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Prepare for an Assessment in a Test Center

This section provides you with information on what to expect at computer-based testing centers during the administration of a traditional, 10-year Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exam

If you haven't yet scheduled your assessment, make sure that you first review the MOC Assessment Information for your specialty and the Assessment Options section.

NOTE: The 2-year Knowledge Check-In is no longer offered. The traditional, 10-year MOC exam will continue as an option. Learn more about your assessment options

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Are there tools to prepare me for the traditional, 10-year MOC Exam?

Browse to your exam within the MOC Assessment Information section. There you will find the exam blueprint, which gives an outline of the exam's content and shows the percentage of exam questions that you should expect to answer in each content category.

In addition to reviewing the blueprint, you should take the exam tutorial to become more familiar with the features of the exam.

What is the schedule for exam day?

To view the exam day select your MOC specialty and click on the Schedule tab.

When should I arrive? / What if I arrive late?

  • Arrive 30 minutes prior to the appointment time specified on your confirmation e-mail.
  • If you arrive after your appointment time, you may not be admitted to the exam.
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of the Pearson Professional Center, parking and nearby restaurants prior to exam day.
  • Check www.pearsonvue.abim for updates and directions to the Pearson Professional Center. 

What identification will I need?

When you arrive at the Pearson Professional Center for your exam, you will need to present primary and secondary identification. Candidates without both valid primary and secondary ID may not be admitted to the exam.

  • Primary ID: A current non-expired government-issued form of ID that contains both your signature and a recent photograph. A valid driver's license, passport or state identification card is acceptable. Note: Any form of ID issued by the following governments cannot be used as a primary ID, per U.S. government regulations: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
  • Secondary ID: A form of ID that includes either your signature or a photograph. For example, a Social Security card, valid credit card or ATM card is acceptable.

You will not be allowed to take your exam with expired or invalid ID.

Important: The name that appears on your ID must be the same as the name that ABIM has on record for you or you may not be admitted to the exam.

How is a Pearson Professional Center set up for testing?

Every computer testing center offers a quiet, professional testing environment, with eight to 25 private workstations. Each center has:

  • An administrator workstation, waiting room, proctor workstation and testing room
  • At least two certified test administrators

Note: Test takers other than ABIM candidates may be present at the test centers.

What happens when I arrive at the Pearson Professional Center for my exam?

  • Present your personal identification.
  • A palm vein recognition scan (see description below), digital signature and photograph will be taken. This is required to take the exam.
  • Palm vein recognition technology works by scanning the veins inside of your hand to create a digital template that represents your vein pattern. The palm vein reader uses a safe, near-infrared light source, similar to a television remote. More information on palm vein recognition technology.
  • Personal items, including your cell phone, PDA, watch, wallet and/or purse are not permitted in the testing room. You will be required to leave all personal belongings outside the testing room. A secure individual storage locker will be provided for these items. Storage space is limited, however, so plan accordingly. The testing center assumes no responsibility for candidates' personal belongings.
  • While the temperature in the exam room should be comfortable, dressing in layers is recommended. Outerwear (jackets, coats, etc.) are not permitted; however, sweaters are permitted.
  • You will be asked to read the "ABIM Candidate Rules Agreement" and agree to the security terms of the administration of the exam.
  • The test administrator will give you a short orientation and escort you to a computer workstation in the testing room. If you are left-handed, you may request that the mouse be moved to the left side of the computer monitor and reset to operate as a left-handed mouse.
  • You may request instructions to adjust the height and contrast of your monitor. You also may request that the monitor be moved from the top of the computer.
  • An erasable notepad will be provided by the test administrator. (Note: You also will be able to type and save notes in a pop-up box that accompanies each exam question.)
  • If you are easily distracted by noise, including keyboard noise, you may request earplugs and headphones from the test administrator. Your own earplugs, headphones or other personal devices are not permitted in the test centers.
  • At the start of the exam, you will see several screens reviewing instructions about taking the exam and about exam security. You will be asked to agree to a Pledge of Honesty affirming that you will follow ABIM and the testing vendor rules.

What are Pearson Vue's Health and Safety Guidelines for Covid-19?

Please visit Pearson's page to learn more about important COVID-related testing information: https://home.pearsonvue.com/coronavirus-update.aspx

What is not permitted in the testing room?

To assure exam security, the following are prohibited:

  • Electronic devices, including cell phones, cameras, recording devices, PDAs, calculators and pagers.

In addition, the following are not permitted:

  • Wallets and purses
  • Jackets, coats, etc.
  • Watches. The time of day will be displayed on a clock in the testing room and the time remaining in the exam session will be displayed on your computer screen.
  • Calipers, nomograms or other interpretive aids.
  • Study materials, books, notes, scratch paper, etc.
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters and other writing instruments. The test administrator will provide erasable noteboards that will be replaced as needed. Noteboards may not be removed from the testing room and must be turned in to the test administrator when you complete each exam session. In addition, you may type and save notes in the "Notes" section available for each exam question. Noteboards and the “Notes” section are provided for your convenience and are not considered in the evaluation of your exam.
  • Tobacco products.
  • Food and drinks. You may bring lunch to the test center, but there is no access to refrigeration or lounge facilities. Water fountains are available at most test centers. You may also bring bottled water to store in your secure locker.
  • Certain essential medical items (e.g., Bluetooth-enabled glucose monitoring devices and diabetic supplies) may be brought into the testing room with prior approval of ABIM. You should submit your request to ABIM by sending an email to accommodations@abim.org.

Friends or relatives who accompany you to the test center will not be permitted to wait inside the test center and cannot contact you while you are taking the exam.

A secure individual storage locker will be provided for you. Storage space is limited, however, so plan accordingly.

Note: Candidates who fail to adhere to these policies are subject to disciplinary action which could lead to dismissal from the exam, invalidation of the exam, disqualification from future exams, or other sanctions deemed appropriate by ABIM.

What Is the structure of the exam?

The traditional, 10-year MOC exams is given in modular format with a set number of questions per test session. Select your MOC specialty and view the detailed exam day schedule on the Schedule tab. 

Answer every question because your score will be determined by the total number of questions answered correctly. There is no penalty for guessing. For each question, there is one best answer. Be sure to check the Review Screen in the exam for any unanswered items, which will be indicated as “incomplete.” The time remaining for each session will appear in the upper right-hand corner of the computer screen. The time of day will be displayed on a clock in the testing room. Continue to work until you have answered all questions.

A message box will appear on your computer screen as a reminder when five minutes remain in a session. If you are still working at the end of the two-hour session, the computer screen will turn gray, a message will state that your time has expired, and no further keyboard and mouse responses will be recorded.

You will be offered optional break time during your exam. Read more about breaks in the next question.

What do I need to know about exam breaks?

For the traditional, 10-year MOC exam you have up to 100 minutes of available break time to use, divided between three breaks. The amount of break time you use after each test session will be subtracted from the total 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.

You can use as much or as little of your available break time as you choose.

You should allow sufficient time (as much as 10 minutes) for checking back in from your break.

If you exceed the available break time, the excess time will be deducted from the next test session.

Unauthorized breaks:

No break is allowed during an active test session.

If you must leave the room for any reason before the test session concludes:

  • The test administrator will set your computer in Unauthorized Break Mode.
  • The test clock will continue counting down.

Your computer screen will display the overall session time remaining You should exit the testing room as quietly as possible.

You may not leave the immediate vicinity of the testing room or restrooms while an exam session is in progress.

You may not access any electronic devices or study material from your locker during an unscheduled break.

No additional time will be added to the test session.

Assistance during an exam session:

You must remain in your seat during an exam session, unless authorized to leave by a test center administrator. Raise your hand to notify the administrator if you:

  • Have a problem with your computer
  • Need a clean noteboard or scratch pad
  • Need to leave the testing room for any reason
  • Have inadvertently brought any personal belongings into the testing room
  • Need earplugs or headphones if you are easily distracted by noise, including typing noise
  • Need assistance for any other reason

Returning from a scheduled break:

You must provide a palm vein scan each time you enter and exit the testing room. Because you must be at your seat before the end of a scheduled break, allow sufficient time (as much as 10 minutes) for checking back in.

Technical or computer problems:

In the event of a computer or other technical problem, the computer system will ensure that no testing time is lost and all your answer choices are saved. Raise your hand to notify the proctor if there is a problem. The proctor will follow established procedures to resolve the problem.

When do I receive my exam results?

If you took a traditional, 10-year MOC exam, you will receive your score report via email in approximately 3 months.

Am I responsible for my lodging and travel?

Yes, you are responsible for making your own travel and hotel reservations. Recommendations for overnight accommodations are not available from ABIM or the test vendor.

What are examples of irregular behavior?

Test administrators are required to report to ABIM any irregular or improper behavior by a candidate. Examples of irregular or improper behavior include giving or obtaining information or aid, looking at the test material of others, removing examination materials from the test center, taking notes, bringing unauthorized items (see above) into the examination, failing to comply with time limits or instructions, talking or other disruptive behavior. Test administrators may intervene to stop any of the foregoing. In addition, as part of its effort to assure exam integrity, ABIM utilizes data forensic techniques that use statistical analyses of test-response data to identify patterns of test fraud, including cheating and copyright infringement. ABIM investigates all irregularity reports.

Irregular or improper behavior in examinations that is observed, made apparent by data forensics, statistical analysis or uncovered by other means will be considered a subversion of the certification process and will constitute grounds for invalidation of a candidate's examination. In addition, ABIM may at its discretion suspend or revoke certification, exclude candidates from future examinations and inform program director(s), licensing bodies, impaired physicians advocacy groups or law enforcement agencies of ABIM's actions.

If you see cheating or other inappropriate behavior before, during and after an examination, please contact ABIM's Exam Integrity Hotline at 1-800-884-ABIM (2246) or email security@abim.orgNote: the Exam Integrity Hotline should be used ONLY to report irregular behavior.

How Do I Contact ABIM With Questions Regarding Exam Day?

If you have any questions regarding exam day, call ABIM's Customer Experience Department at 1-800-441-ABIM (2246), Mon. - Fri. 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET or send us an email.

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 assessments 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.

Pearson VUE Health and Safety Guidelines

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What is Pearson VUE's face mask policy?

Some test centers will still require test takers to wear a face mask based on local or state guidelines. Please confirm your test center’s face mask requirement by visiting the Pearson VUE COVID-19 Update webpage the day before your exam.

ABIM suggests bringing a face mask to your appointment to ensure you have one available in case of any sudden changes to policy or personal preference. Pearson VUE is unable to provide a face mask.

Any surgical or cloth face mask, including a homemade face mask, is acceptable. You may also wear a face shield with your face mask if you choose. If wearing a face mask, you will be asked to briefly remove the face mask during the check-in process to take the required photo.

Can I wear gloves?

You are not required to wear gloves but may choose to do so. Gloves will not be provided by Pearson VUE. You may be asked to remove your gloves to complete a palm vein scan.

What sanitation procedures are in place at the test center?

Pearson VUE has implemented a strict cleaning regimen. This includes providing hand sanitizer to candidates upon entering the test center and sanitizing the surface and equipment of each workstation after the end of every appointment. Any equipment used during the check-in process is also sanitized after every use. At this time it has not been approved to bring your own cleaning wipes or hand sanitizer.

Can I bring tissues?

Tissues will be provided by Pearson VUE. You may bring your own tissues according to pre-approved comfort aids but they may be subject to inspection.

Will there be appropriate distancing at the workstations?

Pearson VUE will apply social distancing guidelines at test centers to meet state and local requirements, which will vary by location.

Will I be required to do a palm vein scan?

Yes, Pearson VUE has increased their cleaning and disinfecting regimens in between all testing appointments and this includes wiping down all areas with which test takers have had contact.

What if I am not feeling well on exam day?

If you exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the test center, you may be asked to reschedule your exam for another time when in full health. Please contact ABIM if this situation occurs.

I have had close contact with someone who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19, will I be admitted to the test center?

Physicians (medical/healthcare professionals) who treat patients while both are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) will be admitted to the test center.

To be admitted to the test center, Pearson VUE may ask if you live with or have had close contact with someone who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19. We recognize many physicians are on the front lines treating patients during the pandemic, and in doing so may have come in close contact with someone who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19. If you experience any issues being admitted to the test center on exam day, please call us at 1-800-441-ABIM (2246).

I am traveling to take my exam in a location with travel restrictions, will I be admitted to the test center?

It is important that you know if there are travel restrictions for the location where you are taking your exam. If you travel to take the exam in a location with travel restrictions, Pearson VUE may not allow you to be admitted to the test center.

State, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place, including testing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and quarantine requirements upon arrival. For up-to-date information about state, local, and territorial travel restrictions, check the state and local health department where you are, along your route, and where you are going. If you are currently scheduled to take an exam in a location with travel restrictions, or experience any issues being admitted to the test center on exam day, please call us at 1-800-441-ABIM (2246).

Where can I find additional information?