Orthopedic Surgery Oral Examination

The Orthopedic Surgery Oral Certification Examination consists of four cases. The cases presented will be based upon real or hypothetical patients. The cases presented reflect typical cases seen by Orthopedic Surgeons and are developed using the same reference materials and content domains as the written examination. Candidates are allowed two hours for the examination.

To begin the oral examination, candidates are presented a brief introductory statement regarding a patient’s general condition. The candidate is then asked how he or she would like to proceed. It is important to remember that the oral examination is designed to be a dialogue between the candidate and the presenter. Each case typically requires candidates to address details in each of the following categories:

  • History – The candidate should request information regarding any patient medical history relevant to the case, including (but not limited to) onset, location, allergies, medications, past medical history, and surgical history.
  • Physical Examination – The candidate should request information regarding the patient’s airway, neck, chest, heart, back, neurological, musculoskeletal, and any other areas applicable to the case.
  • Data – The candidate should order appropriate laboratory tests and diagnostic examinations; the Presenter will provide the candidate with the results.
  • Management – The candidate should indicate recommended treatment, including non-operative, operative, and post-operative management. The candidate may be asked to provide a rationale.
  • Disposition/Pathophysiology—The candidate may be presented with follow-up conditions of the patient, including complications—to which the candidate will be asked to recommend appropriate actions; or the candidate may be asked to describe possible complications/outcomes and appropriate corrective actions. Additionally, other related questions regarding the patient’s condition may be asked.

The cases presented will address a variety of situations. No case will address exactly the same topic. Topics presented to the candidate may include, but not limited to:

  • Fractures/Trauma
  • Musculo-Skeletal Injuries
  • Soft Tissue Injuries or Disease Processes
  • Metabolic and Neoplastic Diseases
  • Degenerative Disease Process: Bone and Soft Tissue
  • Neurologic Disorders

A candidate’s score on any one case is completely independent of his or her score on any other case. To pass, the candidate must, at a minimum, obtain a total score (sum of the scores from all four cases) that equals or exceeds the sum of the threshold scores for the four studies. Therefore, it is possible that a candidate may score less than the threshold score for one case, but still pass the examination, provided he or she scores well on the remainder of the cases to offset the lower score. Each case contains approximately the same number of possible points. Therefore, the cases are approximately equally weighted in the overall calculation of candidate’s total score.

While there are no scorable actions that, if not performed, are an automatic “not pass” – there are potential Dangerous Actions. These are actions or inaction that endangers the patient and may result in a deduction of points from the final score.

All ABPS examinations are administered only in English. Responses from candidates to examination questions must be in English for the candidate to be eligible to receive credit toward his or her examination score.

The results are mailed within 45 days of the examination. A careful review of the scoring and analyses of the results is conducted after the examination and before issuing reports, to verify the accuracy and validity of the results.

Retaking Oral Examinations

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

Accommodations for Religious Reasons and Disabilities

Click here to see the complete policy for accommodations.


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.

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