MOC Exams - Recertification

Please see also our announcement of July 7 regarding changes to the ABS MOC Program.

New Process as of 2017: The ABS no longer requires a separate application process for MOC exams. As long as you are meeting MOC requirements and have a certificate that will expire in 3 years or less, you may register for an exam. There are still some materials to be submitted — see your respective exam for details and our Quick Guide (pdf).

The ABS offers MOC (recertification) examinations in the following specialties:

  • MOC exams are required for a diplomate to renew his or her certification. By maintaining their certification, diplomates demonstrate their knowledge of contemporary practice and commitment to quality patient care.
  • The exams are generally offered each year in the fall over a 2-week window at computer-testing centers across the U.S. The online registration process opens each spring, at which time a link to the registration process will be posted under each specialty in this section and in the log-in area (My Records).

When to Take Exam

  • ABS certificates expire on Dec. 31. Diplomates are eligible to take an MOC (recertification) exam starting 3 years before their certificate's expiration; this includes the final year of certificate validity. For example, a surgeon with a certificate expiring on Dec. 31, 2020, would first be eligible to take an MOC exam in 2018.
  • As of 2017, the ABS no longer requires a separate application process. As long as you are meeting MOC requirements and have a certificate that will expire in 3 years or less, you may register to take the exam by submitting a 12-month operative log, reference forms, and a registration fee. Diplomates who no longer operate may submit alternative information. Diplomates who register for two MOC exams in the same year do not need to submit most materials twice; however fees must be submitted for each exam.
    Diplomates must be meeting MOC requirements to register for an MOC (recertification) exam in any ABS specialty.

Exam Format

  • MOC exams consist of multiple-choice questions designed to assess a surgeon's cognitive knowledge and clinical judgment. Examinations are developed by committees consisting of ABS directors and other experienced surgeons in community and academic practice. Content outlines are available for all exams. The examinations are 5 hours in length (three consecutive 90-minute sessions, with 10-minute breaks between sessions). The HPM MOC Exam, given through ABIM, is 8 hours in length.

General Surgery vs. Surgical Specialties

  • While diplomates are encouraged to maintain certification in both general surgery and their additional specialty, this is not required. As of 1997, maintaining a certificate in general surgery is not required for maintaining certification in other ABS specialties. Surgeons who allow their general surgery certificate to lapse while maintaining a certificate in another ABS specialty will no longer be reported as certified in general surgery, but will still be considered as certified by the ABS.
  • Diplomates who become certified in general surgery and then wish to certify in another ABS specialty must be in compliance with the ABS MOC Program to be admissible to the certification process.

Certificate Duration

  • ABS certificates are valid for a period of 10 years, from the date of issuance through December 31 of the year of expiration. Surgeons who recertify prior to the expiration date of their certificate receive a new certificate with an expiration date extending from the expiration date of the previous certificate, not the date of recertification.

CME Credit

  • The ABS will waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward the ABS MOC Program for recertification by the ABS or another ABMS board. For the ABS, a waiver will appear automatically in your CME Repository. For another ABMS board, you will need to enter those credits into your CME Repository and provide documentation if requested.
  • In addition, surgeons who achieve ABS recertification may apply to the AMA to receive 60 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Please see the AMA website and the direct CME application (pdf) for details.
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