Applying for the QE

How to Apply - General Surgery QE

    Application Access: U.S. chief residents must use the login information sent to their programs in mid-March; Canadian applicants should contact the ABS office for access.
  • The online application process for the General Surgery Qualifying Exam is posted each year in early spring. Applicants are encouraged to begin the application process as early as possible.
  • If you do not complete the application process, any materials or fees submitted cannot be carried over to another year. Refer to the Booklet of Information - Surgery (pdf) for complete eligibility requirements.
  • Exam accommodations: Please notify the ABS office at the time of application to the QE if you will need testing accommodations at the center due to learning disabilities by formerly submitting your request per our Examination of Persons with Disabilities policy.
  • In addition, if you are a nursing mother, or if you have a medical condition such as injury or diabetes, etc., please inform the ABS at the time of application if you will need accommodations, such as additional break time during the exam, by submitting your request per our Examination Accommodations policy. Requests should be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the applicant’s exam date. Pearson VUE has specific designated centers that are able to offer such accommodations, and these locations fill up on a first come, first served basis. ABS will work with Pearson VUE to make appropriate arrangements.

Items Required

  • Once the online application process is available, applicants are required submit the following items:
1) Application Form - submitted via the ABS website
  • This form covers information regarding your undergraduate and graduate medical education. You must list chronologically all rotations and activities from the beginning of residency. Each rotation must be listed separately by clinical activity, not grouped together as a yearly total.
  • You must also list all time away from training of two days or more outside your normally scheduled days off, including time taken for research, vacation, interviews, meetings, medical leave, visa issues, and early departures for fellowships.
2) Operative Experience Report

Residents in U.S. programs: Mail a paper copy of your ACGME Resident Experience Report by Role to the ABS office. You do not need to submit the ABS operative experience report if you are sending your ACGME report.

For your application to be approved, you must meet all case requirements:

  • At least 850 total cases.
  • At least 200 chief cases.
  • At least 40 cases listed in surgical critical care (SCC), with at least 1 in each of the 7 categories. You also must have cases listed in nonoperative trauma.
  • At least 25 teaching assistant (TA) cases.

Note: The requirement for 40 SCC cases is effective with applicants graduating in the 2017-2018 academic year. Applicants who graduated before that time must have 25 SCC cases.

Residents in Canadian programs: Complete and submit the ABS operative experience report via the ABS website. See note above about requirement for SCC, nonoperative trauma and TA cases.

Please review our Training Requirements for full details.

3) Signature Form - signed by you and your program director and mailed to the ABS office
  • The signature form summarizes the information entered on the application form and operative report. The entire form must be printed and mailed with the original signatures (no signature stamps, faxes, scans or photocopies). It must be signed by the applicant and the individual who served as program director during his or her residency. Only the program director may sign the form, no other official.
  • Note: To avoid the late fee, the signature form must contain all required, original signatures (applicant and program director) and arrive by the application deadline.
4) Nonrefundable Application Fee - paid by credit card via the ABS website
  • Submit your credit card payment (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover) where indicated; a completed application form must be submitted first. A separate exam fee will also be required once your application is approved.
  • Note: The total application fee due will be based on when your signature form arrives at the ABS office, not the date you submit the application form or fee.
5) Documentation of ACLS, ATLS, FLS and FES - mailed to the ABS office
  • Copies of certificates showing that certification in each of these programs was successfully achieved (NOT the CME certificate, but the certification itself). For ATLS, a history report is not acceptable documentation. Applicants do not need to be currently certified in these programs.
  • Note: The FES requirement is effective with applicants graduating in the 2017-2018 academic year. It is not required of applicants who graduated before that time.
    Other Required Documentation
    - Residents who trained in multiple programs: Documentation of satisfactory completion for years in prior programs must be submitted, e.g., copies of certificates of residency year completion or letters from former program directors.
    - International medical graduates: If you are required to have an ECFMG certificate, a photocopy of it must be submitted. The certificate must be valid indefinitely. For Canadian residents, the certificate must be valid through the date of application.

Mailing Your Application Materials

  • The signature form (with all required original signatures) and all applicable documentation (ACGME report, etc.) should be mailed in one package to the ABS office (1617 JFK Blvd., Ste. 860, Philadelphia, PA 19103).
2020 Application Deadlines & Fees
  • By April 15 (initial deadline) - $500
  • By May 15 (late deadline) - $700

No applications will be accepted after May 15. Once your application is approved, a separate exam fee of $1350 will also be required.

  • To avoid the late fee, these 4 items must be at the ABS office (not postmarked) by end of business day on the application deadline: (1) application form (via website); (2) operative report (by mail or website, depending on format); (3) entire signature form with all required, original signatures (by mail); and (4) application fee (via website).
  • However your application cannot be approved until ALL required items are present. Please submit your application materials promptly so you may schedule the exam at a testing center of your choosing. The longer you wait to complete the application process, the more likely you will have to travel outside your area to take the exam.
  • To confirm delivery of application materials, please track your package through your delivery service. Allow 3-4 weeks for mailed items to be marked "Received" on your application page. Due to volume, the ABS staff is unable to confirm receipt of materials until they have been processed. Please keep a copy of all submitted items as the ABS will not furnish copies.
  • Tip: If you are sending items overnight, you do not need to purchase "First Overnight" service. Standard overnight is sufficient.

Application Approval

Once all materials are received, your application will be reviewed by ABS staff. You will be notified via email when your application is complete, and again when your application has been approved. Once approved, you will be sent information on how to register for this year's exam and pay the separate exam fee. If there are any problems with your application, you will be notified by ABS staff. Please keep your contact information current - Update Personal Information.

If you have questions, please refer to our FAQs section. For questions not covered in the FAQs, send an email to the exam coordinator.