At the Exam


Your appointment letter will have your arrival time and the amount of time you need to be available at the exam site. You will receive your exam schedule (sample) at onsite registration. Check your individual schedule for the specific start and end times of your exam sessions.


Each Oral Exam session includes a registration period, group orientation session, and testing.

Find the Upcoming Oral Exam Schedule.

If you miss the beginning of your scheduled candidate orientation session, you risk losing 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 or 30 minutes to complete your exam. Time is built into the exam schedule to allow candidates to move between exam rooms.

eOral Practice Room

ABEM provides an onsite practice room at the exam hotel with several eOral stations. The room is busiest the hour before each exam session, but practice stations are available the entire day. Most candidates have found ten minutes of review to be enough to learn how to operate the eOral software.

eOral Practice Room Hours 

Candidate App Information sheet

To get familiar with the eOral interface, review sample cases and a video of an eOral case.

What is allowed on the Oral Exam floor?

Allowed Items

All allowed items are subject to inspection by examination staff.

  • 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.
  • Feminine hygiene products.
  • Wallets with no electronic capabilities.
  • Analog watches with no electronic capabilities.
  • Cough drops, small candies, granola or protein bars, or other small snacks that fit in your pocket. These items cannot be removed or unwrapped on the exam floor or in the exam room.

Prohibited Items

  • Cell phones, beepers, or pagers (active or turned off)
  • Computers and electronic information storage devices of any kind
  • Cameras or recording devices of any kind
  • MP3 players, iPods, or any digital recorder or player
  • Any electronic storage device, including watches or smartwatches with such functionality
  • Notes or study materials
  • Purses, briefcases, or backpacks
  • Overcoats
  • Notepaper, pens, or books
  • Hotel luggage

Make arrangements for storing personal possessions before arriving at the exam. ABEM cannot secure these items for you. ABEM arranges storage space for candidates at the hotel for each exam session. Contact the hotel for information about storage options.

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 on the exam floor at least ten minutes before your next exam, and you are responsible for tracking your case schedule.
  • Artificial Environment: While there is artificiality in managing an imaginary patient in a hotel room, 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: At the examination, ABEM will ask you to sign a document stating you understand 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 on your floor 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.