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1.  Purpose of Certification

2.  Scope of Certification

3.  Examination Development and      Administration

4.  Applications for Certification and      Recertification

5.  Examination Timelines

6.  Application Fees

7.  Examination Fees

8.  Annual Maintenance Certification Fee

9.  Refund Policy

10.  Examination Registration

11.  Certification/Recertification Credentialing

12.  Examination Security

13.  Test Site Regulations

14.  Examination Scoring and Reporting

15.  Examination Complaints and Appeals

16.  Certification Designation

17.  Non-Discrimination Policy

18.  Accommodations for Religious Reasons and Disabilities

19.  ABPS Code of Ethics


Examination Registration

Candidates approved to sit for the examination will be notified after review and approval from the Credentials Committee. The notification will include detailed information regarding the examination, as well as an invoice for the examination fee. If a candidate has not received the aforementioned confirmation within two months prior to the date of the examination, please contact the ABPS Certification Department at (813) 433-2277.

Certification/Recertification Credentialing

As a usual and customary procedure, ABPS verifies credentials for both certification and recertification applicants using various sources including, but not limited to, the Federation of State Medical Boards Credentials Verification Service, and the American Medical Association Physicians Profiling Services.


Examination Security

Strict security measures are maintained throughout all phases of examination development and administration. Trained independent proctors supervise the administration of the examination, maintaining the strictest security throughout the testing period. Irregularities observed during the testing period, such as disturbances, giving and/or receiving unauthorized information or aid to other candidates or attempting to remove testing materials and/or notes from the testing room, may be sufficient cause to terminate participation in the examination administration, or invalidate or cancel the scores of the offending candidate(s).

Irregularities may be identified by observation of suspicious activities by examination proctors, or may be evidenced by subsequent statistical analysis of testing materials. The ABPS reserves the right to investigate each incident of misconduct or irregularity reported by a specialty board of certification under its policies on fair process.


Test Site Regulations

  1. All candidates must present photo identification (limited to driver?s license, hospital identification with photograph, or passport) at the test site in order to be permitted to take the examination. No exceptions to this requirement will be made.

  2. Candidates must arrive at the test site at least 30 minutes prior to the announced examination time. Late arrivals will not be admitted to the testing site.

  3. Devices with memory capabilities, books, paper, and/or notes are not permitted in the testing room. Personal possessions such as briefcases, backpacks, or large purses will be collected by the proctors and returned after the test session.

  4. Unauthorized visitors will not be allowed at the test site. Observers approved by the boards of certification may be present during the testing session.


Examination Scoring and Reporting

Written examinations are machine-graded, following the completion of the examination period. Candidates will be given the results of their written examination within 75 days after the examination date. Candidates failing the written examination will not be permitted to take the oral examination (if the specialty board requires an oral examination).

Each oral examination is scored following the examination and before another candidate is tested by oral examiners. The results of the oral examination will be available to candidates after all testing is completed and all scores are recorded, reviewed, and approved by the specialty board of certification.

Candidates will receive their results in writing within 75 days of the examination date.  No information regarding written or oral examination results will be given to candidates verbally.  The total examination process is designed as a professional competency test and is not intended to distinguish between scores achieved above the passing point.  Therefore, no numeric scores will be reported to any candidate. 

Candidates are permitted to take each of the written examinations and oral examinations (applicable only to the specialties requiring oral examinations), as many as three times in order to pass. For specialties requiring an on-site clinical examination, a candidate has a maximum of two opportunities to pass the clinical examination.

If a candidate does not pass all the required examinations within the numbers of allowable attempts, he/she must wait at least one year before reapplying for certification, and must meet the eligibility requirements in effect at the time of the new application. Additionally, the physician must provide verification of courses or seminars taken to remedy deficiencies demonstrated during the examination process.

Request for Hand Scoring
Candidates who fail a written examination may request that their examination be re-scored by hand to verify the results.  Requests must be in writing and must be accompanied by a money order, personal or certified check, in the amount of $300 made payable to ABPS.  Requests for hand scoring will be honored for 30 days after examination results have been released.  All requests must be in writing, signed by the candidate.

Cancellation of Scores
An examinee taking any ABPS Board examination, either written or oral, may elect to cancel his or her scores, provided the request from the candidate is in writing and is received in the ABPS Executive Offices within 10 days after the examination was administered.  ABPS will send an acknowledgment of the cancellation of the score within 5 working days. A candidate who cancels his or her scores will be charged with an attempt on the test, with no indication of a pass/fail status maintained in the candidate's record.  No refunds will be given candidates withdrawing from the examination process.


Examination Complaints and Appeals

  1. Certification examinations should be fairly administered and accurately scored.
  2. A candidate for certification ("Candidate") should be able to raise complaint(s) about the administration, construction or contents of an examination. A Candidate should be able to appeal the results of an examination.
  3. Each Board of Certification shall adopt written procedures for handling complaints and appeals for each written or computer-based examination, oral examination and, if applicable, clinical examination offered by the Board.
  4. Every Candidate shall be provided with a copy of the procedures applicable to any examination upon being approved to take the examination. This will enable a reasonable candidate to familiarize himself or herself with the complaint and appeal procedures.
  5. Prior to being admitted to any examination, a Candidate shall, in writing, acknowledge receipt of a copy of the procedures for that examination and certify that the Candidate is familiar with the procedures for complaints and appeals applicable to that examination.
  6. Any complaint about the conditions or administration of the examination must be raised by the candidate promptly and in writing. The written complaint must be handed to the Proctor at the exam administration site within thirty (30) minutes of the conclusion of the exam. A complaint that could have been addressed before or during the examination but was not raised until later will not be considered, except in extraordinary circumstances.
  7. A Candidate who raised a complaint before or during the exam administration but is unsatisfied with the means by which a complaint about exam conditions or administration was addressed must give written notice thereof, stating the reason(s), immediately following the examination and in all events before the examination is scored. The written complaint must be postmarked within seven (7) days of the examination.
  8. Any complaint about the construction or contents of an examination must be raised promptly and in writing immediately following the examination and in all events before the examination is scored. The written complaint must be postmarked within seven days of the examination.
  9. A Candidate may appeal the scoring of an examination in writing within thirty (30) days of notification of examination results. An appeal shall specify the reason(s) for the appeal. An appeal based on exam conditions, administration, contents or construction cannot be considered unless previously raised in a complaint by the Candidate done in compliance of the above mentioned procedures.
  10. When an appeal is filed, the Candidate shall be provided a Contact Person who will be the Candidate's sole point of contact and source of information until a final ruling by ABPS.
  11. An appeal shall be referred to an Appeals Committee of Diplomates appointed by the Board of Certification in the specialty. The Appeals Committee shall investigate and make a recommendation to ABPS. The ABPS shall rule on the appeal after considering the recommendation of the Appeals Committee.
  12. A Candidate shall be notified in writing of the results of an appeal within two weeks of the Appeals Committee's decision.
  13. The ABPS decision on an appeal shall be final.

Certification Designation

Candidates passing all phases of an examination process will:

  • Receive a certificate suitable for framing.

  • Be permitted to designate themselves as Diplomates of the board of certification in their particular specialty.

  • Be permitted to use and display on business cards and stationery those certification trademarks of the Association appropriate for their particular specialty (such as "œBCEM" for those certified in Emergency Medicine). Additionally, Diplomates making learned presentations at seminars, conferences and similar gatherings may also use and display the logo trademark in their biographical materials provided they advise the audience that their presentations represent their own views, opinions and experiences and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or experiences of the Board or all members of the American Association of Physician Specialists.
(Currently, a ABPS certification trademark is available only to Diplomates in Emergency Medicine.)

Non-Discrimination Policy

ABPS and its affiliated boards of certification do not discriminate against any person on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, medical condition, physical disability, or marital status.


Accommodations for Religious Reasons and Disabilities

The American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) provides alternate testing dates for candidates whose religious practices pose a conflict in taking an examination on the published date. Candidates wishing to request a change in the test because of religious practice must submit to ABPS no less than six weeks before the published examination date a written, signed request for such accommodation. The request must also include the name of the religion and a statement attesting to the religious tenets that restrict such activity such as taking an examination on the date normally scheduled for the examination. ABPS reserves the right to request the candidate to provide documentation from a cleric of the religion verifying the requirements of the religion and that the candidate is currently a practicing member in order for ABPS to honor the request.

ABPS also provides accommodations to candidates with disabilities, as governed by the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). All requests for accommodations due to disabilities governed by ADA must be submitted to ABPS no less than two months before the published examination date. ABPS will make every reasonable effort to provide the accommodations requested, provided they are applicable to your diagnosed disability. For ABPS to provide the accommodations, it may be necessary to administer the examination on a day different from the published date.

Requests for examination administrations with special accommodations must be presented to ABPS on letter-head stationery from a licensed, certified evaluator of your disability, at least two months in advance of the published examination date. The evaluator must provide information regarding his or her specialty, and applicable licenses and certifications. The request for special examination accommodations should include the following information from the evaluator:

  1. Clearly worded statement of the diagnosed disability.
  2. Description of the limitations resulting from the disability.
  3. Complete description of the accommodations being requested.
  4. Comprehensive description of the documentation available to support the diagnosis of the disability and the conclusion that you need the accommodations being requested. All documentation must be current, minimally within the last 5 years for learning disabilities, the last 6 months for psychiatric disabilities: or the last 3 years for all other disabilities which are not permanent physical or sensory nature.
  5. Complete history relevant to the disability for which testing accommodations are being requested, including descriptions of situations in which the same accommodations were provided the applicant.
  6. Explanation describing how the requested testing accommodations are relevant to the disability.

    Depending upon the nature and extent of the accommodations, ABPS reserves the right to schedule the examination on a date different from the published schedule in order to adequately provide the necessary accommodations. If documentation submitted with the request is incomplete or requires significant clarification, it may be necessary to delay the administration with the accommodations to the next published testing date. ABPS advises candidates to submit such requests as early as possible to provide for adequate time to resolve all issues that might arise.

    ABPS administers all of its examinations only in English. Responses from an examinee to examination questions must be in English for the candidate to be eligible to receive credit toward his or her examination score.


ABPS Code of Ethics

As a Diplomate of the American Board of Physician Specialties I pledge myself to:

  • Maintain the highest standard of personal conduct.

  • Promote and encourage the highest level of medical ethics in medicine.

  • Maintain loyalty to the goals and objectives of the American Board of Physician Specialties

  • Recognize and discharge my responsibility and that of the profession to uphold the laws and regulations relating to the practice of medicine.

  • Strive for excellence in all aspects of my medical practice.

  • Use only legal and ethical means in the provision of care to my patients.

  • Provide patient care impartially; provide no special privilege to any individual patient based on the patient?s race, color, creed, sex, national origin or handicap.

  • Accept no personal compensation from any party that would influence or require special consideration in the provision of care to any patient.

  • Maintain the confidentiality of privileged information entrusted or known to me, by virtue of my role as a physician.

  • Cooperate in every reasonable and proper way with other physicians and work with them in the advancement of quality patient care.

  • Use every opportunity to improve public understanding of the role of the physician specialist.

  • Abide by the highest ethical standards in activities designed to attract patients to my practice.
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