within five years. After passing the SPI examination, you can earn additional ARDMS certifications without having to retake the SPI examination, provided you maintain active status.

You must wait until the next administration to retake the PE examination if you do not pass the examination.

The PE examination assesses the knowledge, skills and abilities in the areas of normal and abnormal cardiac anatomy, physiology, pathology and hemodynamics as appropriate in the pediatric patient.

As a windowed examination, scores for the PE examination will be available approximate 60 days after the close of the administration. For more information, review the “Scoring” tab.

We periodically​ ​conduct a PE Job Task Analysis (JTA) and update the PE examination to reflect the frequency and importance of PE tasks being performed by sonographer-level professionals.

The latest PE JTA was conducted in 2015. Click to view the 2015 PE JTA Results.​​

The PE examination is three hours and contains 150 multiple-choice questions, which include hotspot questions. The hotspot questions are Advanced Item Type questi​ons​​ that assess and measure your practical sonography skills.​

To earn the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) certification with a PE specialty, you must pass the Sonography Princip​les & Instrumentation (SPI​) examination and the PE examination within five years​.

After passing the SPI examination, you can earn additional  certifications without having to retake the SPI examination, provided you maintain active status.

Note: The PE Examination is a windowed examination. Therefore, it is only offered during select periods of the year. Please refer to the “Schedule” tab for upcoming dates.

ARDMS functions under policies intended to demonstrate impartiality, high ethical standards and validity of its certification assessments.

ARDMS does not restrict Applicants, Candidates or becoming a Registrant/Certificant based on limiting conditions, such as membership of an association or professional society of any organization. ARDMS will not unfairly impede or inhibit access to its certification to Applicants, Candidates or Registrants/Certificants who meet our stated policies regarding qualification requirements, renewal requirements and/or passing ARDMS’ psychometrically sound certification assessments.  ​​​

Candidates must pass the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) examination and the corresponding specialty examination within five years, regardless of sequence. Candidates who do not complete both examinations within five years must retake the examination previously passed.

Note: The five-year rule does not apply to Registrants seeking additional specialties under a certification already earned. For example, if you have the RDMS certfication with AB, the five-year rule is not applicable if you want to add another RDMS specialty (OB/GYN, BR, FE, PS). There is no time limit to add additional specialties to a certification already earned, provided you maintain Active status.

However, if you earned the RDMS with the old UPI physics examination and AB (or any other RDMS specialty), and then passed the SPI examination, you would need to pass one of the RDCS, RVT or RMSKS specialties to meet the five-year rule requirement for the SPI examination. In this situation, adding an additional RDMS specialty after passing the SPI examination (or vice versa) would not meet the five-year rule requirement since you would be adding a specialty to a certification already earned.

The five-year rule is based on the calendar year (January 1 through December 31). The five-year period begins the day the first examination is passed, and it includes any time that remains in that year plus the next five years. For example, a candidate who passed the first ARDMS examination on June 6, 2011, is required to pass the second examination by December 31, 2016.

You will be considered a Re-applicant for the PE examination:

1. If you were previously approved to sit for any of the following Sonographer-level specialty examinations:

  • Abdomen (AB)
  • Adult Echocardiography (AE)
  • Breast (BR)
  • Fetal Echocardiography (FE)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN)
  • Pediatric Echocardiography (PE)
  • Pediatric Sonography (PS)
  • Vascular Technology (VT)

2. If you were previously approved to sit for the SPI examination under a prerequisite (excludes approval of the SPI examination under the SPI Examination Requirement).

​​​

Applying as a Re-applicant:
  • If you have a current PE Clinical Verification (CV) Form on file, you will need to submit the application and examination fee only. The application will automatically be approved and you will be able to schedule within a day.
  • If you do not have a current PE CV Form on file, you will need to submit the application, the examination fee and a current PE CV Form. To access your active CV Form, please log into MY APCA  and click on “Clinical Verification Form” under “Application Center.”

You must wait until the next administration to retake the PE examination if you do not pass it.

To sit for the PE examination and earn the RDCS certification, First-Time Applicants must select a prerequisite that best meets your education and clinical experience.

Click to view the SPI Requirement and General Prerequisites.

If you are a Re-applicant, visit the “Apply” tab and view the Re-applicant information.

When applying for the PE examination, if your prerequisite selection requires documentation of clinical experience, please note that application letter(s) must:
• Be an original, official letter with the address and telephone number indicated
• Include the current date (mm/dd/yyyy)
• State actual dates of employment or program
• Contain original signatures (stamped and/or computer generated signatures are not
acceptable); letters cannot be signed by a relative of the applicant
• Provide a physician’s medical license number or Certification (ARDMS or APCA) number

Employment letters must indicate full-time or part-time training/experience AND must include the total number of paid clinical hours.

Program completion letters must include the total number of hours in the program and state individually, the number of didactic and clinical hours in the program.

​Provided are some sample letters that may correspond with your prerequisite requirements:
• Employer Sample Letter
• Program Completion Sample Letter
• Residency Fellowship Completion Sample Lette​r​​

Patient Log:

• Patient Log​

Standard Clinical Verification forms are intended for applicants residing in the U.S or Canada. International Clinical Verification forms are intended for applicants residing outside the U.S. or Canada. Please note that the home address on record at the time of application submission is the basis for determining which form to use.

Degrees earned internationally must be evaluated prior to selecting a prerequisite. We require a course by course evaluation. Click here ​​for a complete list of Evaluation Agencies for International Degrees.

If the applicant has taken and passed all three parts of and earned the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) certification, a copy of the ECFMG® certificate may be submitted with a copy of current, valid MD or DO license from the U.S. or Canada in lieu of the evaluation.​

Based on your prerequisite or requirement selection​​, the necessary supporting ​documentation must be received within 21 days of submitting your online application. ​

Note: We do not retain application documentation received prior to receipt and payment of the online application. Any documentation received prior to the completed online application will be discarded.​​

The PE examination is a windowed examination. Therefore, it is only offered during select periods of the year. See schedule below.

PE Examination Application Dates PE Examination Administration Dates
January 2, 2019 – March 20, 2019 April 3, 2019 – May 1, 2019
July 3, 2019 – September 18, 2019​ October 2, 2019 – October 30, 2019

As a physician, once you are ready to apply for an ARDMS examination, follow the steps below:

  1. Log in to MY APCA  and choose the “Apply Online” option.
  2. Complete the online application form and submit payment. If you are a first-time applicant, you are required to choose a general prerequisite under which to apply.
  3. Gather the required supporting documentation.
  4. Submit your supporting documentation for receipt within 21 days of applying online. Review of your application can take up to five business days from receipt of documentation in the office.

For more details, please visit the RDMS, RDCS and RVT How to Apply Guide​​.

Once we have reviewed your information, we will email you either an Examination Confirmation Letter (ECL) or a request for additional documentation. When you receive the ECL, you may contact Pearson VUE to schedule an examination appointment during your eligibility period. The eligibility period will be listed on your ECL or check above  to view the current PE examination administration dates.

If you are found ineligible to take the examination, your application will be partially refunded (less the $100 USD processing fee per examination) and your documentation will be mailed back to you

The PE examination fee is $250 USD, which includes a $100 USD non-refundable processing fee.

If you take an ARDMS examination at an international test center (outside the U.S., Canada and Mexico), you will be charged an additional non-refundable $100 USD fee when you schedule your examination. This fee is subject to change without notice.​

Reimbursement Information for U.S. Armed Forces Veterans: 

Learn more about the GI Reimbursement Program for United States Armed Forces Veterans. ​

The application checklist is a helpful, online tool that lets you track the status of your submitted application. To view it, log into MY APCA​ and select “Application Checklist” from the “Application Center” drop down menu.

Once we have reviewed your documentation, you can find out what documentation we accepted and what additional documentation we may still need by selecting “View Checklist.” If “View Checklist” is not available, it simply means we have not yet reviewed your documentation.

​If you are found eligible to take an examination, we will email you an Examination Confirmation Letter (ECL) within one to two days of application approval and you will be able to schedule your appointment at that time. The ECL will also be posted to your MY APCA​ account and will include your eligibility period to schedule and take your examination.

​You will be considered a Re-applicant for the PE examination:

  • If you were previously approved to sit for any specialty examination (excluding MSK and PVI)
  • If you were previously approved to sit for the SPI examination under a prerequisite (excludes approval of the SPI examination under the SPI Examination Requirement)

To apply as a Re-applicant:

  • If you have a current PE Clinical Verification (CV) Form on file, you will need to submit the application and examination fee only. The application will automatically be approved.
  • If you do not have a current PE CV Form on file, you will need to submit the application, the examination fee and a current PE CV Form. To access your active CV Form, please log into MY APCA​ and click on “Clinical Verification Form” under “Application Center.”

submit the following along with your completed application:

An original copy of a letter dated within the past five years and typed on official letterhead from a qualified physician or health care provider who specializes in the disability. This letter must document the disability and its severity, describe the applicant’s limitation due to the disability and state exactly what accommodations are recommended. The letter must contain an original signature and the physician’s or provider’s credentials.

An original copy of a comprehensive medical evaluation/report of the diagnosed disability from the physician or health care provider, dated within the past five years.

A completed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Special Accommodations Questionnaire​​, which must be submitted each time you apply for an examination.

For more information, visit Americans with D​isabilities Act​.​

The PE examination is only offered during select periods of the year. See schedule below.

PE Examination Application Dates PE Examination Administration Dates
January 2, 2019 – March 20, 2019 April 3, 2019 – May 1, 2019
July 3, 2019 – September 18, 2019​ October 2, 2019 – October 30, 2019

Once your PE application has been approved, an Examination Confirmation Letter (ECL) will be emailed to you to schedule an examination with Pearson VUE – ARDMS’ official testing vendor. The ECL will include your eligibility period based on the set administration dates and you are encouraged to schedule promptly to ensure availability

If you have not done so already, visit Pearson VUE to:
• Create a Pearson VUE account
• Search for seat availability
• Locate a test center
• Schedule an examination
• Contact Pearson VUE Customer Service

If you are taking the examination at an international test center (outside the U.S., Canada and Mexico), a $100 USD non-refundable fee and Value Added Tax (VAT) will be charged by Pearson VUE. All international scheduling fees and associated VAT will be charged at the time the examination is scheduled. The fees and associated VAT are subject to change without notice, and they are non-refundable.

To reschedule the date and time of your examination during your eligibility period, you must contact Pearson VUE (1-877-258-9220) at least 96 hours prior to the scheduled examination date and time.

Please note: This is a windowed examination and extensions are not available.  You can reschedule your appointment for another time within your stated eligibility period.  However, if you cannot take it within your stated eligibility period, please follow the cancellation procedure.

To cancel an examination appointment, you must contact Pearson VUE (1-877-258-9220) and cancel the scheduled appointment no later than 96 hours prior to the scheduled examination appointment time. You will receive a cancellation email from Pearson VUE.

To request a partial refund, you must wait 24 hours after canceling the appointment with Pearson VUE and then submit a cancellation/partial refund request no later than 96 hours prior to the last date of the eligibility period.

To submit this request:

  1. Log in to your MY APCA​ account
  2. Visit “My Examination/Application Status” under “Application Center.”
  3. Select the examination you wish to request a partial refund for. ​
  4. Complete and submit the form

We will refund your examination fee, less the $100 USD processing fee per examination, unless we receive your request too late, you never schedule your examination or you do not keep your scheduled examination appointment. Then, the entire examination and processing fees are forfeited.

Please note: This is a windowed examination and extensions are not available.  You can reschedule your appointment for another time within your stated eligibility period.  However, if you cannot take it within your stated eligibility period, please follow the cancellation procedure.

When you arrive at a test center, be prepared to:

  • Check in with a Test Center Administrator
  • Present one valid photo identification (ID); see Test Center Identification Requirements
  • Provide a digital signature
  • Have your palm vein scanned
  • Take a test-day photograph

Note: The only thing that you can bring into the testing room is you. The test centers have lockers you can use to store personal belongings. Study materials as well as food and drink are prohibited in the test center. No visitors, guests, pets or children are allowed.

Important: Review ARDMS’s Examination Admission Compliance policies to ensure you are not refused admission at the test center and do not conduct unauthorized examination behavior.

Test centers will provide white boards for notes during the examination upon request.

If you need special accommodations, please select “Yes” for “Special Accommodations” in the application when you apply.​

Taking a practice test or two is a great way to prepare for your actual examination. We offer a Pediatric Echocardiography (PE) Practice Test that simulates the computer interface used in the actual test center environment. The PE practice test review is comprised of 30 sample questions and is 30 minutes long.

After you complete a practice test, you will be emailed a report that shows the number of questions you answered correctly. While the report is an indication of your knowledge, the practice tests results should not be used to predict how well you will perform on the actual test at the test center.

See FAQs​ for additional information.

Each practice test costs $35 USD.

You can now register for a PE practice test by signing into your MY APCA account and clicking the Sign Up/View Practice Test option in the Application Center tab. You can also view the computer system requirements in your MY APCA portal. For any general questions or technical problems regarding the practice tests, please call APCA at (800) 943-1709 or email practicetests@APCA.org.

Before your session begins, you should review the test tutorial​. Please note you will not get a chance to review the test tutorial during the actual practice test, so please prepare accordingly. Once your session begins, you have 30 minutes to complete the practice test.

Register for a PE practice test, by signing into your MY APCA account.

The PE examination contains 150 questions that cover the following content areas. All percentages are an approximate distribution of the questions across the content areas.

Anatomy & Physiology [16%]
• Normal anatomy and physiology
• Organ development

Pathology [49%]
• Abnormal pathology (acquired)
• Abnormal physiology
• Congenital anomalies
• Genetic disorders
• Postoperative (surgically-corrected) anatomy

Protocol [26%]
• Clinical standards and guidelines
• Measurement techniques
• Non-sonographic techniques

Physics & Instrumentation [2%]
• Imaging instruments
• Hemodynamics

Treatment [4%]
• Interventional procedures

Other [3%]
• Miscellaneous
• New technologies

Please note: All percentages are approximate.

Your score report will display and include performance feedback for these content areas.

After all of your diligent preparation and hours spent studying, here are a few valuable tips to help make your examination day a success:

  • Double check that you know where the test center is before examination day and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Remember, you MUST arrive and register at least 30 minutes before the examination begins.
  • Get a good night’s sleep before you take your examination. Being well rested and relaxed when you take your examination will help you concentrate.
  • Bring one form of current and valid identification that complies with the test center identification requirements.​
  • Travel light. The only thing you can bring into the testing room is you. You can store your personal belongings — your car keys, watch, smartphone, purse, backpack, etc. — in lockers at the test center. The following items are not allowed in test centers: study materials, food, drink, visitors/guests, pets and children.
  • Request a white board if you plan to jot down notes during the examination. Test centers are using white boards (rather than paper) in an effort to “go green.”

Good luck!

Even though we offer practice examinations and sample questions, we do not offer study materials for our examinations – but our sister organizations do. You can find materials at:

​The PE examination features Advanced Item Type questions​​, which assess and measure your practical sonography skills. They include hotspot questions in which you will receive questions about individual images. You will use the cursor to mark the correct answer directly on the image.

Watch the video presented by APCA’s companion organization for sonographers, ARDMS: How to Answer a Hotspot Question.

The PE examination evaluates the knowledge and skills you must demonstrate as a PE sonography professional. The primary test result is a PASS or FAIL decision. In addition, you will receive a scaled score, ranging from 300 to 700. A scaled score of 555 is required to pass all ARDMS examinations.

The scaled score is not a percentage of correct answers, nor is it built on a “curve” where a certain percentage of scores would pass and a certain percentage would fail. To learn more, visit N​otification of Results and Scoring​.​

​Examination results and a full score report will be available approximately 60 days after the close of the examination administration. At that time, an email will be sent to you with instructions on how to access your score report in MY APCA​.

Candidates receiving a confirmed passing score on all required examinations and meeting all other requirements will be awarded a certification. For information on the APCA’s scoring methods, visit Notification of Results and Scoring​.​

Candidates who do not pass are invited to re-apply.

You can request a score verification for a $35 USD fee, payable by check, money order or credit card. Score verification ensures that the computer counted the correct and incorrect answers appropriately, but it does not review the questions and answers.

You must submit the completed Exam Score Verification Form​​​ within 30 days of having taken the examination in question. The Exam Score Verification Form will be returned if incomplete, unsigned or unpaid.

When deciding whether to have your score verified, please consider that examinations are scored electronically with a high degree of accuracy, and it is unlikely that verification will alter your original score.​

Below are the pass rates for the PE examination for the past three years.  As this is a sonographer-level examination, this pass rates are reflective of all examinees (both sonographers and physicians).

​2017:
First-time takers: 72%
Overall: 64%​​

2016:
First-time takers: 67%
Overall: 58%​

2015:
First-time takers: 63%
Overall: 55%​

2013: 
First-time takers: 71%
Overall: 65%

2012:
First-time takers: 68%
Overall: 64%

2011:
First-time takers: 67%
Overall: 62%