The Steps to Developing an American Board of Physician Specialties® Examination

ABPS 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®.

Save the Date
House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine