The Steps to Developing an American Board of Physician Specialties® Examination
A central component to becoming board certified by the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) is the successful completion of a standardized, written examination. This exam is designed to be rigorous but fair, singling out the most competent, highly trained and knowledgeable physicians in their specialty area. As a result, credentialing organizations, physician peers and the public can be confident that a physician certified through the ABPS is a specialty-area expert in the field of medicine that he or she practices.
ABPS examinations are based on meetings with subject matter experts who help identify the key skills, abilities, and technical knowledge that a board-certified physician should possess. Once this practice analysis is completed, the exams are thoroughly vetted by a representative sample of professionals in the medical community, which usually comprises physicians who are board certified by the ABPS, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).
From there, medical professionals, along with psychometric experts, collaborate to develop a central blueprint for the examination, which includes recommended weighting for each section of the exam. This blueprint also roughly outlines the approximate length of the exam, including the number of topics to be covered and the number of questions that should be included in each section. Once this blueprint process is complete, a team of subject matter experts develop the questions themselves.
After the exam is thoroughly edited for grammar, readability, and potential biases, it is submitted to a committee of ABPS Diplomates for final editing and approval. From there, ABPS staff adjust the exam for length and to ensure that there are the appropriate number of questions in each section. A final edit is also completed to make sure instructions are clear, redundancies are eliminated and that questions don’t unintentionally provide answers to other exam questions.
While this process is exhaustive and requires significant collaboration, it is absolutely integral to ensure that our standardized examinations are reliable, fair and accurately measure the physician candidates’ qualifications.
To learn more about the ABPS, our board certification process, and our upcoming exam schedule, contact us today. The ABPS is the official certifying organization of the American Association of Physician Specialists®.