During the Exam


Your meeting invitation will have your start time and the amount of time you need to be available during your exam session. 


You will receive your exam schedule (sample). Check your individual schedule for the specific start and end times of your exam sessions.  

Most cases start at the scheduled time. If a case begins after the scheduled time, you will still have the entire 15 minutes to complete your exam. Time is built into the exam schedule to allow examiners to virtually move rooms between cases.


Candidates are responsible for finding a private testing location. All other computer applications must be closed or turned off. Candidates will be asked to provide a visual scan of the room. Proctors will circulate through sessions. Exam sessions will be recorded. 

What is allowed during the Oral Exam session?

Allowed Items

You will be asked to show ABEM staff any allowed items on your camera.

  • Health aids, such as glasses and asthma inhalers. These items must not have electronic components.
  • Nursing equipment and medical devices contingent upon approval of a courtesy accommodation.
  • Tissues (Kleenex) with no writing.
  • Analog watches with no electronic capabilities.
  • Cough drops, small candies, granola or protein bars, or other small snacks. These items cannot be moved or unwrapped during an exam session.

Prohibited Items

  • Cell phones, beepers, or pagers (active or turned off)
  • Additional computers and other electronic information storage devices of any kind
  • Cameras or recording devices of any kind besides the camera on the computer being used to take the exam
  • MP3 players, iPods, or any digital recorder or player
  • Any electronic storage device, including watches or smartwatches with such functionality
  • Notes or study materials (other than those provided by ABEM for the exam) 
  • Purses, briefcases, or backpacks
  • Overcoats
  • Notepaper, pens, or books

All items are subject to a request for inspection by ABEM.

Dress Code

To eliminate bias, the dress code is professional business attire. For men, this usually means dress slacks and a jacket and tie. For women, this usually means a business appropriate dress or pantsuit. Examiners are also required to wear professional business attire.

Oral Exam Expectations

ABEM expects both examiners and candidates to behave professionally. All unprofessional conduct should be reported to ABEM staff as soon as possible.

Candidate Expectations

The candidate is expected to request any necessary management information, order any tests, and communicate information to hospital staff, patient, and patient’s family. If information is not readily apparent—such as who is in the room with the patient—ask your examiner for the information.

  • Timing: You are expected to be on time for your exam appointment and sessions.
  • Artificial Environment: While there is artificiality in managing an imaginary patient in a virtual setting, you are expected to manage the patient as though he or she is in the room, and you are solely in charge of the patient.
  • Conduct: During the examination, ABEM will ask you to attests to the ABEM Policy on Examination Irregularities, describing how ABEM defines cheating. Please be sure you understand it thoroughly to avoid severe consequences.

Examiner Expectations

ABEM examiners are extensively trained, and each case is reviewed, discussed, and practiced before being given at the exam. All examiners receive performance feedback during and after the examination to help provide consistent case play and scoring.

  • Timing: The examiner is expected to keep time during the examination.
  • Impartiality: For candidates to receive an unbiased assessment of their abilities, let the examiner know that you have interacted with her/him previously and ABEM will assign another examiner to administer the case. This change can happen quickly and will not take time away from your examination.
  • No Feedback: Examiners are trained to remain neutral during the examination.
  • Examiner Roles: The examiner will play different roles, but you may request information from any role in the case. Tell the examiner you would like to “ask the nurse . . .” or “I’d like to speak to the family…”
  • Examiner Characteristics: All ABEM examiners are clinically active, emergency physicians who have been ABEM certified for at least five years.

If Your Examination Experience Did Not Go as Expected

If you think an administrative error was made during a case administration, please continue with the case until it concludes. This allows your case to be scored accurately if ABEM determines that it was administered correctly. Please tell the staff person assigned to your exam session about the suspected error as soon as your case ends. They will arrange for someone to talk to you about the case and provide you with options. Sometimes the examiner will realize they made an error and will report it to the chief examiner.

If it's determined that the case was not administered correctly, that case or some of the ratings may be dropped from scoring.