Member Board of the American Board of Medical Specialties


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Summary of Changes Relating to Oral Exam Retakes and Deadline

Summary of Changes Relating to Oral Exam Retakes and Deadline

  1. Commencing in May 2017, one session of the oral examination is devoted to questioning on a candidate’s own cases.
  2. Cases used in the examination (typically 8-10) are selected from the 125 cases that the candidate has submitted as part of the application and credentialing process.
  3. Candidates who fail the oral examination (regardless of which session(s) the candidate failed), and who seek to retake the examination have an option with respect to the session of the oral exam retake devoted to questioning on the candidate’s own cases. (A.) they may elect to be questioned on cases from their initially submitted case data (some limitations may apply); or (b.) they can elect to submit 75 new consecutive cases, from which the ABNS will select the 8-10 cases that will be used in the retake of the oral examination.
  4. If the candidate elects to be questioned on their initially submitted case data, the cases selected for the retake will be different from the cases selected in the initial examination.
  5. If the candidate elects to submit new cases, the cases must be submitted in the same manner as the original data and they must be consecutive cases. The date of the first case can be any time the candidate chooses, if it is not more than 12 months prior to the date the candidate last failed the oral examination. (For example, if the candidate failed the oral examination in November 2018, the date of the first case of the new data submission cannot be earlier than November 2017). The submission is subject to audit and if the ABNS discovers that the cases were not consecutive or that the data submitted is inaccurate, then the candidate may be permanently excluded from the certification process. If the candidate selects this option, the cases will again be reviewed as in the original credentialing process and must be approved prior to scheduling the candidate for retaking the oral examination.
  6. If the candidate fails a second time, they will be required to submit 75 new consecutive cases, unless a new data set had already been submitted following the first failure.
  7. Notwithstanding these changes, the following deadlines still apply: (a) the candidate must successfully complete the entire certification process within seven years of completing residency (except if for example that residency is completed on June 20, then the candidate has until December 31, of the 7th year to compete the process); (b) applications for retaking the oral examination must be submitted within 18 months of the date the candidate took the examination that they failed; (c) candidates must be scheduled to retake the oral examination no later than two years from the date of the examination that they failed. After three oral examination failures a candidate is no longer in the certification process and must restart the entire process over if they wish to become certified.
  8. As a result of the above deadlines, it may not be possible for a candidate to submit new case data for both a second and third examination within the required time frames unless the candidate is aggressive about submitting the oral examination applications and beginning the case collection process as soon as possible.
  9. As a result of this process and the above deadlines and to give candidates the greatest opportunity to take the oral examination with new cases three times (as applicable) within the mandated timeframes, the ABNS is changing the deadline for submission of the initial application for oral examination. For all candidates who complete residency on or after June 30, 2017, the deadline of submission is now December 31st of the calendar year that is three years following the completion of their residency training (e.g., a candidate who completed their residency training on June 30, 2017 would be required to submit a completed application no later than December 31, 2020). This is a change from the previous deadline, which was December 31st of the calendar year that was four years following the completion of a candidate’s residency training. Candidates who completed residency prior to June 30, 2017 are still subject to the four-year deadline.
  10. Candidates are urged to be diligent and to submit their completed application (with all elements, including case data) as soon as possible after the completion of residency. For most candidates, it should be possible to submit completed applications within 24-30 months following residency.
  11. Please carefully review the “Deadlines for Submission” page which gives additional information on the submission deadlines and requests for extensions.

Please note: These rules and processes are subject to additional modification in the future. The ABNS will provide advance notice of additional changes. Candidates are advised to periodically check the ABNS website for updates and information.