The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) certification exam is designed to evaluate an internist’s knowledge, diagnostic skill, and clinical judgment skills. Certification demonstrates your commitment to professional growth and identifies your determination to meet the rigorous standards of professional development after your residency program.
Before you can sit for the ABIM certification, you must meet the following requirements: successful completion of a pre-doctoral medical program, meet graduate medical education training requirements, demonstrate clinical competence, and meet licensure requirements.
Registration, dates, cost, and location
Register for the ABIM certification exam through the physician registration portal found on the ABIM website during the open registration window. The registration window begins the first of December and ends the 15th of April. Registration is available from the 16th of April to the end of April with an additional late fee. The examination fee is $1,410.00, payable by American Express, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover credit cards.
The ABIM exam is held once a year over six dates in August. For 2019, the exam dates are August 14, 16, 20, 22, 23, and 28. After you register through the physician portal, you are routed to Pearson Vue’s website to select and schedule your test date. Testing centers are located nationwide.
Ten hours are allotted for the ABIM multiple-choice, computer-delivered examination. The test is divided into four sessions, and each session is two hours in duration. You are provided a total of 100 minutes for breaks which are divided between the four sessions.
Questions may utilize short statements, case histories, radiographs, electrocardiograms, and clinical photos to introduce information proceeded by possible answers. Only one answer is the better choice, and the other answers may be partially correct.
Each session consists of 60 multiple-choice questions derived from the following medical content categories:
- Allergy and Immunology – 2% of questions
- Cardiovascular Disease – 14% of questions
- Dermatology – 3% of questions
- Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism – 9% of questions
- Gastroenterology – 9% of questions
- Geriatric Syndromes – 3% of questions
- Hematology – 6% of questions
- Infectious Disease – 8% of questions
- Nephrology and Urology – 6% of questions
- Neurology – 4% of questions
- Obstetrics and Gynecology – 3% of questions
- Medical Oncology – 6% of questions
- Ophthalmology – 1% of questions
- Otolaryngology and Dental Medicine – 1% of questions
- Psychiatry – 4% of questions
- Pulmonary Disease – 9% of questions
- Rheumatology and Orthopedics – 9% of questions
- Miscellaneous – 2% of questions
Every question on the ABIM exam falls into one of the above content categories. Some questions may fall into one of the following cross-content categories:
- Critical Care Medicine
- Geriatric Medicine
- Women’s Health
- Clinical Epidemiology
- Palliative and End-of-Life Care
- Adolescent Medicine
- Occupational Medicine
- Patient Safety
- Substance Abuse
The examination reviews your skill, knowledge, and abilities performing tasks during the course of your practice. You are assessed in making a diagnosis, ordering and interpreting tests, the recommendation of patient treatment and care, assessing risk, determining prognosis, understanding and using epidemiologic studies, and understanding the underlying pathophysiology of disease.
On the day of your exam, arrive thirty minutes before your test appointment. The early arrival gives you time to park, use the restroom, and secure your belongings. You are not allowed to bring anything into the testing center. At check-in, present two forms of identification and your palm-vein is scanned. After your check-in procedures are completed, a test administrator escorts you to your testing station.
At your station, you are provided earplugs or headphones and an erasable notepad. You have the opportunity during your exam sessions to use a computer-generated pop-up note box that will store your notes during the exam session. Before beginning your test, there is an optional thirty-minute tutorial. Once you begin the first session, your time starts. Between each session, you can use your break minutes as you see fit.
Exam scoring and results
The ABIM certification exam is pass or fail, determined by your performance in all four sections. Unanswered questions are counted as incorrect, so it is beneficial for you to answer every question – even if you have to guess.
Your raw score is converted to a standard score. The standard score range is 200 to 800 with a mean standard score of 500. Your score must equal or exceed the standardized passing score to pass.
Three months after the last date of the exam in your area, your results are released. ABIM notifies you by email that your score report is available in your physician portal. Your results are not mailed to you.
How Can I Prepare for the ABIM Exam?
That’s a great question. We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.
- Do yourself a favor and study. Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try. Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping. All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance. If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
- Get a study guide or set of flashcards. Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them. We’ve tried to make it easy for you by
- tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see
- links to both!