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FAQs - New Assessment

Registration is complete once all fees are paid, your digital signature is signed and all necessary requirements are marked with a green check. In most cases, registration is approved automatically within 24 hours. If the automated system finds any issues with your application, manual review by ABS staff will be required. If your application is under review, please continue to check back over the next couple of weeks.
Correctly answering 80% of the questions is required to pass, with two chances to answer. A score of at least 40% must be achieved on the first attempt to qualify for a second attempt in the same testing administration, so frequently guessing the correct answer is not a recommended strategy. Those who do not answer a minimum of 16 questions (40%) correctly on their first attempt or 32 questions (80%) correctly by their second attempt will be granted a grace year and will be able to retake it the following year without loss of certification status.
Diplomates who score at least 40% on their first assessment attempt will receive a second attempt.
You will be granted two weeks to complete the assessment when there are at least two weeks remaining in the assessment window. For 2018, the last day to begin the assessment to ensure that you have the full two weeks is Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. You are able to begin the assessment as late as Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, but must submit the assessment by 11:59 p.m. EST on Nov. 5, 2018. The two-week window begins the moment you launch the assessment and does not restart at any point.

We encourage diplomates to do their best on all assessment attempts. Correctly answering 80% of the questions is required to pass, with two chances to answer. A score of at least 40% must be achieved on the first attempt to qualify for a second attempt in the same testing administration, so frequently guessing the correct answer is not a recommended strategy. Those who do not answer a minimum of 16 questions (40%) correctly on their first attempt or 32 questions (80%) correctly by their second attempt will be granted a grace year and will be able to retake it the following year without loss of certification status. A $50 fee will be charged for taking the assessment in the grace year.

Diplomates who are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program and are not up to date with all program requirements at the time assessment registration will be unable to take the assessment until those requirements have been fulfilled. Grace years are provided to diplomates who do not pass an assessment when it is due, whether they do not register for the assessment or they are unsuccessful in their assessment attempt.

If you do not pass the assessment in the grace year, you will lose your certification. Regaining certification after the grace year will then require successful completion of a secure exam.

Diplomates who are participating in the lapsed pathway do not receive any grace years during the five years in which they are completing the pathway requirements.

You will not be required to share the details of the event or petition the board as to why you were unable to complete the assessment. In this case, you will be able to remain certified and take the assessment the following year during the grace year. If you are in your grace year, you must complete and pass the assessment to remain certified.
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. Diplomates who do not register for the assessment will not be enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program. They will not receive a grace year and will lose certification once their current certificate expires.

Grace years are available for everyone in good standing and participating in the Continuous Certification Program, whenever an assessment is normally due. Diplomates who are currently in a grace year and do not pass the assessment will not be issued another grace year at that time.

For example, if you fail the assessment in 2020 and pass during the grace year in 2021, your next regularly scheduled assessment will be due in 2022. If you fail the assessment in 2022, you will receive a grace year in 2023.

Using the grace year does not reset the schedule of when your assessments are due. For example, if you fail the assessment in 2020 and pass during the grace year in 2021, your next regularly scheduled assessment will be due in 2022.
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.

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.

Certificate status will be updated once results have been validated - several weeks after the close of the assessment window on Nov. 5, 2018 and before Dec. 31, 2018.
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.
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.
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.
If your certificate in another ABS specialty expires in 2018, you will need to pass the recertification exam to continue your certification. Certificate expiration dates will not be extended.
Once a diplomate registers for an assessment, they are automatically enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program. Diplomates who become certified for the first time in 2018 or later are automatically enrolled in the program. Assessment registration must be completed every year in which an assessment is due; program enrollment is ongoing and does not require any additional steps.
 

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