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 approximately 5 hours and is held at computer-testing facilities across the U.S. The exam is administered in three 90-minute sessions, with optional breaks between sessions. Once a session has concluded, you will not be able to revisit those questions.
  • 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
    Registration Deadlines: Aug. 1 (initial deadline); Sept. 1, Oct. 2 and Nov. 1 (late deadlines).
    The new online registration process will be posted by end of April — it is not yet available. See How to Register for more on what will be required.

When to Take Exam

  • ABS certificates expire on Dec. 31. Diplomates are eligible to take 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 Report" below). Surgeons with lapsed certificates should see our Lapsed Certificate Policy.
  • Diplomates who plan to take two MOC exams in the same year do not need to submit the registration materials twice; however registration fees must be submitted for each exam.

General Requirements

To be eligible for this exam, diplomates must:

  • Certification/MOC: Be certified by the ABS in general surgery and meeting the requirements of the ABS MOC Program. Certification may not be revoked. Diplomates not meeting MOC requirements cannot apply for the exam until MOC re-entry requirements are met.
  • Professional Activity: Be in the active practice and/or teaching and/or research and/or administrative activities relevant to general surgery. If diplomates are providing care to hospitalized patients, they must hold practice privileges at an accredited health care institution. If diplomates no longer hold privileges, they must provide an explanation when updating their practice information.
  • Operative Log: Submit an operative report covering the most recent calendar year or 12-month period prior to application, reflecting experience at the hospital 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.
  • Professional References: Receive satisfactory references from the chair of surgery and chair of credentials at the institution where the majority of work is performed. If necessary, another physician of comparable rank may be used.
  • Medical License: Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada. Diplomates are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
  • Adhere to the ABS Ethics and Professionalism Policy.

Exam Registration Process

  • 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. The online registration process is posted each year in spring — please see How to Register. Once you are registered, you will be mailed an exam admission authorization letter with 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.

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. The ABS will also 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 specific inquiries, please send an email to the exam coordinator.

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