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Initial Certification
Taking the Nephrology Exam

Key Exam Dates

Standard Exam Dates

Exam Date Options Registration Dates Late Registration Dates*

* Requires a non-refundable fee

2014: Oct. 2, 2014 Mar. 1, 2014 through May 15, 2014 May 16, 2014 through June 1, 2014
2015: Nov. 12, 2015 Mar. 1, 2015 through May 15, 2015 May 16, 2015 through June 1, 2015

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

2014: Nov. 10-14, 2014 Mar. 1, 2014 through May 15, 2014 May 16, 2014 through June 1, 2014
2015: Nov. 16-20, 2015 Mar. 1, 2015 through May 15, 2015 May 16, 2015 through June 1, 2015

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • 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.
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Exam Content and Blueprint

What Does the Examination Cover?

Click here to see the detailed Nephrology Certification exam 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). A list of normal laboratory values is provided. Refer to this list to interpret values given in the questions because they may differ from those to which you are accustomed.

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.

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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.

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Scoring and Reporting of Exam Results

Scoring

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.

Results

  • After the exam is given, it will be analyzed and evaluated to ensure the reliability of individual results.
  • Your results will be released and a Score Report will be mailed to you within three months of the last date of the exam in that area.
  • You will receive e-mail notification when your results are released and an announcement will be posted on ABIM's website. No additional information is available until that time.
  • You can obtain your pass/fail status for an exam in the exam history section on your home page under Physician Login when results are released.
  • Scores are provided through the mail only. Copies of your Score Report will be maintained for two years from the date they were released. During that period, you may obtain a copy of your Score Report upon written request.
  • 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, the ongoing validity of which is contingent upon “Meeting MOC 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 “Meeting MOC Requirements,” is reported on your Physician Login Home Page.

Pass Rates

Click here to see the First-Time Taker Pass Rates for Initial Certification (pdf).

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