Exam Content

Content Specifications

Oral Exams are developed from actual clinical cases. Exam editors are all clinically active emergency physicians who identify case topics that meet content specifications. These cases undergo a rigorous development and review process before they are ready for exam use.

ABEM selects cases based on how closely the clinical content aligns with the EM Model. While these cases can originate from any content area within the model, some areas are routinely selected.

Case Content

  • 1.0 Signs, Symptoms, and Presentations
  • 2.0 Abdominal & Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • 3.0 Cardiovascular Disorders*
  • 4.0 Cutaneous Disorders
  • 5.0 Endocrine, Metabolic, & Nutritional Disorders
  • 6.0 Environmental Disorders
  • 7.0 Head, Ear, Eye, Nose, & Throat Disorders
  • 8.0 Hematologic Disorders
  • 9.0 Immune System Disorders
  • 10.0 Systemic Infectious Disorders*
  • 11.0 Musculoskeletal Disorders (Non-traumatic)
  • 12.0 Nervous System Disorders
  • 13.0 Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • 14.0 Psycho behavioral Disorders
  • 15.0 Renal and Urogenital Disorders
  • 16.0 Thoracic-Respiratory Disorders*
  • 17.0 Toxicologic Disorders
  • 18.0 Traumatic Disorders*
  • 19.0 Procedures & Skills
  • 20.0 Other Components

Blueprint Specifications

The Oral Certification Examination (OCE) was recently revised to reflect the transition to a virtual format and changes to the type, number, and composition of cases. Specifically, the new blueprint states that the OCE:

  • consists of 7 cases: 4-6 standardized single-patient encounters and 1-3 structured interviews
  • case content and patient encounters from any area of the EM Model, although candidates should expect to see cases with the following high frequency underlying conditions:
    • Cardiovascular Disorders
    • Traumatic Disorders
    • Thoracic-Respiratory Disorders
    • Systemic Infectious Disorders
  • will generally include at least one pediatric and one geriatric case
  • will include over 50% of cases with critical acuity
  • will assess skills and abilities in the following areas derived from the ABEM Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs):
Skill or Ability Approximate
Percentage by
 Communication  10-15
 Data Gathering  10-15
 Synthesis  20-30
 Management  15-25
 Disposition  15-25
 Judgement or Other   10-15

The blueprint was approved by the Board January 2023.

Case Types and Samples
Video: Sample Structured Interview