About the BCOS Orthopedic Surgery Exam for Board Certification

Orthopedic SurgeryThe written portion of the examination for the Board of Certification in Orthopedic Surgery (BCOS) consists of 200 clinically based multiple-choice questions. The oral portion consists of three case studies, for which a brief patient history and symptoms or complaints will be presented. The American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) administers the BCOS written examination in May and November. The oral exam usually takes place in October; contact the ABPS for details about the examination schedule.

The written portion of the board certification examination for Orthopedic Surgery covers 15 main topics, including, but not limited to:

  • Rehabilitation
  • Fractures/bone healing/grafting
  • Bone and soft tissue infections
  • Joint reconstruction and replacement
  • Sports medicine
  • Arthritis and connective tissue disorders

For more information about the topics covered on the written exam, contact the ABPS or click through to the main examination description page, where a list of suggested study references also can be found.

During the course of the Orthopedic Surgery oral examination, the examinee will be allowed to probe for more information once the patient history and symptoms have been presented. The case studies will include a variety of conditions and situations, such as fractures/trauma, musculo-skeletal injuries, soft tissue injuries, disease processes, metabolic and neoplastic diseases, degenerative disease process, and/or neurologic disorders. Examinees will be scored based on the following aspects of the case studies:

  • Questions asked to gain further knowledge of patient history
  • Information requested about the patient’s specific physical condition
  • Laboratory tests and diagnostic exams requested
  • Diagnosis
  • Patient management
  • Patient disposition, including potential complications

Successful completion of the BCOS examination indicates proficiency in the knowledge of basic Orthopedic Surgery concepts and competency in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of common orthopedic injuries and disease processes. Rather than test the memorization of obscure facts, the ABPS examination focuses on relevant principles that are utilized in the daily practice of Orthopedic Surgery. It is a comprehensive yet fair evaluation of the basic science and clinical mastery of a physician candidate.

To learn more, contact the ABPS. The ABPS is the official multi-specialty board certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.


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.

I feel truly blessed and grateful to be an internal medicine board-certified diplomate with the American Board of Physician Specialties. Their ongoing, steadfast commitment to physician board(s) enhancement, forward focused vision, and tenacity is second to none. ABPS has become a recognized choice in Physician Board Certification.

Adam Rench, MD
Internal Medicine
To be the best, you must measure yourself against the best. Achieving Board Certification in Emergency Medicine by the ABPS gave me the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the art of EM in an objective way. The high bar that ABPS sets for candidates to be allowed to take both the written and oral exam is a testament to ABPS's rigorous vetting of one's ability to practice Emergency Medicine at a high level. By maintaining these credentials, I've been able to instill confidence in my abilities at the department/employer level and ultimately with the patients that choose to seek emergency care at the facilities at which I practice.

Royce Mathew Joseph, MD
Emergency Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has supported the entire field of Integrative Medicine in sponsoring our board. It has been so validating of the importance of prevention-oriented and holistic approaches to care while emphasizing the scientific basis of this specialty to have it recognized by ABPS. I am proud to have been one of the first groups to be board certified by ABPS in Integrative Medicine, leading the way for others committed to training in this specialty.

Myles Spar, MD
Integrative Medicine