ASCP Cytometry Exam Content Guidelines Per ASCP BOC

Are you looking to get the SCYM ASCP certificate from ASCP?

You must consider the ASCP cytometry exam content guidelines per ASCP BOC to overcome the challenges of the ASCP exam.

The ASCP cytometry exam

  • Composed of 100 MCQs that are derived from exam content areas including, instrumentation, application, data, laboratory operation, and panel/experiment design.
  • 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) are the total time to complete the exam.
  • CAT (Computer Adaptive Testing) is the exam format for SCYM ASCP exam
  • Your pass or fail result will show on your computer screen promptly after finishing the exam.

The ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) awards many certificates to technologists, specialists, technicians, scientists, and pathologists.

The SCYM ASCP (specialist in cytometry) certificate goes to the specialists who are experts in flow cytometry.

To get this license, you have to prove your expertise in the flow cytometry field by passing the ASCP exam.

Passing the ASCP exam is not a child's game; you have to get the greatest command of your area of interest.

To make your journey of ASCP exam preparation easier, the board suggests specific exam content for cytometry.

This guideline informs you about the exam content areas, main topics, and their descriptions.

Here, we will describe the ASCP cytometry exam content guidelines per ASCP BOC for your convenience so that you may know which content areas are related to you, where you need to pay more attention, etc.

Instrumentation ASCP Cytometry Exam Content Guidelines

The instrumentation has four major topics: fluidics, optics, electronics, and troubleshooting.

15-20% of exam questions are obtained from this content area for the SCYM ASCP exam.

ASCP Cytometry Exam Content by MLSiAcademy

Instrumentation main topics classification:


Sample delivery (vacuum, syringe pump, pressure-based, acoustic, etc.), properties of sheath fluids, and Hydrodynamic focusing.


Light source (laser type, arc lamp, laser line, and led); Lenses (collecting, beam shape, objective, focusing); Optical filters (dichroic, band pass, long pass, short pass, polarizing, neutral density); Optical pathway (e.g., interrogation point, transmission, collinear, reflection, light scatter, spatial separation)


Threshold/discriminator, Noise, analog systems vs. digital, amplifiers (logarithmic, linear), detectors (CCD camera, photodiode, photomultiplier tube, avalanche photon detector, and photodiode), pulse measurement (Coulter impedance, time delay, area, width, window extension)


Panel/Experiment Design ASCP Cytometry Exam Content Guidelines

The ASCP Board of Certification picks 25-30% of exam questions from panel/experiment design.

It has two major areas: sample and assay development.


  • Cell enrichment includes magnetic beads, density gradient isolation, cell sorting, etc.
  • Staining and sample preparation comprise permeabilization, fixation, filtering, aggregates,  lysing agents, disaggregation, etc.
  • Sample sources like whole organisms, plants, microorganisms, cultured cells, subcellular components, body fluids,  solid tissue, bone marrow, blood, beads, etc.
  • Sample integrity includes storage viability, handling, and collection.

Assay Development

  • Assay optimization (statistical design, blocking, scalability, kinetics, cell concentration, frequency of target, etc)
  • Assay control (background measurement controls, biological systems control, autofluorescence, FMO [fluorescence minus one])
  • Compensation and spectral overlap
  • Selection of fluorochrome (e.g., signal-to-noise, quenching,  F/P ratio, photostability, optimal combination, protein coexpression, antigen density, etc)
  • Types of probes (fluorescent proteins, tracking dyes, physiological, DNA/viability dyes, antibodies, etc)
  • Functional studies sample states (proliferating, resting, activated, etc)
  • Target (molecule, subcellular location, cell type)

Application ASCP Cytometry Exam Content Guidelines

The content area of the application provides 25-30% of exam questions for the ASCP cytometry exam.

Classifications for applications are:

  • Mass Cytometry
  • Cell Sorting
  • Analysis of small particles
  • Fetal Hemoglobin Assay
  • Imaging Cytometry
  • DNA Ploidy/Cell Cycle
  • Analysis of  Stem Cell (CD34 absolute counts)
  • Multiplex Bead Assays (cytokines, chemokines, proteins)
  • Transplant  of a solid organ (HLA crossmatch, etc)
  • Functional Assays (phospho flow,  calcium flux, chronic granulomatous disease, cytokines, etc)
  • Analysis of rare events (circulating endothelial cells, measurable residual disease, circulating tumor cells)
  • Immunophenotyping (hematologic disorders, immunologic evaluations)

Data ASCP Cytometry Exam Content Guidelines

The data cover 15-20% of questions out of the total.

Further description of data:

  • Data Display: transformations, types of displays, etc.
  • Signal Processing: Background correction, baseline restoration, pulse processing, compensation, binning.
  • Troubleshooting: data quality assessment
  • Techniques for Common Data Modeling:   high-dimensional, ratiometric, phenotyping, proliferation, cell cycle analysis.
  • Gating: regions, gates,  Boolean gating vs. hierarchical
  • Data Standards: storage requirements, MIFlowCyt checklist, list-mode, FCS
  • Format, image file format, etc.
  • Quantitative Cytometry: MESF (molecules of equivalent soluble fluorochrome)
  • Statistical Methods: discriminant analysis,  principal component analysis,cluster analysis, KS statistics, CV, standard deviation, central tendency, etc.

Laboratory Operation ASCP Cytometry Exam Content Guidelines

10-15% of questions are chosen from lab operations.

It comprises four main types, including, quality control, assay validation, laboratory administration, and safety.

Quality Control

  • Optimization of instruments
  • Interpretation and analysis of trends
  • Quality control of reagents (handling, titration, panel verification,  lot-to-lot variation, storage, etc)
  • Integrity of sample
  • Instrument quality control (detector calibration, optical alignment, etc)
  • Selection  of quality control samples (external and internal)


Environmental safety, for instance, techniques for waste disposal.

Chemical safety for example, cytotoxic agents, and mutagenic agents.

Safety of instruments (electronics. lasers, etc.)

Biosafety procedures include decontamination, aerosols, specimen preparation & transport precautions, PPE (personal protective equipment), biosafety categories, etc.

Assay Validation

  • Method calibration: standards, controls, etc.
  • Validation procedures like as reference range, accuracy, linearity, reproducibility, robustness, etc.

Laboratory Administration

  • Quality management: medical-legal issues, continuous quality improvement, etc.,
  • Financial: inventory, purchasing, reimbursement, cost analysis, capital equipment acquisition.
  • Personnel: evaluation & training, performance standards, productivity, and staffing.
  • Operations: information technology, facility management, customer service, etc.

FAQs for ASCP Cytometry Exam Content Guidelines

How can I pass the SCYM ASCP exam?

If you prepare yourself by following the ASCP cytometry exam content guidelines, you can ace the ASCP specialist in cytometry exam on the first attempt.

What is the meaning of the ASCP cytometry exam content guidelines?

The ASCP Board of Certification determines the exam syllabus for all its certification examinations, including the SCYM ASCP. The syllabus for ASCP cytometry is called the ASCP cytometry exam content guidelines.

What is the application fee for ASCP SCYM?

The application fee for ASCP SCYM is $300.

Is passing the ASCP cytometry exam tough?

Yes, of course, all the ASCP exams have a challenging nature. You must monitor the ASCP exam content guidelines wisely and attentively to pass it.

Resources: ASCP BOC.

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