Surgical Instrument Exam



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“Quality is Our Commitment, Patient Safety is Our Goal.” TM

SPD Surgical Instrument Specialist
Certification Exam

Menu Links
1. Eligibility Requirements & Info
2. Exam Dates & Test Sites
3. Training
4. Exam Outline
5. Study Material
7. Filling Out Your Application
8. Reserving Your Exam Seat/Date - The Final Steps
9. Test Center Regulations
10. Exam Policies To Be Aware Of

Eligibility Requirements & Info

The CBSPD does not discriminate among applicants as to age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, or marital status. The examination is only offered in English in the United States. Candidates must be able to interpret, speak, and write English.

Prior to the examination deadline, a **COMBINATION** of the following requirements MUST be met in order to qualify to take this examination.


  • Current/valid CBSPD certification as a SPD Technician (CSPDT) – Must include a copy of your CBSPD Tech certificate
***Plus (ONE) of the following below
  • Completion of 24 months of full-time employment or equivalent part-time hours performing Operating Room surgical instrument processing activities (provide verification signed by your manager on your exam application).


  • Completion of a surgical instrument processing or surgical technology course with a passing grade of 70 or higher (provide copy of certificate/grade from your instructor) AND 12 months of full-time or equivalent part-time hours performing surgical instrument processing (provide verification signed by your manager on your exam application).


  • Completion of 24 months surgical instrument sales or service (provide verification signed by your employer on your exam application).

Cost for exam each time you take it in the United States:

$125 (for payment by money order/cashier's check or Work Facility check, **NO PERSONAL CHECKS**).  The cost is $125 if your completed application and payment is received up to 2 weeks before the current application deadline. After that time, the cost wil be $135.

If the candidate registers late, and have a company check already made for the $125 ea., then the CBSPD will register the candidate(s) and allow them to test. However, the CBSPD won't release the candidate(s) grades until the additional money is paid.


$128 (for payment by credit card. This includes a non-refundable $3 convenience fee per person for using your credit card. All chargeback's will be assessed a fee of $20). The cost is $128 if your completed application and payment is received up to 2 weeks before the current application deadline. After that time, the cost wil be $138.

Number of questions on exam:
100 (multiple choice given on a computer at a Lasergrade/PSI testing center)

Time to complete exam:
2 hours

Passing scaled score for exam:

**Preliminary PASS/FAIL Results are given the day of exam (for those testing on a computer), FINAL results are mailed to you by 3 weeks after the end of the exam window. Passing candidates only get a passing status with no score given, while failing candidates get a score as well as a diagnostic report on what areas on the exam they did well/poor in. NOTE: failing candidates will now only receive a score and diagnostic report with their FINAL results.

**Please note, while it is unlikely, there is a chance that your preliminary result reported and the final result reported may differ. Psychometric/statistical analysis is performed after each exam which sometimes leads to an adjustment of the scores. This is why you MUST wait for your final exam result to arrive in the mail to determine if you passed or failed the exam.

**There is no limit on how many times you can take the exam if you fail, however if you do fail, you must take the entire exam over again and pay the entire fee as well. You cannot take the exam more than once in the same exam window.

"International" Certification Length:
5 years

Points needed to re-certify:
100 (candidate keeps track of points over the 5 years)

**CBSPD awards 50 points for full time employment over the 5 years (with verification). A candidate would then only need to earn 10 points per year to re-certify.

Cost of re-certification for another 5 years:


Exam Dates & Test Sites

Click HERE for exam dates and application deadlines.

Click HERE for Lasergrade/PSI test sites in the United States and Canada



Click HERE for a list of "independent" training courses (not associated with CBSPD).


Surgical Instrument Exam Outline

**These areas will be covered in the study material for this exam.

1. Care of Surgical Instruments (6% of Exam)

  • Composition and finish of instruments (e.g. titanium, stainless steel)
  • Grades of stainless steel
  • Methods to prevent damage
2. Identification of Surgical Instruments by Proper Name (34% of Exam)
  • General instruments (e.g. hemostats, scissors, forceps)
  • Retractors (hand held, self retaining and table mounts)
  • Laparoscopic instruments and accessories
  • Robotic instruments and accessories
  • Navigational systems
  • Surgical instrument tracking systems
  • Power Equipment
  • Specialty instruments: Orthopedic (includes trauma and total joints)
  • Specialty instruments: Neurosurgical
  • Specialty instruments: Vascular
  • Specialty instruments: Cardiovascular-Thoracic
  • Specialty instruments: ENT
  • Specialty instruments: GU
  • Specialty instruments: Dental
  • Specialty instruments: GYN
  • Specialty instruments: Plastic
  • Anatomy of instruments (e.g. jaws, shanks, box lock)
3. Components, Assembly and Configuration of Individual Sets (6% of Exam)
  • Instrument make-up for various sets
  • Name of instruments
  • Use of instruments
4. Instrument Inspection and Safety Testing (36% of Exam)
  • Inspection for cleanliness – frequency
  • Inspection for cleanliness – method (e.g. magnifying lamp)
  • How to test scissors, hinged instruments, forceps, needle holders, etc.
  • Inspection and testing of laparoscopic instruments for functionality
  • Inspection of insulation on insulation instruments: frequency
  • Inspection of insulation on insulated instruments: method (e.g. reusable testers, single use testers)
  • Inspection of instrument marking tape, dipped handles, etc. What methods are acceptable for marking.
  • Inspection of instrument marking tape, dipped handles, etc. How to utilize instrument identification methods
  • Inspection of instrument marking tape, dipped handles, etc. Correct application of tape.
  • Inspection of instrument marking tape, dipped handles, etc. Maintenance of marking method.
  • Inspection of specialty devices/sets: Rigid, semi-rigid and flexible scopes
  • Inspection of specialty devices/sets: Robotic instruments
  • Inspection of specialty devices/sets: Power Equipment
  • Inspection of specialty devices/sets: Harmonic scalpels
  • Inspection of specialty devices/sets: Cameras
  • Inspection of specialty devices/sets: Stereotactic sets
  • Inspection of specialty devices/sets: Sigmoidoscope sets
5. Loaner/Implant Sets and Components (8% of Exam)
  • Inspection of loaner instruments.
  • Testing of loaner instruments.
  • Set configuration of loaner instruments.
  • Documentation process for loaner instruments.
6. Ethics (10% of Exam)
  • Cleanliness of instruments
  • Functionality of instruments
  • Correct instrument on set
  • Completeness of sets
  • Reporting instrument damage/abuse


Study Material Used to Prepare
for Surgical Instrument Exam

Surgical Instrument Specialist Package: $256 plus shipping/handling.

1. CBSPD Surgical Instrument Specialist Study guide - 2nd Edition
2. Tighe, Shirley, Surgical Instrumentation for the Operating Room: A Photographic Manual.  8th or 9th Edition.  Elsevier (Mosby).
3. SPU's The Basics of Sterile Processing Textbook - 6th Edition
4. SPU's The Basics of Sterile Processing Workbook - 6th Edition

Order Now on-line by Credit Card HERE (to get the on-line discount).

If you want to pay by Facility check or money order, click HERE to download an order form. We will ONLY accept PRE-PAID purchase orders. You can also place an order by calling us at 1.908.236.0530. **There are NO discounts for orders sent in by mail, faxed in, or called in by phone.


Exam Application Process

The FEBRUARY 2018 application booklets will be available on DECEMBER 14, 2017.


Filling Out Your Application

It is very important to follow all instructions listed below in order to have your application processed correctly. The application MUST be the most recent form and old applications are not accepted. Failure to follow instructions WILL cause your application to be rejected.

1. Print (in ink) or type all information requested clearly. Writing that is not legible WILL cause delays in the registration process. 

2. Read the Applicant Agreement in Section One carefully then sign and date the application.  NOTE: The application is a legal document.  If you falsify this agreement, it gives the CBSPD the right to cancel your registration.


  • Read the list of exam requirements in Section Two and then check off the one that applies to you (besides already being certified as a CBSPD SPD tech (CSPDT). You only need to meet ONE of these other requirements to sit for this exam after having your CBSPD tech certification. If you do not meet at least one of these requirements, then you cannot challenge the exam.

  • If you are currently certified as a Technician thru the CBSPD, you need to include a copy of your technician certification certificate which was issued to you by the CBSPD. If you do not include a copy of your CBSPD tech certificate, your application will be rejected.

  • If you qualify for the exam by length of employment, THE NEXT STEP is to have your MANAGER fill out the section directly below it where it states “THIS INFORMATION BELOW IS TO BE FILLED OUT BY YOUR EMPLOYER”. In this section, your manager, who is verifying your experience, will include his/her Name, Phone Number, Work Address, and it MUST be signed by him/her. If you qualify by length of employment and this section is not completed, your application will be rejected. 

  • If you have completed a surgical instrument processing or surgical technology training course, you STILL must have your manager verify your employment because you also need at least 12 months of full time employment performing surgical instrument processing (please see exam requirements for details). You will have to attach a legible copy of your certificate or grade from your course instructor showing that you passed the course with a grade of 70 or higher. You will also need for your manager to verify your 12 months of full-time employment by filling out the employer verification section. If you check off the option in Section Two for completion of a training course & employment and your certificate or grade from your instructor is not attached or your manager does not fill out the experience verification section, your application will be rejected.

4. Complete Section Three of the application (Payment Information).  Check off ONE of the options for payment.  You can pay by Money Order, Work Facility Check, or Cashier’s Check for $125 up to 2 weeks before the current application deadline. After that time, the cost will be $135. Please put your name and phone number on the Money Order or Cashier’s Check and make payable to: CBSPD.  If you want to pay by credit card, check off that box. Please note there is a $3 non-refundable convenience fee per person for the use of your credit card. With this in mind, the exam fee when using a credit card will be $128 up to 2 weeks before the current application deadline. After that time, the cost will be $138.  All chargeback’s will be assessed a fee of $20. We will supply you with a receipt for your credit card transaction when we send you your registration verification notice either in the mail with your postcard or by email.  If this section is not complete, your application will be rejected.

5. Send your completed an signed application with payment to our office by the application deadline on the top of the most recent application...AND NO LATER.

Send to: CBSPD, 148 MAIN STREET, SUITE C-1, LEBANON, NJ, 08833



Reserving Your Exam Seat/Date - The Final Steps

Once your application has been reviewed and approved, you will receive a registration verification notice in the form of a postcard OR email (if you give us an email address on your application). DO NOT DISCARD THIS REGISTRATION NOTICE.  When you receive your NOTICE, you MUST verify that all the information on the notice is correct, INCLUDING THE EXAM YOU WISH TO TAKE. If ANY information is NOT correct including the spelling of your name/address or the exam(s) you signed up for, call the CBSPD office or e-mail us at IMMEDIATELY. The CBSPD will not refund or credit you if you register for the wrong exam and do not notify the CBSPD office within 48 hours of the start of the exam window. The REGISTRATION NOTICE will also tell you to call the testing agency (Lasergrade/PSI) at their toll free number (800-211-2754) to schedule your actual date/location of the exam.  The date and time can be anytime during the selected week (window) specified on your application form.  However, dates and times are subject to availability at the site selected.  IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED YOUR REGISTRATION VERIFICATION NOTICE 7 DAYS PRIOR TO THE EXAMINATION WINDOW, contact the CBSPD office immediately.


Test Center Regulations

1. You MUST present a VALID government issued ID with your photo attached (i.e. passport, driver’s license, military ID, or State Issued ID) at the test site before you are allowed to take the examination. No exceptions will be made. If you do not bring your valid government issued photo ID with you on the date of the exam, you will not be permitted to sit for the exam.

2. Candidates must arrive at the test center 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time of the examination. Candidate admission will begin immediately and testing will begin at the scheduled time.

3. Late arrivals at the test center will only be permitted to take the exam at the discretion of the test site proctor and subject to space availability. (NOTE: Each test center has a certain amount of computers and if they are all in use you will not be able to take the exam). If the site cannot accommodate the candidate, the testing fee is forfeited (no refund). Make sure you allow enough time to get to the test site to avoid this. Candidates will only be allowed to take the examination at their assigned test center; "walk-in" candidates will not be permitted to take the examination.

4. Books, papers, notes, cell phones, pagers, calculators or similar electronic devices are not permitted in the testing center. Personal property such as briefcases, backpacks, or large purses will be collected by the Proctors and returned after the testing session.

5. Visitors or observers are not allowed in the test center.

NO SHOWS – Any candidate that fails to show up for the exam will not be issued a refund or transferred to another exam date.

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT CHEATING – The Board of Directors of the CBSPD consider any of the following activities (occurring during or after the administration of any of the CBSPD certification examinations) as cheating: verbal and non-verbal communications in which discussion of any of the questions on the exam are made, use of cell phones, pagers with text messaging or phones; use of textbooks, reference materials, crib sheets, writing information and removal from the room, removal of exams from the room, etc. Any instances of cheating or alleged cheating will result in a thorough investigation.  Any candidate who is found to have cheated will face strict disciplinary action up to and including non-scoring of their examination and possible legal action for theft of copyrighted property.  Any candidate who has cheated or allegedly cheated during the exam will be precluded from taking any CBSPD examination for a period of no less than six (6) months as determined by the Board of Directors based upon the results of the investigation of the incident.


Exam Policies To Be Aware Of

For candidates that find they are signed up for the wrong exam: When you receive your registration verification notice, if there is an error in the exam you wish to take, please contact the CBSPD office immediately so the correction can be made.  If you decide to sit for a different exam (i.e. change your mind), you must call the CBSPD office immediately to arrange for the change.  There is a $10 fee for this change of exam.  No changes of exams can be made within 48 hours of the START of the exam window.

REFUND POLICY - Candidates wishing to withdraw from their examination may do so up to 2 weeks prior to the START of the exam window. Requests for withdrawal must be made in writing (by mail or fax) and must be received by the CBSPD office on or before the 2-week deadline. There is a $60 non-refundable administrative fee for withdrawal. NO REFUNDS WILL BE ISSUED IF THIS PROCEDURE IS NOT FOLLOWED.

Any candidate unable to take the examination on the date originally registered can transfer to the next available examination window up to 24 hours in advance.

There is a $20 non-refundable fee for ALL non-emergency transfers.
The request for transfer must be made in writing (by mail or fax) and must be received by the CBSPD along with payment (credit card or Money orders/Cashier’s Checks; made payable to CBSPD) no later than 24 hours before the START of the exam window. Transfers will not be processed by Lasergrade/PSI. The candidate must make all transfer requests to the CBSPD. No transfer requests will be honored for anyone other than the candidate.

IF the candidate has already reserved their exam seat with Lasergrade/PSI, they must FIRST contact Lasergrade/PSI (1.800.211.2754) within 24 hours of their originally scheduled exam date to cancel their seat in order to be eligible to transfer to the next exam. If their seat is not cancelled in time, the candidate will forfeit the entire exam fee and have to register for the exam again. IF the candidate has NOT scheduled their seat with Lasergrade/PSI, then they will just have to submit their notice of transfer in writing along with the payment within the 24 hours before the start of the exam window. The CBSPD will provide written verification of the transfer to the candidates. The candidate will automatically be registered for the next testing window. It is the candidate’s responsibility to re-schedule the exam date with the testing agency after the CBSPD has approved the transfer. Once the candidate receives their new registration verification notice, they can re-register. Failure to sit for the next scheduled examination window will result in the loss of the full registration fee. Only one transfer is permitted, per registration period. NOTE: You cannot transfer 2 times in a row. If you are transferred to the next exam window and do not take the exam, then you will forfeit the entire exam fee and will have to re-register.

EMERGENCY TRANSFER POLICY - Candidates unable to sit for the examination due to ILLNESS, INJURY OR HOSPITALIZATION are required to call or e-mail the CBSPD immediately or within 24 hours of their scheduled examination date. Leave a message with your name, address, phone number, exam that you signed up for, and a reason you cannot take the examination. Also call Lasergrade/PSI to cancel your seat immediately. The CBSPD reserves the right to require verification of the reason a candidate is not able to sit for the examination. Upon verification, the candidate will be transferred to the next scheduled examination window (normal transfer fees will NOT apply).


TESTING CANDIDATES WITH SPECIAL NEEDS - Special accommodations for examination services will be made at no extra charge for candidates with special testing needs. Requests for such accommodations must be made in writing to the CBSPD and must be received NO LATER THAN 4 WEEKS prior to START of the examination window. Requests received after the examination deadline will be held for the next examination date.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The examination is only offered in English in the United States. Candidates must be able to interpret, speak, and write English.

Written requests for special needs must contain the following:

A signed letter from a professional on office letterhead who has made an assessment of the candidate’s condition or disability, describing the way in which the candidate would be best accommodated.

• A letter from the candidate describing the requested accommodation.

When candidates have demonstrated they require a reader, the candidate must supply the reader, and the reader must sign a confidentiality form and return it to the CBSPD office NO LATER THAN 3 WEEKS prior to the START of the exam window. The Board will review and accommodate all reasonable requests for special testing services.

GROUP IRREGULARITIES - Unlike cases of individual candidate misconduct, occasionally testing irregularities occur that affect a group of test takers. Such problems include, without limitation, administrative errors, defective equipment or materials, improper access to test content and/or the unauthorized general availability of test content, as well as, other disruptions of test administrations (e.g. natural disasters and other emergencies). When group testing irregularities occur, the testing agency will conduct an investigation to provide information to the CBSPD. Based on this information, the CBSPD may direct the testing agency either not to score the test or to cancel the test score. When it is appropriate to do so, the CBSPD will arrange with the testing agency to give affected test takers the opportunity to take the test again as soon as possible, without charge. Affected test takers will be notified of the reasons for the cancellation and their options for retaking the test.

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE - Any questions or comments concerning a particular examination administration or item must be put in writing and sent to the CBSPD, Inc. Comment forms are provided on the day of the exam for this purpose. Specific information concerning an examination or its content cannot be given over the telephone by the testing agency or the CBSPD. All questions and comments must be put in writing and will be carefully reviewed prior to response.

ALL OTHER ACTIONS - If an application for an exam is denied, re-certification denied or any disciplinary action taken against a candidate, the candidate will be notified in writing within 5 business days of the decision/action and offered the option to appeal the decision to the Board. This appeal must be in writing and submitted within 5 business days of notification of the denial or action taken. The Board will review the appeal and provide a written decision within 10 business days of receipt of the appeal.

CHALLENGES TO SCORING RESULTS WITH COMPUTER-BASED TESTING - Any individual who wishes to have their score rechecked after taking one of the CBSPD computer-based examinations, please send a letter to the CBSPD, Inc., 148 Main Street, Suite C-1, Lebanon, New Jersey 08833 requesting a re-scoring of your examination. This will involve printing out your responses and scoring them by hand. There is a $20 charge for this service and the fee must be included with your written request. Please include your name, last 4 digits of your Social Security Number, and examination date at the top of your letter. Payment must be made payable to the CBSPD in the form of a money order or Facility check. All requests for re-scoring must be made within 45 days of the examination date. A written report with the re-scoring will be provided to the candidate.

CANCELLATION OF SCORES - If for any reason you decide that you do not want your score reported, you must:

1. Write to the CBSPD requesting cancellation of your scores. Your written request must be signed and must reach the CBSPD within five days of the examination date. Lasergrade/PSI proctors cannot cancel your score at the end of your exam.

No refunds will be given for candidates requesting score cancellations. To re-take the examination after a score cancellation, a new application form and fee must be submitted.

EXAM RESULTS POLICY - If a passing member’s certification packet is returned after being mailed by the CBSPD, the CBSPD will try to contact the certificant to get a new address.  The CBSPD will resend the packet ONLY ONCE at no cost. If the packet is not received again, then the certificant must supply an alternate address to the CBSPD and they must purchase replacements of each item in the certification packet before it can be mailed out again. Certificates are $10 each, ID cards are $5 each, and certification pins are $10 each. Requests can be made in writing and sent to our office or requested from our website. All forms of payment except a personal check are accepted.

Disciplinary ActionEffective January 1, 2000 any CBSPD certificant could have his/her credential removed or suspended and be denied the right to register for any of our certification exams for cause such as criminal record or unethical practices. Individuals with information about any certified personnel or individuals looking to register for one of our certification exams should contact the CBSPD.  All calls will remain confidential and all complaints will be thoroughly investigated. Any individual whose credential is suspended/removed or has been denied the right to register for any of our certification exams can appeal the CBSPD’s decision in writing within five business days of notification. The Board will review your appeal and the final decision, made in writing, will be forwarded to you within ten days of receipt of your appeal.