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Cardiovascular Disease Certification Exam

Cardiovascular Disease Certification Exam Content

Exam Content

Multiple-Choice Questions Exam Component:

The detailed Cardiovascular Disease Certification exam blueprint (pdf) includes an outline of the content areas and their approximate percentages for a typical exam.

ECG and Imaging Studies Exam Component:

The ECG and Imaging Studies component of the exam (pdf) tests your ability to interpret ECGs, echocardiograms and coronary angiograms.

Exam Administration

The exam lasts one and one-half days. See the first and second tables in the Initial Certification Exam Day Schedule for details.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

The first day of the certification exam is devoted to multiple-choice questions, which are administered in four (4) two-hour sessions; sessions 1, 2 and 3 are followed by an optional break. Multiple editions, or “forms,” of the exam are used, and they may differ in question order and content.

Take the ABIM Exam Tutorial, which includes an example of an audio-based question.

Electrocardiogram and Imaging Studies:

In addition to the 10 hour schedule for the initial Certification exam on the first day of testing, Cardiovascular Disease initial Certification candidates must also complete two additional sessions on the second day of testing. The second day of the exam is devoted to the interpretation of electrocardiograms and imaging studies cases which are administered in two sessions. The electrocardiogram session is two hours followed by an optional 20-minute break. The imaging studies session, comprising echocardiograms and coronary angiograms, is two hours and 15 minutes.

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

Question Format

The Cardiovascular Disease Certification Exam consists of multiple-choice questions and special question formats for the interpretation of electrocardiograms and imaging studies. (A tutorial for these special formats will be provided to Certification candidates prior to exam administration.)

The multiple-choice questions are single-best-answer questions which consist of a brief statement, a case history, and an image (in some questions), 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.

Some multiple-choice questions require the interpretation of still frame and moving images such as radiographs, ECGs, echocardiograms, ventriculograms-aortograms, angiograms, nuclear studies, computed tomography scans, MRIs and histology slides. In addition, some questions may require recognition and interpretation of recorded heart sounds. A list of generic drug names used in exam questions, along with common corresponding trade names, is also provided.

Special question formats are used in the ECG and Imaging Studies component of the exam, requiring you to interpret electrocardiograms, echocardiograms and coronary angiograms. View the Sample Cases – Electrocardiograms and Imaging Studies (pdf) to see examples of the answer option lists. Familiarizing yourself with the format and scoring of these question types in advance will help you work more efficiently on the examination itself.

The interactive exam tutorial allows you to practice navigating the answer option lists.

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 assessments are confidential, in addition to being protected by federal copyright and trade secret laws. Candidates and diplomates who undertake assessments agree that they will not copy, reproduce, adapt, disclose or transmit assessments, in whole or in part, before or after taking an assessment, by any means now known or hereafter invented. They further agree that they will not reconstruct assessment content from memory, by dictation, or by any other means or otherwise discuss assessment content with others. Candidates and Diplomates further acknowledge that disclosure or any other use of ABIM assessment 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 assessment results, exclusion from future assessments, suspension or revocation of Board 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.