When to Expect Your Scores

Results are mailed and posted online within 90 days, but typically arrive within 45-60 days of the last scheduled Oral Exam.  ABEM will send an email to candidates notifying them when scores are available. ABEM cannot release your scores over the phone. 

Physicians who pass are recognized as ABEM-certified Emergency Physicians, and begin participating in the ABEM continuing certification process. ABEM certificates are valid for ten years from the day Oral Certification results are recorded. 

Candidates who do not pass the Oral Exam have delayed a step in the certification process. Additional requirements must be met before they can register for the exam again.


Your final score in the mean of your six scored cases. Your examiners determine your individual case scores, which are the mean of their ratings in each of eight rating scales (described below). Some ratings are driven by predetermined behaviors called “critical actions.” Each of these actions is associated with a performance rating scale. Critical actions do not include all the behaviors expected of candidates, but rather, guide examiners’ scoring by pointing out actions that best distinguish acceptable or unacceptable performance. If you perform a critical action, the examiner typically scores at least a 5 on the associated rating scale. If you do not perform a critical action, the examiner will likely score you a 4 or lower on the associated rating scale.

Rating Scales

In each case, your examiners will score you on eight performance ratings:

  • Data Acquisition: Collecting critical patient information.
  • Problem Solving: Using critical information to manage patients.
  • Patient Management: Making appropriate treatment decisions.
  • Resource Utilization: Using the resources at your disposal to care for patients.
  • Health Care Provided (Outcome): The actual outcome of the patient's health after receiving your care.
  • Interpersonal Relations and Communication Skills: Clearly communicating with your patient, family, and medical staff.
  • Comprehension of Pathophysiology: Understanding the case from a medical science standpoint, rather than memorized routine.
  • Clinical Competence (Overall): How well you handled the types of conditions or problems presented in the case.
Detailed Performance Criteria

Examiners assign a score from 1 to 8 on each rating scale using the following general guidelines:

  • Very Acceptable (7,8): The candidate confidently and correctly collected data and gave a diagnosis, managed patients with current and accepted techniques, and showed anticipation of and concern for the psychological, sociological, and economic patient needs.
  • Acceptable (5,6): There were several minor inefficiencies or errors in the case management. Candidate showed an underlying working knowledge for safe medical practice. The patient had adequate care without significant, unnecessary pain, or life-threatening procedures or medications.
  • Unacceptable (3,4): One or more critical actions were not taken, or dangerous actions were taken. Health care may have been incomplete, unorganized, or generally unsatisfactory. The candidate demonstrated partially inadequate knowledge of the pathophysiology of the problem.
  • Very Unacceptable (1,2): Candidate was unable to proceed beyond routine data acquisition and management because he or she lacked knowledge of the presented pathology. Gross negligence or gross mismanagement was observed, and the candidate was without self-awareness of his or her own inadequacies.

Additional scoring criteria or indications of good, bad, or neutral behavior are provided to the examiner, but the final score is at the discretion of each individual examiner. Earning a score of 5 or above is not an indication of success or failure on a case or the OCE. For more information on the passing score, please refer to “Passing Scores” below. Sample scoring sheets are available here:

Sample score sheet and rating scales

How ABEM Determines a Passing Score

ABEM does not use quotas or passing percentages to determine a passing score. Following each exam, a representative sample of examiners recommend the passing score in a process known as standard setting. Candidate performance is compared to the Board's performance expectations using ABEM's KSAs. The final passing score is approved by the Board following each exam administration.