About the QE

Complex General Surgical Oncology Qualifying Exam

  • The CGSO Qualifying Examination is offered once annually as the first of two exams required for board certification in complex general surgical oncology. It contains approximately 200 multiple-choice questions designed to assess a surgeon's cognitive knowledge of CGSO. See also the exam's content outline (pdf).
  • It is a one-day exam lasting 5 hours and is held at computer-testing facilities across the U.S. Results are posted approximately 4 to 8 weeks after the exam. The exam's contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disclosed in any manner.
    Next Exam: Sept. 11, 2017

General Requirements

To be eligible for this exam, applicants must:

  • Certification/MOC: Be currently certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery and in compliance with the ABS MOC Program.
  • Medical License: Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada. Applicants are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
  • Accredited Program: Have satisfactorily completed a two-year training program in complex general surgical oncology accredited by the ACGME or in general surgical oncology accredited by the RCPSC.
    To be eligible for CGSO certification, an individual must have been enrolled in either the first or second year of the training program at the time ACGME or RCPSC accreditation was achieved.
  • Training Time: Have acquired no fewer than 96 weeks of full-time clinical activity over the two years of the training program. See Leave Policy for further details.
  • Professional Activity: Be actively and primarily engaged in the practice of complex general surgical oncology as indicated by holding full surgical privileges in this discipline at an accredited health care institution, or be currently engaged in pursuing additional graduate education in another recognized surgical specialty. An exception to this requirement is active military duty.
  • Operative Log: Submit for the ABS' review an operative experience report as surgeon and assistant surgeon which is deemed acceptable to the ABS, not only as to volume, but as to spectrum and complexity of cases. Cases must be from the applicant's fellowship and verified by the program director.
    New Case Minimums: The RRC-Surgery of the ACGME has implemented new case number requirements (view pdf), effective with surgeons who began CGSO fellowship training as of July 1, 2016. These surgeons will be required to have met the new case requirements by the time of their application to the CGSO QE.
  • Adhere to the ABS Ethics and Professionalism Policy.

Application Process

  • Individuals who meet ABS requirements may apply for the exam through the online application process, which is posted in early spring (see How to Apply). After your application is approved, you will be sent instructions on how to register for this year's exam.
  • Once you are registered for the exam, you will be mailed an exam admission authorization letter with final details and instructions on reserving a place at a computer-testing center. You must have this letter to reserve a testing center spot.
  • Active duty military personnel who may encounter difficulty taking the exam due to their service should contact the ABS as soon as possible.

Exam Opportunities

  • Once your application is approved, you will be granted a maximum of 5 opportunities within a 5-year period to pass the exam. If you decide not to take the exam in a given year, it is a lost opportunity as the five-year limit is absolute.
  • During the five-year period, individuals who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted regarding the next exam; a new application is not necessary.
  • Individuals who exhaust their five-year admissibility period should contact the ABS regarding the readmissibility requirements in effect at that time.

CGSO Certifying Exam

  • Upon successful completion of the CGSO Qualifying Exam, you will be admissible to the CGSO Certifying Exam, an oral exam, and will be contacted with registration information for the next exam.

For specific inquiries, please send an email to the exam coordinator.

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