Oral Examination

The oral examination is the second evaluation in the Board certification process. Upon successful completion of the Written Qualifying Examination (WQE) candidates are sent specific instructions for registration for the oral examination. 

The oral examination is a timed examination and requires candidates to “care for” a series of patients. All examinations are given by appointment within a half day period. The half day period is divided into six examinations to allow multiple examiners to assess the candidate’s patient care ability. The pooled group of examiners is referred to as a panel. 

Scope of Oral Examination
The oral examination includes clinical scenarios representative of developmental, dystrophic, degenerative, inflammatory, infectious, toxic, traumatic, neoplastic, and vascular diseases affecting the eye and its surrounding structures. For detailed information on the scope of the oral examination content, download the current ABO Certification Brochure

Aspects of the candidate’s ability that are tested in the oral examination:
The oral examination is designed to simulate how candidates care for patients in a clinical setting. Candidates are assessed with regard to their ability to incorporate the cognitive knowledge demonstrated in the written examination with judgment on caring for a patient. A candidate is presented with a series of props, each of which represents one patient or clinical situation, and is asked to identify how he/she would care for that patient. The examiner assesses a candidate’s ability to demonstrate patient care skills in the following areas:

  • Data Acquisition: Recognition by the candidate of depicted abnormalities and diseases that affect the eye, ocular adnexa and the visual pathways. Candidates will be asked for historical information and examination data that might be obtained on a patient with a particular condition depicted or described.
  • Diagnosis: The ability of candidates to synthesize historical and physical evaluation information, along with the appropriate laboratory data to arrive at correct diagnoses and differential diagnoses.
  • Treatment: Candidates will be expected to provide a reasonable and appropriate plan for medical and/or surgical management of patients with the conditions depicted or described and be able to discuss the prognosis and/or therapeutic complications for the particular condition.

Click here to access an oral examination simulation video.
Click here for a sample oral examination question

Successful Completion of the Oral Examination
A candidate who successfully passes both the Written Qualifying and Oral Examinations has completed the requirements for Board certification and is awarded a certificate valid for ten years. Physicians who have received the certificate are DIPLOMATES of the Board.

Failure to Complete the Oral Examination
A candidate shall be required to reactivate his/her application for approval, submit an additional application fee, and pass another Written Qualifying Examination before being admitted to the Oral Examination under the following circumstances:
  1. if a candidate does not take the Oral Examination within twenty-four (24) months after notice has been sent to the candidate that he/she has passed the Written Qualifying Examination;
  2. if a candidate who is eligible to do so fails to repeat the Oral Examination within twenty-four (24) months after failing such examination;
  3. if the candidate does not pass the entire examination in three attempts.

For more information about the Board’s policies and procedures regarding the oral examination, download the current Certification Brochure

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