Oral Exam Procedures


Eligibility for the oral certifying examination:

  1. The candidate must have successfully completed the written qualifying examination.
  2. The candidate must submit an AOBOO oral examination application and a letter of intent to take the oral certifying examination. The examination fee must accompany these items.
  3. The candidate shall demonstrate eligibility for the examination in any other manner required by the Board.
  4. In order to enter the final phase of certification, the candidate must have achieved program complete status from the Specialty College and all the documentation requested at the time of original application submission MUST be in the Candidate’s file.

Oral Certifying Examination

In order to enter the final phase of certification (oral certifying examination), the candidate must have achieved program complete status from the Specialty College.

The oral certifying examination shall be given to the candidates individually. Clinical problems and clinical case presentations shall be presented within the range of the questions approved by the Board and in the manner prescribed by the Board. Examiners will provide candidates with patient cases. Cases include presenting problems and statements made by the patient, and may include laboratory reports and/or studies appropriate to the etiology of the condition. Candidates participate in the examination by offering initial/suspected possible diagnoses, interpretation of labs and imaging studies, differential diagnosis, proposed treatment options, case management and possible troubleshooting. The examination shall be designed to evaluate judgmental processes and ability to solve clinical problems. At least one question shall embrace the osteopathic philosophy of disease as it pertains to the particular specialty.

On the day of examination, the candidate must register and show picture identification. The candidate will receive an envelope containing an ID number badge, file update form and any other applicable information and instructions. The file update form is to be filled out and returned to the examination staff at the registration desk immediately following the examination.

Candidates are expected to conduct themselves according to the honor system, respecting the integrity of the examination and protecting their fellow examinees. Under no circumstances should the candidate speak to other candidates about the examination questions or examination process. Failure to comply will result in invalidation of your examination and constitutes a failure as well as an ethical violation, which will be stated on your official Board file and reported to the AOA. No cell phones, PDAs or other electronic device are permitted in the examination room(s).

In accordance with the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists Standards Review Committee, the oral examination process is reviewed by a psychometrician who finds the examination process to be psychometrically sound and defensible, and follows the rules of practice established in the APA/AERA National Standards for Education and Psychological Testing. Pass and fail decisions are based solely on the content mastery displayed by the candidate.

Examination Grades

All examination records shall be submitted by the Chairman of the Examination Committee to the Board and the entire Board shall determine the final grade of each portion of the examination.

The Board sets passing standards for the written and oral examinations using an acceptable measurement model known as “criterion-referenced standard setting.” Using this model, the Board specifies the particular content and level of content difficulty necessary to be considered a passing candidate. Board members, who are themselves all certified, come from both practice and academic settings. The standard represents the minimal knowledge specified to be considered successful ophthalmologists and/or otolaryngologists.

All examination results are reviewed and approved by the entire Board. Candidates will be notified no later than 60 days following the Board’s decision. Candidates failing any part of the examination process will subsequently receive a deficiency report.

A passing grade in each portion (written and oral) of the examination process must be received for a candidate to be recommended for certification. After a candidate has met all requirements and successfully passed the examinations, the Board makes a recommendation to the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists for certification. The AOA will inform the candidate in writing of their certification and certificate number. The Board office is notified at the same time, at which time the Board will order the certificate to be printed.

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