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Initial Certification
Taking the Hospice & Palliative Medicine Exam

Key Exam Dates

Standard Exam Dates

Exam Date Option Registration Dates Late Registration Dates*

* Requires a non-refundable fee

2016: Nov. 7, 2016 Mar. 1, 2016 through May 16, 2016 May 17, 2016 through June 1, 2016

Special Accommodation Exam Dates*

Exam Date Options Registration Dates Late Registration Dates**

* These exam dates are only offered to candidates who have a documented disability requiring a special testing schedule, as provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please see the ABIM policy on Accommodation for Test Takers with Disabilities.

** Requires a non-refundable fee

2016: Nov. 14-18, 2016 Mar. 1, 2016 through May 15, 2016 May 16, 2016 through June 1, 2016


  • Deadline for cancellation is 11:59 p.m. ET two (2) days prior to scheduled examination date. (Example: For exams scheduled Thursday, October 9, 2014, the cancellation deadline would be 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, October 7, 2014.) See Refund Policy.
  • It is the candidate's responsibility to be aware of and comply with registration deadlines. In fairness to all candidates, ABIM adheres firmly to its published deadlines for registration and late registration for its exams. Candidates are encouraged to apply early in the registration period.
  • All dates are subject to change.
  • To change a scheduled exam date, see Change or Cancel an Exam.
  • Exam results will be released within three months of the exam date.

Exam Content and Blueprint

What Does the Examination Cover?

Click here to see the detailed Hospice & Palliative Medicine Certification Examination Blueprint (pdf), which includes an outline of the content areas and their approximate percentages for a typical exam.

Exam Administration

The exam lasts one day. Multiple editions, or "forms," of the exam are used, and they may differ in question order and content. Some questions require the interpretation of illustrative materials such as electrocardiograms, radiographs and photomicrographs (e.g., blood films, Gram stains, urine sediments).

Exam Development

A complete description of the process used to develop ABIM exams is available in How Exams Are Developed. Topics include:

  • Pretesting
  • Question content criteria
  • Question-writing process
  • Question review/editing process
  • Relevance review, and more

Question Format

The exam consists of single best answer questions only. This type of question consists of a brief statement, case history, graph, or picture followed by a question and list of possible options. You must choose the one answer that is better than the others; note that other options may be partially correct. Familiarizing yourself with the question format in advance may help you work more effectively.

Copyright and Examination Non-Disclosure Policy

All ABIM materials are protected by the federal Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq. Access to all such materials, as further detailed below, is strictly conditioned upon agreement to abide by ABIM's rights under the Copyright Act and to maintain examination confidentiality.

ABIM examinations are confidential, in addition to being protected by federal copyright and trade secret laws. Candidates and diplomates who undertake examinations agree that they will not copy, reproduce, adapt, disclose, or transmit examinations, in whole or in part, before or after taking an examination, by any means now known or hereafter invented. They further agree that they will not reconstruct examination content from memory, by dictation, or by any other means or otherwise discuss examination content with others. Candidates and Diplomates further acknowledge that disclosure or any other use of ABIM examination content constitutes professional misconduct and may expose them to criminal as well as civil liability, and may also result in ABIM's imposition of penalties against them, including but not limited to, invalidation of examination results, exclusion from future examinations, suspension, revocation of certification and other sanctions.

With respect to ABIM's Maintenance of Certification (MOC) products, including its Medical Knowledge Modules and ABIM PIMs Practice Improvement Modules®, candidates agree that they will not copy, reproduce or make any adaptations of such materials in any manner; and will not assist someone else in the infringement or misuse of these or any other ABIM-copyrighted works.


Exam Day Schedule

Action Time Allotted
Registration Varies
Tutorial Optional, up to 30 minutes
Instructions and Pledge of Honesty Up to 10 minutes
First Session Up to 2 hours (maximum 60 questions)
Break Optional, up to 100 minutes (divided between 3 breaks)*
Second Session Up to 2 hours (maximum 60 questions)
Break Optional, up to 100 minutes (divided between 3 breaks)*
Third Session Up to 2 hours (maximum 60 questions)
Break Optional, up to 100 minutes (divided between 3 breaks)*
Fourth Session Up to 2 hours (maximum 60 questions)
Optional Survey Up to 10 minutes
Total Approximately 10 hours

* You will have 100 minutes of available break time to use during your examination. The amount of break time you use after each test session will be subtracted from the amount of available break time. For instance, if you take a 10 minute break after session one, the amount of break time remaining for the exam will be reduced to 90 minutes.


Lab Studies and Reference Ranges

Reference ranges for laboratory test reports are included in the text of ABIM exam questions, as well as a high/low indicator if a patient's test result falls outside the reference range. As is true in practice, interpretation of a particular patient's test result in relation to the reference range depends on the clinical context. For example, reference ranges for tests assessing lipid or glucose metabolism may not be applicable in certain clinical settings; ABIM reference ranges should not be confused with patient-specific targets for such tests.

Reporting format

Laboratory test results in examination questions are followed by their reference ranges, in brackets and italicized.

For example:

Serum albumin          4.0                      [3.5–5.5 g/dL]

“H” or “L” will be shown if the patient's test result is higher or lower than the reference range.

For example:

Serum albumin          6.0          H          [3.5–5.5 g/dL]

For laboratory tests in which the reference range varies according to patient characteristics such as gender or age, the range provided will be appropriate for the patient.

For example, for a 45-year-old man:

Hematocrit                 39           L          [42%–50%]

For a 45-year-old woman:

Hematocrit                 39                       [37%–47%]

Information on specific studies

The National Cancer Institute advises that there is no specific normal or abnormal level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. Therefore, ABIM is reporting “no specific normal or abnormal level” in place of the reference range for PSA.

The comprehensive metabolic panel contains the following assays: Albumin, alanine and aspartate aminotransferases (ALT and AST), alkaline phosphatase, total bilirubin, blood urea nitrogen, calcium, creatinine, electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate), glucose, and total protein.

Unless noted otherwise in examination questions:

  • Arterial blood gas studies are done at sea level with the patient breathing room air
  • Reticulocyte counts are uncorrected
  • Tuberculin skin tests are done with purified protein derivative (PPD) at intermediate strength (5 TU)
  • Electrocardiograms are recorded at normal standard and speed
  • Lung volumes are determined by body plethysmography

Download the laboratory reference ranges (pdf) that may be used in ABIM exam questions.


Scoring and Reporting of Exam Results

What's New in 2015

Starting with exams administered in Spring 2015, ABIM is now distributing exam results in a new, electronic format. This new Score Report was redesigned in collaboration with ABIM Board Certified physicians across various specialties. The result is an enhanced, user-friendly report that provides a detailed description of exam performance in a timely manner. To learn more about the features of the updated score report, visit the Transforming ABIM blog or watch this interactive video.


The examination pass-fail decision is based on your performance on the entire examination. Unanswered questions are scored as incorrect; therefore, you should answer every question. The minimum passing score reflects an absolute standard that is independent of the performance of any group of candidates. This standard has been established by the examination committee and approved by the ABIM Board of Directors.

ABIM has a standard process for evaluating changes in medicine that occur too late in the test administration schedule to replace or modify any affected examination questions. We advise candidates to answer all questions according to their understanding of current clinical principles and practice. If ABIM determines that any question has been compromised by new information, that question will be reviewed to ensure that test-taker results are not adversely affected. This information appears in the instructions that candidates see before beginning any ABIM examination.


  • After the exam is given, it will be analyzed and evaluated to ensure the reliability of individual results.
  • Your results will be released within three months of the last date of the exam in that area. When your results are released, you will receive an e-mail notification with instructions on how to access your Score Report in PDF format from your Physician Login. Starting in 2015, all score reports will be provided electronically within your Physician Login, not via postal mail.
  • Score reports will be available for two years from the date on which they were released. For exams taken in 2015 or later they will be available within your Physician Login. For exams taken prior to 2015, you may obtain a copy of your Score Report upon written request during that two-year period. Questions regarding exam results should be submitted in writing within six months of the date results were released.

Those who pass the examination are designated as certified as diplomates of ABIM. They will receive certificates, which will remain valid as long as they continue to participate in MOC in accordance with the MOC program requirements. The certificates are mailed from ABIM within three to four months after candidates are notified of their results. Note: your current board certification status, as well as whether you are participating in MOC is reported on your Physician Login Home Page.


ABIM's scoring process is meticulous and includes a rigorous set of quality control steps to verify the accuracy of results for every examinee. Additional information on how exams are scored may be found at How Exams Are Developed.

It is very unlikely that an error occurred in retrieving your answers from the computer or scoring your exam.

However, you may request a rescore for a fee of $250.

If you would like to have your examination rescored, please put your request in writing. All requests must be received within six months of the results' release date. Include your name, ABIM ID, the examination to be rescored, and a check for $250.00 payable to the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Send to:
Rescore Request
American Board of Internal Medicine
510 Walnut Street, Suite 1700
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3699

Results of the rescore will be mailed to you within eight weeks of receiving your request.


Information for Candidates Certified by Other Boards

The registration period and Reporting of Examination Results information published above applies only to ABIM diplomates. Candidates from co-sponsoring Boards should contact their primary certification Board for information about registration processes and deadlines, which may vary.

If you are a diplomate of a co-sponsoring ABMS member Board, you will not receive any notification from ABIM regarding your examination results*. You will be notified of your examination results by your primary certification Board. Any questions about examination results and scoring should be directed to your primary certification Board.

* You will not be able to access examination results via the ABIM website.