Specialty Qualifying Exam
An Overview About the Qualifying Exam
The Qualifying Exam is "Step 1" of a 2-step exam process toward securing specialty board certification. As a Candidate, there are several important points about the Qualifying Exam that you should know:
- If you are graduating from residency after May 31, 2020, you must successfully complete the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) program in order to take the Qualifying Examination.
- FLS should be completed by December 18, 2019. If you are concerned that you will not meet this deadline, contact the Exam Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you know you'll be lactating on your test date, you can request a 30-minute break and extension of your exam. You must notify ABOG no later than December 18, 2019, and schedule at a Pearson VUE Testing Center by the same date.
- Most Pearson VUE Testing Centers have only one room that is available for breast pumping, so you're encouraged to make your reservations as soon as you receive approval for the test. Rooms are assigned on a “first-come, first-served” basis.
- If no seat is available at your preferred testing center, you will have to travel to a Pearson VUE location with availability.
- Be sure to meet all deadlines for submission of applications, fees, and other required materials. Deadlines are based on the receipt of the material at the ABOG office and can't be extended.
- It's critical to keep your personal email and mailing addresses updated in the profile section of your personal ABOG home page. You should use a personal email address because a hospital or university email address may be closed after completion of your residency training.
- It is not necessary to have a medical license to sit for the Qualifying Exam. However, if a medical license is held, it must be unrestricted without conditions. An unrestricted medical license is required to apply for the Certifying Examination.
- Make sure you're familiar with all of the information included in ABOG Policies.
- All candidates must achieve board certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology within 8 years of completion of training. If certification is not achieved within 8 years, you're no longer eligible to apply for either the Qualifying or Certifying Exams unless you complete a minimum of 6 months of supervised practice to regain eligibility. See complete details about Regaining Eligibility for OB GYN Certification.
Application Process for the Qualifying Exam
- Log in to your personal profile page in ABOG's physician portal.
- You will need your ABOG ID number. Obtain your ABOG ID number from your residency manager (the number is available in the Residency Coordinator System).
- Applications are only accepted online and are available on your personal page in the physician portal beginning September 17, 2019. Late fees will apply for applications received after the October 18, 2019, deadline.
- December 18, 2019, is the final deadline for receipt of an application to take the June 2020 Qualifying Exam.
- You'll need to pay the Qualifying Examination fee in full by credit card at the time of the application. All fees are quoted and must be paid in US dollars.
- ABOG will send you an email at the email address provided during the application process once you're approved to take the Qualifying Exam.
- The same email will also have instructions for contacting a Pearson VUE Testing Center to schedule your seat for the exam. It's important that your email address and physical mailing address are current and correct.
- As soon as you get the ABOG email with approval and exam reservation instructions, contact the Pearson VUE Testing Center to secure your seat to take the exam. Seats at Pearson VUE Testing Centers in individual cities are limited and assigned on a “first-come, first-served” basis.
- There is also a time limit to reserving your seat, and you can't get a refund if you are unable to secure your seat at your preferred exam center.
- If you need special accommodations for a disability, please submit that request to ABOG no later than December 18, 2019. Contact: email@example.com.
- If you're lactating, you can request a 30-minute break and extension of your exam if you notify ABOG no later than December 18, 2019, (contact firstname.lastname@example.org) and schedule at a Pearson VUE Testing Center by the same date in December. ABOG cannot guarantee that it will be possible to schedule an extended test. More details on lactation accommodations.
Residency Requirements for the Qualifying Exam
- All applicants must hold a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree.
- 48 months of graduate medical education in an Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program(s) that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) at the time of training completion.
- Completing residency training after September 30th makes you ineligible to take the Qualifying Exam in that calendar year.
- Or, completion of no less than 60 months in a clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology program(s) accredited by the Council of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (CRCPSC) no later than September 30th.
- A minimum of 48 months of training for Canadian candidates must be in Obstetrics and Gynecology. No credit for training outside of Canada can be counted toward meeting the 60-month training requirement.
- Or, 48 months in an American Osteopathic Association (AOA) accredited program that achieves ACGME accreditation prior to your graduation.
- No credit will be given for residency training in programs accredited by any other body, including ACGME-International.
- As a resident, you're expected to take allotted vacation time. Foregoing vacation time or necessary sick leave to shorten the required 48 months of training or to “make up” for time lost due to sickness or other absence is not permitted.
- Either in Program Year 3 (PGY3) or in year 4, your residency program must include the responsibilities of a chief (senior) resident in accordance with the description of the program as accredited by the ACGME.
- Residents who receive credit for time spent in a non-ACGME-approved residency program must serve their senior year as a PGY4. (See section below, "Flexibility in Your Residency Training".)
- When a resident’s graduate education and clinical experience have been gained in more than one residency program, the Qualifying Exam application must be accompanied by verification of your satisfactory performance in each program.
- Fewer than 6 months in any OB-GYN residency program will not count toward meeting the 48-month requirement.
Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery
- If you are graduating from residency after May 31, 2020, you must successfully complete the FLS program in order to take the Qualifying Examination.
- FLS certification should be completed by December 18, 2019. Candidates will be notified if ABOG has received documentation of FLS Certification on their ABOG Personal Page and by email.
- If a candidate has not been notified that ABOG has received confirmation of FLS certification, follow these instructions to submit a certificate.
- Save the certificate as a PDF and name the file as follows: ABOG ID_Last Name_FLS. Example: 123456_Smith_FLS
- Send your FLS certificate via email to email@example.com with the subject line "FLS Certificate".
- If you have concerns about completing the FLS program by the December 18, 2019 deadline contact ABOG Exams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- No application late fees will be charged due to difficulties meeting the FLS requirement.
Flexibility in Your Residency Training
- If you have a firm commitment to a position in an ACGME-accredited subspecialty fellowship, you may be allowed flexibility in your residency training program.
- To be eligible, your residency Program Director must submit a request to ABOG prior to the start of your PGY3 year.
- If ABOG approves, the PGY3 year must be served as a senior resident, with duties and responsibilities similar to those of a PGY4 resident.
- If you satisfactorily complete your PGY3 senior resident year, you may begin the subspecialty fellowship in PGY4. If the fellowship is not completed successfully, you must return to a residency program and complete a full 12-month PGY4.
- Credit received for training in a non- OB-GYN ACGME-accredited residency training program disqualifies you from the flexibility option.
- You can be granted up to 6 months credit for previous training in a non- ob-gyn ACGME-accredited residency if you're entering an ACGME-accredited ob-gyn residency. Your OB-GYN residency Program Director must request approval for a specific number of months—not to exceed 6—prior to the start of the PGY4 year.
Leaves of Absence, Vacation, and Sick Time
Leaves of absence and vacation can be granted at the discretion of the Program Director in accordance with local policy.
- But the total of such vacation and leaves for any reason—including, but not limited to, vacation, sick leave, maternity or paternity leave, job interviews or personal leave - may not exceed 8 weeks in any of the four (4) years of residency training.
- If any of these maximum weeks of leave per year are exceeded, the residency must be extended for the duration of time that you were absent in excess of 8 weeks in years one, two, three, and four.
- Time missed for educational conferences does not count toward the 8 weeks.
In addition to the yearly leave limits above, you can't take more than a total 20 weeks of leave over the four (4) years of residency training. If this limit is exceeded, the residency must be extended for the duration of time that you were absent in excess of 20 weeks.
Example: A resident takes 8 weeks of leave in years 1, 2, and 3, and 6 weeks of leave in year 4 (total 30 weeks). The residency program must be extended by 10 weeks.
- The number of days that equals a “week” is a local issue that is determined by the hospital and Program Director, not ABOG.
- Vacation and sick leave time may not be used to reduce the actual time spent completing the required 48 months of training or to “make up” for time lost due to sickness or other leave.
- If you have your residency extended to complete the required 48 months, you may sit for the Qualifying Exam in June if you will have completed all 48 months by September 30th of the same year. The results of your exam will not be released until and unless the Program Director notifies ABOG that you have successfully completed your residency by September 30th.
Program Director Attestation
The Program Director is required to attest to your satisfactory performance by filling out and signing a Residency Program Affidavit, attesting to your competence, and program completion.The Program Director is expected to sign on behalf of the program, not as an individual.
You are required to maintain a record of the number and type of obstetric and gynecologic procedures performed during residency to demonstrate the adequacy of your operative experience.
Time Limitation for Eligibility
A candidate is not eligible to apply for the Qualifying Exam if more than 8 years have elapsed since the completion of residency training. Years spent in an ACGME OB-GYN fellowship or a second residency will not count towards the 8-year limit.
- A candidate who fails to become certified with eight years will be required to complete a minimum of 6-months of supervised practice at a hospital affiliated with an ACGME-accredited training program. Please review the details in the "Regaining Eligibility for OB GYN Certification Policy" to best understand this process.
Preparing for the Qualifying Exam
Skills and Knowledge Required
You'll be expected to demonstrate skills necessary to apply the appropriate knowledge to the management of clinical problems. These skills include:
- obtaining needed information
- interpretation and use of data obtained
- selecting, instituting, and implementing appropriate care
- management of complications
- follow-up and continuing care
Types of Exam Questions
The exam consists of single-best answer, multiple-choice questions. Many of the questions are constructed to be thought-provoking and problem-solving. For most questions, all possible answers may be plausible, but only one answer is the most correct. The Qualifying Exam is only administered in English.
Approximately 30% of the questions on the test will be in the area of Obstetrics; 30% in Gynecology; 30% in Office Practice and Women’s Health; and 10% in Cross Content areas.
Approximate percentage of questions broken out by subcategory:
- Preconception/Prenatal/Antenatal Care (3%)
- Evaluation/Diagnosis of Antenatal Conditions (7%)
- Intrapartum Care, Complications, and Obstetrical Procedures (18%)
- Postpartum Care (2%)
- Preoperative Evaluation (3%)
- Perioperative Care (2%)
- Postoperative Care (3%)
- Surgical Complications (6%)
- Evaluation/Diagnosis/Management of Gynecologic Conditions (7%)
- Surgical Procedures (5%)
- Neoplasia (4%)
- Office Practice
- Well-Woman Preventive Care (7%)
- Office Management – Medical Problems (4%)
- Office Management – Gynecology (15%)
- Office Procedures (4%)
- Cross Content
- Communication (2.5%)
- Ethics and Professionalism (2.5%)
- Basic Science (5%)
Conduct & Test Security
The Qualifying Exam is scheduled to last approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes. If you finish before the full time has elapsed, you can leave the Pearson VUE Testing Center early, but if you leave, you can't return to the test site.
Key points of conduct and expectations are listed below, and please remember: if you violate any of the conduct regulations, you won't receive a grade for any portion of the Qualifying Exam, and you forfeit all fees paid.
- You'll receive information after registering for the exam on the Pearson VUE Testing Center website concerning the location of your exam, as well as the time you should arrive.
- You'll need to show 2 forms of identification to be admitted for the Qualifying Exam at the Pearson VUE Testing Center.
- One document must include both a photograph and your signature, for example, a passport, drivers license, military I.D., work I.D., school I.D.
- The second document must include your signature. It can be any of the examples provided above, or you can also use a credit or debit card.
- If you've had a name change between the time you applied to take the test and the day of the test, bring a copy of an official document that verifies the name change. Examples could include but are not limited to, a marriage certificate, divorce decree, court-ordered name change, etc.
- You can't take electronic devices into the exam area, and you must also submit to a screening process that may include any or all of the following:
- palm vein scanning
- wanding or walk-through scanning for metallic objects
- any other screening that may be in place at the Pearson VUE Testing Center.
- If you refuse to submit to any of the possible types of screening procedure you can't take the exam, and you'll lose out on the exam fees (no refunds).
- You're not allowed to possess or access recording devices, cellular phones, paging devices, other electronic communication and/or recording devices, and writing instruments at any time during the Qualifying Exam or while taking a break.
- You can't wear any device that can access the internet.
- These devices include an Apple Watch, and similar devices.
- The one exception is an insulin pump.
- With the exception of an insulin pump, if an electronic device is discovered at any time during the exam, or if you access any such device for any reason, you won't receive a grade for any portion of the exam, and you'll forfeit all fees paid.
- There is no scheduled break during the exam.
- Candidates may take unscheduled breaks to use the restroom facilities.
- Unscheduled breaks should not exceed 10 minutes in length.
- During such breaks, you can't talk with any individual or access any electronic devices.
- You're not allowed to leave the Pearson VUE Testing Center for any reason before completing the test.
If you require special accommodations during the exam due to a disability or because you'll be lactating on your test day, you'll need to submit your request to ABOG in advance of the exam. It may not be possible to accommodate requests received after the specific accommodations due date. See full details regarding Accommodations.
At the time of application for the Specialty Qualifying Exam, and again at the time the test is taken, each candidate is required to agree to the following. No candidate will be allowed to sit for the Qualifying Exam unless they agree to these terms:
1. I understand that all ABOG test materials are copyrighted and that it is illegal to disclose the content of the examination in whole or in part to any individual, organization or business. Furthermore, I understand that if I provide the information to any such entity I may be prosecuted under the US Copyright laws.
2. I understand that if I divulge the content of the Qualifying Exam in whole or in part to any individual, organization, or business, my test result, if any, will be negated, and I will not be allowed to re-apply for the Qualifying Exam for a minimum of three (3) years.
3. I understand that I may not record any portion of the Qualifying Exam by any means in whole or in part, and a violation will be treated as outlined in numbers 1 and 2 above.
4. I understand that I may not memorize or attempt to memorize any portion of the Qualifying Examination for the purpose of transmitting such material to any individual, organization or business.
5. I agree that de-identified results of my examination may be used for research purposes by ABOG.
6. I agree that the results of my examination will be given to my Residency Program Director.