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Dermatology Examination Description

Physicians certifying or recertifying in Dermatology must successfully complete a Computer-Based (Written) Examination.

The Written Examination

The written certification examination consists of 200 multiple-choice items and is administered over a four-hour session. The written recertification examination consists of 100 multiple-choice items and is administered over a two-hour session. Each question has four potential responses, but only one correct answer. Each response to a question is scored as correct or not correct.

The outline below provides details of the subject areas (domains) covered on the examinations and the approximate number of items from each area. This domain listing is provided to help candidates prepare for the examination and is based on a comprehensive practice analysis of the key topics and knowledge in the specialty, as identified by practitioners, instructors, and other leaders in Dermatology. Candidates should review this outline carefully and focus study on the areas listed. Each item on the examination is linked to a specific domain. The information in the outline is meant to serve as a study aid only and not as a guarantee of success in taking the examination.


Approximate Percentage of Questions on Certification Exam 

Approximate Percentage of Questions on Recertification Exam 

1 Basic Cutaneous Science – Allergy/Immunology, Anatomy, Embryology, Physiology 13% 13%
2 Dermatopathology 9% 7%
3 Surgical – Anatomy, Anesthesia, Complications, Cosmetic, Cryo/Laser, MOHS, Techniques 18% 21%
4 Clinical Dermatology – Areal Pustolosis & Hyperketosis, AIDS, Appendiceal, Degenerative, Dermatic Disorders, Follicular Dermatoses, Panniculitis, Genetic, Granulomatous, Infectious Disease, Infestations, Infestations, Metabolic, Neoplasm Benign Malignant, Papulosquamous, Pigmentosus, Pregnancy Dermatology, Signs of Systemic, Urticarial, Vasculitis-Purpur, Venereal, Vesicular-Bullous, Mucus Membranes, Occupational Dermatology 54% 53%
5 Mycology 3% 3%
6 Pharmacology & Therapeutics 3% 3%


A candidate should focus their examination preparation on the content provided in the examination blueprint. The Reference list is not meant to be a list of comprehensive study materials but rather to aid candidates who may wish to prepare more in a specific area of the examination blueprint that they may not be as familiar with. You may wish to use the study materials to prepare for the written certification examination. All items appearing on our examinations have been written based on the material presented in these study references.

Click here to Download Study References

Examination Administration

Click here for ABPS Examination Schedule Information

Examination Results

Candidates will receive score reports indicating their pass/fail status on the written examination. Candidates who fail are provided a breakdown of their performance by subject content domains. ABPS sends examination results to candidates within 60 days of the last day of the administration window. Each examination is scored against predetermined standards of acceptable performance, utilizing modified Angoff procedures for establishing the minimum acceptable scores. A candidate who is successful in passing the written examination is then certified and attains Diplomate status within ABPS and AAPS.

Retaking Examinations

A candidate may take the written examination as many as three times to attain a passing score. Candidates who are not successful in passing the examination within the number of allowable attempts may reapply for certification by completing a new application and meeting all the requirements in effect at the time the new application is submitted.

Accommodations for Religious Reasons and Disabilities

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