Sitting for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE)

Published on March 29, 2019 by

Student taking VTNE examTo work as a veterinary technician in most states, a license or certification to practice is necessary. While education and training needs vary, a passing score on the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) is required.

What is the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE)?

The VTNE is the national exam used by most states to evaluate competency to practice as a veterinary technician. The exam was developed by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) as a nationwide assessment before being allowed to work as a veterinary technician.

To take the exam, candidates must meet their state’s eligibility conditions. Most require successful completion of a veterinary technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, plus a passing grade on the VTNE.

Veterinary Technician National Exam Format

The VTNE consists of 170 questions, but only 150 count toward the final score. The extra 20 are pilot questions. The VTNE includes this for possible inclusion in future versions of the exam.

Each question is multiple choice. Candidates have up to four hours to complete the test. Questions are written by veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Questions are from different areas in animal medicine and cover multiple species. However, the majority of questions are related to the treatment of dogs and cats.

The VTNE assesses a candidate’s knowledge in seven areas,  including pharmacology, anesthesia, surgical assisting, laboratory procedures, diagnostic imaging, veterinary dentistry and general knowledge.

General Pharmacology

The VTNE features pharmacology questions evaluate the candidate’s ability to safely prepare, dispense, store, administer and teach clients about medications and biological agents. This excludes anesthesia and pain relievers. Questions may require dosage calculations and measurement conversions.

Example Question:

Which medication may be prescribed for a dog with constipation?

  1. Aspirin
  2. Ranitidine
  3. Bisacodyl
  4. Morphine


  1. Bisacodyl is a stimulant laxative used by veterinarians to alleviate constipation in dogs and cats.

Anesthesia and Analgesia

This area of the VTNE covers the operation and maintenance of anesthetic equipment, administration of anesthesia and topics in pain management.

Example Question:

After receiving anesthesia for elective surgery, a healthy Bull Mastiff develops a sudden fever and tachycardia. Which condition does this likely reflect?

  1. Pain
  2. Liver disease
  3. Malignant Hyperthermia
  4. Cardiac arrest


  1. Malignant Hypertension is a hypertensive emergency that occurs as a result of inhaled anesthesia. It’s related to abnormal calcium regulation and is more likely to occur in heavily muscled breeds.

Surgical Assisting

This section of the Veterinary Technician National Exam covers principles including how to prepare and maintain the surgical environment, preparation of the patient and sterile and non-sterile assisting techniques.

Example Question:

A veterinarian preparing to pin a cat’s fractured leg may need which of these tools?

  1. Periodontal elevator
  2. Jacobs chuck
  3. Spay hook
  4. Eye speculum


  1. A Jacobs chuck is a type of clamp used to hold pins.

Laboratory Procedures

Questions in this section of the Veterinary Technician National Exam assess the candidate’s ability to obtain, prepare and preserve specimens for testing, maintain equipment and perform essential procedures in cytology, hematology, parasitology, urology and more.

Example Question:

Which canine parasite cannot be found in a fecal sample?

  1. Roundworm
  2. Hookworm
  3. Whipworm
  4. Heartworm


  1. Roundworm, hookworm and whipworm eggs are found in stool. Heartworm is a blood parasite that requires a blood test to diagnose.

Diagnostic Imaging

This section of the VTNE tests knowledge related to taking quality diagnostic images, operating and maintaining imaging equipment and following safety protocols.

Example Question:

Veterinary technicians wear lead aprons while taking x-rays to protect them from which of these?

  1. Scratches
  2. Lung infection
  3. Radiation
  4. Flammable solutions


  1. Lead is an effective barrier against radiation.

Veterinary Dentistry

Dentistry questions relate to the preparation of equipment, performing or assisting with dental procedures and educating pet owners about the importance of dental health.

Example Question:

Which chew toy material is safest for a dog’s teeth?

  1. Nylon rope
  2. Rawhide
  3. Dense rubber
  4. Bone


  1. Dense rubber is safest. Nylon rope, rawhide and bone damages a dog’s gums.

General Knowledge and Nursing Care

Nursing questions make up the largest percentage of the VTNE and covers:

Example Question:

Cat Scratch Disease in humans is caused by which of these?

  1. Intestinal parasites
  2. Bacteria
  3. Viruses
  4. Fungi


  1. The Bartonella henselae bacterium causes Cat Scratch Disease.

Each section of the test makes up a percentage of the exam, and although the number of questions in each varies slightly as new versions are released.

Scheduling the Test

AAVSB recommends that the candidate verifies exam eligibility with state licensing agencies before they submit an application. Testing procedures ensures uniform results. If someone requires special accommodations, you can work with the AAVSB directly. Once the application is approved, the date, time and location are e-mailed to the candidate.

Practicing for the Exam

As a national exam, the VTNE covers broad, relevant topics. Review early and focus on your areas of weakness. Knowledge is the key, but strategies like these can be helpful.

Preparing for the VTNE

Take Your Time

Helpful Guidelines

Scoring and Retakes

You will see your score after completing the test. Results are not official until further review, and answers to questions are not available. Official scores are posted 3-4 weeks after the exam and are also sent to the candidate’s state licensing board.

From March 2014 to February 2017, the initial pass rate for the VTNE was 76%. The exam may be retaken up to five times. Select states require approval from the AAVSB before re-taking the test after five attempts.

Benefits of License or Certification

Today, most states have requirements for veterinary technicians. Animal assistants may work without them, but their responsibilities are limited. Passing the VTNE not only allows trained veterinary technicians to function at their highest level, but it also demonstrates competency to employers.

In states where no certification is needed, professional veterinary organizations advocate for change to improve standards for animal care. As technology advances, assuring the public that only professionals are taking care of their pets is vital.

Credentials and the AAVSB

It’s important to remember, however, that the AAVSB doesn’t give veterinary technicians their credentials. That’s done only by state licensing agencies to ensure that applicants meet all requirements. However, passing the VTNE is essential to obtaining a license or certification.

Want to Learn More?

Did learning about the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

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