During the Exam

Arrival and Check-in

On exam day, it is important for candidates to click the link to connect to the Zoom meeting at the scheduled arrival time, which is approximately 45 minutes prior to the exam start time. Once the candidate is connected to the Zoom meeting, ABEM staff will go through a check-in process that includes an ID check and a video sweep of the candidate’s testing space. Once the check-in process is complete, candidates may have several minutes of downtime before the exam start time. 

If a candidate is not connected to the Zoom meeting and able to complete the full check-in process by the exam start time, they risk losing their exam session.


Candidates will receive an email with a link to the testing site. Once you log in you will be able to view your exam agenda. Check your agenda for the specific start and end times of your exam session.  

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 score cases and virtually move rooms between cases. 

Review Exam Schedule 

Exam Reminders

  • Exam content is confidential and copyrighted.
  • You cannot ever share or discuss exam content with anyone at any time in any format.
  • You cannot access outside information while taking the exam.
  • Anyone who violates these policies are subject to sanctions.

What is allowed during the Oral Exam session?

Allowed Items

All allowed items are subject to inspection by exam staff. You must show ABEM staff any approved items by holding the item up to your computer's 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.
  • Cough drops, small candies, granola or protein bars, or other small snacks. These items cannot be moved or unwrapped during a case administration.

Prohibited Items

  • Watches
  • Beepers or pagers (active or turned off)
  • Cell phones
  • Additional computers and other electronic information storage devices of any kind
  • A second monitor
  • Cameras or recording devices of any kind except for 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

All items are subject to a request for inspection by ABEM. The check-in process will involve a video sweep of your room to ensure there are no prohibited items. 

Dress Code

Your examiners will be dressed in professional business attire. This may include dress slacks and a jacket and tie, dresses, and pantsuits. Exam candidates may choose to dress similarly, but there is no dress code. Attire is not a factor of the evaluation.

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 session.
  • Video Recording: Your camera and microphone will need to remain on for the entirety of the examination and you will need to consent to recording.
  • 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 virtual breakout room, and you are solely in charge of the patient.
  • Conduct: ABEM will ask you to attest 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.