At The Exam

What to Take to the Exam


Bring your ID or another form of acceptable identification with you. Make sure your name matches what you have provided to ABEM and that Pearson VUE now has on file.

Any of the following is acceptable:

  • Driver’s license
  • State identification card
  • Passport
  • Military identification

The following types of ID are not acceptable:

  • Employee identification badges
  • Hospital identification
  • School IDs
  • Alien registration cards
  • Credit cards

Allowed Items

You may take health-related items, such as eyeglasses and hearing aids, into the testing room. The test administrator reserves the right to inspect these and any other health-related items, such as facial tissues and cough drops, before allowing you to enter the testing room.

Prohibited Items

Prohibited items include, but are not limited to:

  • Cell phones, smartphones, beepers, or pagers (even if they are 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 with such functionality
  • Notes or study materials
  • Purses or briefcases
  • Backpacks or similar packs
  • Overcoats
  • Notepaper, pens, pencils, or books
  • Luggage

It is impossible for test center staff to distinguish between an innocent call home and a call to access information about a test question. Therefore, prohibited electronic items are not permitted in the testing room, even if turned off, and may not be accessed during the entire examination appointment. For example, accessing a cell phone or any other possible external information source when taking an unscheduled break during the examination is considered cheating and a violation of the Policy on Examination Irregularities. The test administrator is obligated to report the incident to ABEM.

Any personal items candidates take to the testing center may be stored outside the testing room for the duration of the examination appointment in small, secure lockers provided by the testing center. Candidates are permitted to take storage locker keys into the testing room.

Check-in for the Qualifying Examination

Arrive at the Pearson VUE testing center at least 30 minutes before your designated time. Check-in with the Pearson VUE test administrator located at the registration desk. ABEM does not issue an “entrance ticket” or identification number to take the exam; however, you may present the appointment confirmation notice you received from Pearson VUE to expedite the check-in process.

The test administrator will review identification and take your photograph, signature, and an infrared palm vein image. This information is used solely for the purpose of confirming identity, is held in the strictest confidence by Pearson VUE, and is not released to third parties. The photo taken will be used to identify candidates through the entire ABEM Initial Certification process, including registering for and taking the Oral Certification Examination. If you have received ABEM approval for testing accommodations, notify the test administrator at check-in. It may be helpful to present the letter from ABEM confirming the nature of the accommodations granted.

After reviewing the testing center’s rules of agreement, you will be provided a laminated dry-erase board and marker for taking notes during the examination. (Your examination answers will be recorded using a computer.)

Allow time to store personal items and items prohibited from the testing room in a secure locker provided within the testing center. If you arrive more than 30 minutes after your scheduled appointment time, the testing center may not be able to seat you. You may reschedule your appointment within the examination administration if appointments are available.

Taking the Qualifying Examination

After check-in, the Pearson VUE test administrator will seat you in the testing room. Each Qualifying Exam appointment is 8 hours in length. However, only 6 hours and 20 minutes of this time is actual testing time, which is divided into two separately timed testing sessions.

Approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes of the appointment time is devoted to a one-hour scheduled break between the two testing sessions, and several accessory activities related to the exam administration. These accessory activities include acceptance of the ABEM Policy on Examination Irregularities, an optional test tutorial, examination instructions, and a candidate survey.

Test Tutorial

A tutorial is provided at the start of the examination to help you familiarize yourself with the computer format. The tutorial is optional, but ABEM strongly recommends that you take it, as it may give you tips that will save time and frustration. Because the tutorial is timed separately, if you choose not to take the tutorial, no additional testing time beyond the standard 6 hours and 20 minutes hours will be allowed for taking the Qualifying Examination itself.

Exam Instructions

There is a brief summary of important facts immediately preceding the start of the exam and the second section of the exam after the scheduled break. This summary includes the number of exam questions, procedures for leaving the testing room, and other information related to taking the Qualifying Examination.

Scheduled and Unscheduled Breaks

Take your allowed scheduled break between the two timed testing sessions, if needed.

If you take an unscheduled break during a timed testing session, do not leave the testing center, access outside information, or use a cell phone, as that may invalidate your examination.

  • A 1-hour break is scheduled between the two books or sections of the examination, midway through the 6 hours and 20 minutes testing session.
  • You can leave the testing building during this scheduled break, but must return in a timely manner or risk losing testing time on the remainder of the examination.
  • The timer for the second section of the examination will begin immediately following the hour-long, scheduled break, regardless of whether you have returned to your seat.
  • While on an unscheduled break, you may NOT leave the building.
  • Accessing prohibited items such as cell phones, laptops, tablet computers, exam notes, or study guides during an unscheduled break is a violation of the ABEM Policy on Examination Irregularities.

Leaving the Testing Room

  • You may leave the testing room during the exam appointment after notifying the test administrator. However, the exam timer will remain running while you are out of the testing room, except when you are on the scheduled, hour-long break.
  • You are required to provide an infrared palm vein image when you re-enter the testing room.
  • If you finish the exam early, you may leave the testing room. Once you check out of the testing center and receive an examination confirmation receipt, you may not re-enter the testing room.

Candidate Survey

A brief, optional survey is available after taking the Qualifying Exam. ABEM encourages you to complete it so the Board can benefit from your experiences. If you choose not to complete this questionnaire, no additional testing time beyond the standard 6 hours and 20 minutes will be allowed for taking the Qualifying Exam itself.

Additional Information

  • There is no smoking allowed in the testing center.
  • Refreshments are not provided.
  • No food or drink is permitted in the testing room. Snacks can be stored in the small lockers provided by the testing center and may be accessed as needed by taking breaks during the exam.
  • You cannot make or receive phone calls during your exam administration except during the scheduled, hour-long break.
  • Messages will not be given to candidates during their exam unless it is an emergency. If the testing center receives a message for you, the test administrator will give you the message when you have completed your exam and have checked out.
  • If you have a question while testing, or if you have finished taking your exam, raise your hand for a test administrator.

After the Exam

Once finished with your exam, return the locker key and dry-erase board to the test administrator. Receive your examination confirmation receipt from the test administrator before leaving the testing center.