General Surgery MOC Exam

  • The General Surgery MOC (Recertification) Examination is offered annually over a 2-week window. It consists of approximately 200 multiple-choice questions designed to assess a surgeon's cognitive knowledge and clinical judgment in general surgery. See also the exam's content outline (pdf).
  • The exam lasts 5 hours and is held at computer-testing facilities across the U.S. Results are posted approximately 4 weeks after the exam. The exam's contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disclosed in any manner.
    Next Exam: Nov. 27 - Dec. 12, 2017

When to Apply

  • ABS certificates expire on Dec. 31. Diplomates are eligible to apply for an MOC exam starting 3 years before their certificate's expiration; this includes the final year of certificate validity. Surgeons who no longer operate may submit alternative material (see Operative Log below). Surgeons with lapsed certificates may also apply; see our Lapsed Certificate Policy.
  • Diplomates who apply for two MOC exams in the same year do not need to submit the application materials twice; however application and exam fees must be submitted for each exam.

General Requirements

To be eligible for this exam, applicants must:

  • Certification/MOC: Be certified by the ABS in general surgery. Certification may not be revoked. If you are enrolled in the ABS MOC Program, you must be in compliance with MOC. Diplomates not in compliance cannot apply for the exam until MOC re-entry requirements are met.
  • 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.
  • Professional Activity: Be in the active practice and/or teaching and/or research and/or administrative activities relevant to general surgery. If applicants are providing care to hospitalized patients, they must hold practice privileges at an accredited health care institution. If applicants do not hold privileges, they must provide an explanation on the application form.
  • Operative Log: Submit an operative report covering the most recent calendar year or 12-month period prior to application, reflecting experience at the two hospitals where the majority of work is performed. Note: Diplomates who no longer operate but still see patients may submit alternative material (see FAQs). Diplomates who no longer treat patients at all may apply per the Clinically Inactive Policy.
  • CME: Demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning by completing 60 credits of Category 1 CME over the past two years or recent 24-month period.
  • Adhere to the ABS Ethics and Professionalism Policy.

Application Process

  • The online application process is posted each year 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 examination. If you decide not to take the exam in a given year, it is a lost opportunity as the five-year limit is absolute. The 5-year exam admissibility period is independent of your certificate's expiration date.
  • During the five-year admissibility period, individuals who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted each year regarding the next exam. A new application is not necessary.
  • Readmissibility: Individuals who exhaust this five-year period may re-apply for the exam, meeting all current application requirements. See our Lapsed Certificate Policy for additional details.

Maintenance of Certification (MOC)

  • Upon passing the MOC exam, you will be issued a new certificate with an expiration 10 years from the expiration date of your previous certificate. You will also be enrolled in the ABS MOC Program if you are not yet enrolled. The ABS will waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward MOC for this recertification; the waiver will appear automatically in your CME Repository.
  • Surgeons who achieve ABS recertification may also 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.

For additional information, refer to the ABS Booklet on Recertification/MOC (pdf).

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

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