FAQs - New Assessment

In response to diplomate feedback, including survey responses from nearly 10,000 diplomates, we have designed this new assessment process to provide a more convenient and flexible way of maintaining ABS certification.

The new general surgery assessment will focus on the latest and most important developments in surgical practice to assist diplomates in staying up to date. Diplomates will be able to take the 40-question, open-book assessment on their own computer at their convenience within the assessment window. In addition, half of the assessment will be a practice-related area of the diplomate’s choosing. The assessment will also offer immediate feedback with rationales.
Diplomates with general surgery certificates expiring this year may use the new assessment process to continue their certification. The assessment must be taken and passed every other year. Once participating in the new assessment, your certification status will be contingent on passing the assessment every other year, as well as meeting other program requirements. However, if you do not pass it in a given year, you will be able to retake it the following year (grace year) without loss of certification status. Please see New Assessment Enrollment for more details.
Registration for the 2018 new general surgery assessment will be available as of Aug. 1; we will notify diplomates at that time. To register for the new assessment, you will need to be up to date with the other program requirements of Continuous Certification; check your status anytime at My Continuous Certification. We will also keep you informed of your status and when action is required for you to maintain your certification. Please make sure to keep your contact information up to date.
Given how quickly surgical knowledge and practice are changing, we felt it was important to move to a more modern program of ongoing education and assessment. The new program is also designed to be more convenient, flexible and practice-related, to better reflect how diplomates practice today. The goal is to support diplomates in improving the care they provide, while upholding the high standards of ABS certification.
We are launching in 2018 with general surgery as it is the largest ABS specialty. The ABS component boards are currently working on similar assessment programs, with the goal of having them launch over the next few years. More information regarding other ABS specialties will be available later in 2018.
Check your status periodically at My Continuous Certification and see if there’s any information that needs to be submitted regarding the other program requirements of Continuous Certification. In general, these need to be updated no less than every five years. This now includes submission of two reference forms at five-year intervals. An operative experience report (in any ABS specialty) is also required every 10 years. We plan to have the reference forms and operative report available before registration opens on Aug. 1, so diplomates who need to submit them can begin working on them.
ABS staff reviewed general surgery diplomates’ operative experience reports from the past few years, and those four areas (general surgery, abdomen, alimentary tract, breast) cover what were clearly the most frequently performed procedures. Additional practice-related areas are planned for the future, based on feedback from diplomates and surgical societies.
The annual fee reflects the ongoing development of all aspects of the Continuous Certification Program, including diplomate status tracking, public reporting of diplomate status, self-service features like the CME Repository, and the new modular assessment process, which will require hundreds of new questions with explanations and references, as well as a new online delivery platform. The annual fee of $285 covers all general program participation, including one assessment every other year. Diplomates will start paying the fee once they enroll.
If your certificate in another ABS specialty expires this year, you will need to pass the recertification exam to continue your certification. Certificate expiration dates will not be extended.
While taking the assessment, you will be given two opportunities to answer a question correctly. To pass the assessment, you will need to achieve a final score of 80% correct. However, if you do not pass, you will be able to retake it the following year without loss of certification status.
For diplomates enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program, a grace year will always be offered the following year to retake the assessment if you did not pass, or did not take it when required. A $50 fee will be charged for taking the assessment in the grace year. If you do not pass the assessment in the grace year, you will lose your certification. A secure exam would then be required.
Diplomates who are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program will not lose their general surgery certification until the end of the grace year. Once that occurs, successful completion of a secure exam will be required to regain certification.
We felt it was important that lapsed diplomates have a special pathway that allows them to regain their certification within a short timeframe (year 1), but also ensures they are satisfactorily meeting the requirements of Continuous Certification. Once registration opens for the new assessment, lapsed diplomates will need to submit information regarding their professional standing and CME activities; this is an entirely online process that can be completed within a few days. Most recently lapsed diplomates or diplomates with other ABS certificates will already have many of the items submitted.

Lapsed diplomates must also take and pass two extra assessments during the initial five-year period of the pathway (in years 2 and 4); however, once the five-year period is completed, they will take the assessment on the standard schedule of every other year.