To become COA-certified, you basically have to fill out an application form, fulfill "required education and/or work" requirements, and pass the COA exam. The application can be found here (PDF) on JCAPHO's website. Most of our staff obtain their COA via the "COA-A3" pathway. In other words, they work for us for approximately 6 months before they sit for their COA exam. The completed application (with application fee) is then sent to JCAPHO who reviews it and then notifies the candidate whether (s)he is eligible to sit for the exam. The candidate then schedules the actual COA exam at a Pearson VUE testing facility.
|Required Education||Required Work Experience|
|COA – A1||
COA-OMP or CMA accredited clinical training program
|COA – A2||
COA-OMP or CMA accredited non-clinical training program including distance learning programs
|COA – A3||
Graduated from high school or the equivalent AND approved Independent Study Course such as the JCAT course or AAO Ophthalmic Medical Assisting course.
||1,000 hours under the supervision of an ophthalmologist within 12 months prior to submitting application|
The COA certification exam consists of 200 questions and you are given 3 hours to complete it. Each question on the exam has four possible answers and there is only one correct response. Though some of the answer choices may be partially-correct, there is only one BEST answer.
The exam passing score is arbitrarily set by JCAPHO and is not formally published. This passing score is not a straight percentage correct and the test is not graded on a "curve." In other words, your test results are not being compared against other test-takers. Lastly, you will find out whether or not you passed the COA certification exam immediately after finishing it!
The topic breakdown of the test is shown below. There will be a "new" breakdown starting 8/1/2018 as seen on the left column. The questions on our website closely follow this topic breakdown. Doing the questions on COA Review is the only preparation you will need to pass the COA certification exam.
|Content Areas||New Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA)||Previous Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA)|
|History and Documentation||5%||8%|
|Visual Field Testing||4%||4%|
|Ocular Motility Testing||4%||3%|
|Refractometry: Retinoscopy & Refinement||5%||6%|
|Assisting with Interventions and Procedures||22%|
|Ophthalmic Patient Services and Education||12%||16%|
|Optics and Spectacles||2%||3%|
|Photography and Videography||8%||3%|
|Equipment Maintenance and Calibration||3%||4%|
|Medical Ethics, Legal, and Regulatory Issues||4%||5%|