• Oral Examination Requirements and Process

    Physicians who pass the qualifying examination are randomly assigned to one of the two oral certification examination administrations offered during the next calendar year. The administrations are held in the spring and the fall of each year at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare Hotel. The Pathway to the Oral Examination brochure is mailed to candidates with their qualifying examination pass letters. This brochure contains important dates for candidates in the oral examination process.



    In mid-January each year, ABEM begins sending oral certification examination assignments to physicians. Physicians who receive assignments for the spring administration will also receive the Examination Registration Form and Bill for Examination Fee and hotel information. Physicians who are assigned to the fall oral certification examination receive registration and hotel information in June. Deadline dates and fees are included with the assignment information.

    To accept their examination assignments and register for the examination, physicians must return their oral examination registration materials by the deadline date specified for their examination. If a physician accepts an assignment, he or she must also send a photograph and full payment of the examination fee. Final confirmation of seating is dependent on full payment of fees and receipt of all required materials and information.

    Approximately 30 days before the oral certification examination, ABEM sends each physician with a confirmed registration the Examination Information for Candidates booklet. It includes confirmation of examination seating, a DVD illustrating the examination process, hotel and travel information, examination logistics, and other information regarding the examination.

    Taking the Examination

    An examination session consists of 1) registration, 2) an orientation session, 3) the examination. Candidates are expected to attend all three components of the session to which they are assigned. Candidates who do not arrive by the beginning of the orientation session for their assigned examination session are at risk of losing their examination seat.

    Candidates may not have any items with them in the examination room except for their examination schedule. Excluded items include, but are not limited to, food items, briefcases, purses, “fanny” packs, notepaper, cameras, tape players or records, calculators, timepieces with calculators, pens, books, luggage, cell phones, beepers, study materials and the Examination Information for Candidates booklet. Computers and electronic information storage system devices may not be brought into the examination room. This includes, but is not limited to, hand-held, pocket, laptop, or any similar devices.

    Candidates should make adequate arrangements for storing personal possessions before arriving at the examination. Personal possessions will not be allowed in the examination room and proctors cannot secure personal possessions for candidates. Candidates should contact the hotel regarding options for storing personal possessions during the examination.

    Smoking is not permitted in the examination rooms or in the waiting area on the examination floors.

    Scoring the Examination

    Results Communication

    Physicians are notified of examination results in writing within 90 days of the examination administration. ABEM posts on the News and Notices section of the website the date on which results are mailed. Physicians should not call ABEM to inquire about the mailing date of results prior to the posted mailing date.

    To ensure the confidentiality of examination results, all information is sent to candidates in written form. Results are not provided over the telephone or via facsimile transmission. Requests to have results mailed to a temporary or new address must be submitted in writing with the candidate’s signature to ABEM, either by mail or facsimile transmission.

    Next Steps

    All candidates who successfully complete both the qualifying and the oral certification examinations become diplomates of ABEM. Diplomates receive certificates that are dated from the date of the oral certification examination results letter through December 31 ten years hence. Diplomates participate in ABEM’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program to continue their ABEM certification.

    All diplomate certificates remain the property of ABEM. Any certificate issued by ABEM will be subject to revocation at any time should ABEM determine, in its sole judgment, that a diplomate who has received a certificate was in some respect not properly qualified to receive or retain it. Link to Policy on Certificates.

    Oral certification examination candidates who fail an examination, decline an examination assignment, do not appear for any examination for which they are registered, or do not respond to the examination assignment, are placed in inactive status. ABEM recommends that oral examination candidates reactivate their status promptly as rescheduling for the oral certification examination may take up to a year or more from the postmark date of the status reactivation request.

    For reactivated candidates, ABEM maintains a wait-list for each oral certification examination administration. The Policy on Maintaining Open and Active Certification Applications, describes the procedure to request placement on the wait-list.

    Candidates may take the oral certification examination as many times as necessary, paying the fees which pertain at the time of the examination, as long as they take an examination at least once every three years.

    Examination activity in a closed file cannot be transferred to a new application. To begin the certification process again, a new application must be submitted, reviewed and approved, fulfilling current credentialing requirements.

    Initial Certification Policy Index