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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.

Exam Day Schedule

  • The Cardiovascular Disease Certification Exam lasts one and a half days
  • One full day of the certification examination is devoted to multiple-choice questions, which are administered in four two-hour sessions:

Multiple-Choice Component 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.

Electrocardiogram and Imaging Studies Exam Day Schedule

In addition to the ten hour schedule for the initial Certification exam, Cardiovascular Disease initial Certification candidates must also complete two additional sessions on a separate day of testing; each session is up to two hours and 15 minutes in length with an optional 20 minute break.

Action Time Allotted
Registration Varies
Tutorial Optional, up to 30 minutes
Instructions and Pledge of Honesty Up to 10 minutes
Electrocardiogram Session Up to 2 hours (maximum 35 cases)**
Break Optional, up to 20 minutes (unused test time from the Electrocardiogram session will increase the amount of available break time)*
Imaging Studies Session Up to 2 hours and 15 minutes (maximum 37 cases)**
Optional Survey Up to 10 minutes
Total Approximately 5 hours

* Unused test time remaining from a test session is added to the subsequent break. For instance, if you have 10 minutes remaining from your first test session, it will be added to the first break, thereby making the first break 30 minutes. However, unused break time cannot be applied to testing time. The time available for the scheduled break is forfeited if you do not use it.

** Some cases contain multiple score points.

Get more information on What to Expect on Exam Day.

Copyright and Examination Non-Disclosure Policy

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