• Oral Examination Description and Content Specifications

    Examination Description

    The oral certification examination is a standardized oral examination that tests the application of Emergency Medicine knowledge using scenarios based on actual clinical cases. The examination requires approximately five hours to complete and includes seven simulated patient encounters: five single-patient encounters and two multiple-patient encounters. The oral certification examination is administered twice per year.

    Content Specifications

    The oral examination blueprint functions as a general guideline for ABEM in constructing each examination. ABEM selects cases based on their clinical content as defined by The Model of the Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine (EM Model), and cases appearing on the oral examination can originate from any content area within the EM Model. However, specific areas within the EM Model are routinely emphasized. The lists below identify those content areas within each dimension of the EM Model that are typically emphasized on each oral examination and from which cases are routinely selected.

    Listing of Conditions & Components


    Signs, Symptoms and Presentations


    Abdominal & Gastrointestinal Disorders


    Cardiovascular Disorders


    Cutaneous Disorders


    Endocrine, Metabolic & Nutritional Disorders


    Environmental Disorders


    Head, Ear, Eye, Nose & Throat Disorders


    Hematologic Disorders


    Immune System Disorders


    Systemic Infectious Disorders


    Musculoskeletal Disorders (Non-traumatic)


    Nervous System Disorders


    Obstetrics and Gynecology


    Psychobehavioral Disorders


    Renal and Urogenital Disorders


    Thoracic-Respiratory Disorders


    Toxicologic Disorders


    Traumatic Disorders

    Appendix I: Procedures & Skills

    Appendix II: Other Components

    Bold = area of emphasis

    Physician Tasks

    The Modifying Factor of Pediatrics is routinely emphasized.

    Acuity Frames

    Critical: approximately 2/3 of total cases

    Emergent: approximately 1/3 of total cases

    Examination Criteria

    A candidate will pass the oral certification examination by meeting either of two pass/fail criteria. First, the average of the candidate’s scores on the eight performance criteria for each case that is not a field-test case is computed. This average is then compared to ABEM’s criterion of 5.75. The candidate passes if the rating average is 5.75 or greater. Second, the candidate’s scores on the eight performance criteria for each case which is not a field-test case are averaged to create six individual case scores. The highest and lowest case scores are averaged, and the candidate passes if this score and the remaining four case scores are 5.0 or above. ABEM reserves the right to include in any examination certain questions or cases for the purposes of research and validation. These items will not enter into the scoring for the purpose of certification.