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Applying for the QE

How to Apply - General Surgery QE

    Application Access: U.S. chief residents must use the login information sent to their programs in mid-March; Canadian applicants should contact the exam coordinator for access.
  • The application process for the General Surgery Qualifying Exam is posted each year in early spring. Applicants are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible.
  • Exam accommodations: Candidates who need testing accommodations at the center due to learning disabilities must submit a request at the time of application, per our Examination of Persons with Disabilities policy.
  • If you are a nursing mother, or if you have a medical condition such as injury or diabetes, etc., please inform the ABS at the time of application if you will need accommodations. Accommodations might include additional break time during the exam or use of specialized medical equipment, among other things. You must submit your request per our Examination Accommodations policy. Requests should be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the applicant’s exam date. Pearson VUE has specific designated centers that are able to offer such accommodations, and these locations fill up on a first come, first served basis. ABS will work with Pearson VUE to make appropriate arrangements.

Items Required

  • Once the online application process is available, applicants are required to submit the following items:
1) Application Form
  • This form covers information regarding your undergraduate and graduate medical education. You must list chronologically all rotations and activities from the beginning of residency. Each rotation must be listed separately by clinical activity, not grouped together as a yearly total.
  • You must also list all time away from training of two days or more outside your normally scheduled days off, including time taken for research, vacation, interviews, meetings, medical leave, visa issues, and early departures for fellowships.
2) Operative Experience Report
NEW FOR 2021: Applications may be submitted prior to fulfilling ABS case number requirements. However, your operative log meeting required ABS case numbers must be submitted or uploaded no later than June 14, 2021. Exam registration will be permitted pending the formal ABS review and approval of your electronically submitted application materials; if your operative experience report is not submitted by June 14, your registration may be revoked and your exam fee refunded. Application fees are non-refundable

Residents in U.S. programs: Upload a PDF of your ACGME Experience Report by Role via the ABS website.

For your application to be approved, you must meet all case requirements by June 14, 2021:

  • At least 850 total cases.
  • At least 200 chief cases.
  • At least 40 cases listed in surgical critical care (SCC), with at least 1 in each of the 7 categories. You also must have cases listed in nonoperative trauma.
  • At least 25 teaching assistant (TA) cases.

Note: The requirement for 40 SCC cases is effective for applicants graduating in the 2017-2018 academic year. Applicants who graduated before that time must have 25 SCC cases.

Residents in Canadian programs: Complete and submit the ABS operative experience report via the online form. See note above about requirement for SCC, nonoperative trauma and TA cases.

Please review our Training Requirements for full details.

3) Signature Form - signed electronically by you
  • Review, sign and date the Attestation online. Approval of your application is contingent upon approval by your Program Director, who will be contacted separately.
  • Note: To avoid the late fee, the signature form must be submitted by the application deadline.
4) Nonrefundable Application Fee - paid by credit card via the ABS website
  • Submit your credit card payment (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover) where indicated; a completed application form must be submitted first. A separate exam fee will also be required once your application is approved.
  • Note: The total application fee due will be based on when your signature form arrives at the ABS office, not the date you submit the application form or fee.
5) Documentation of ACLS, ATLS, FLS and FES - submitted via the ABS website
  • Upload PDF versions of certificates showing that certification in each of these programs was successfully achieved (NOT the CME certificate, but the certification itself). For ATLS, a history report is not acceptable documentation. Applicants do not need to be currently certified in these programs.
  • Note: The FES requirement is effective with applicants graduating in the 2017-2018 academic year. It is not required of applicants who graduated before that time.
    Other Required Documentation
    **All emailed documents must include the ABS Candidate ID number in the subject line of the email. Documents emailed without the ABS Candidate ID number will delay the processing of your application materials.**
    - Prior ABS Letters of Approval: If you have received prior ABS approval for credit for foreign medical education training, flexible rotations, an international rotation, an extension of training, etc., these letters must be emailed to the exam coordinator.
    - Residents who trained in multiple programs: Documentation of satisfactory completion for years in prior programs must be emailed to the exam coordinator, e.g., copies of certificates of residency year completion or letters from former program directors.
    - International medical graduates: If you are required to have an ECFMG certificate, a PDF of it must be uploaded to the ABS website. The certificate must be valid indefinitely. For Canadian residents, the certificate must be valid through the date of application.
2021 Application Deadlines & Fees
  • By April 30 - $525
  • By May 14 (late deadline) - $725

No applications will be accepted after May 15. Once your application is approved, a separate exam fee of $1350 will also be required.

  • To avoid the late fee, these 4 items must be submitted via the ABS website by end of business day on the application deadline: (1) application form; (2) operative report; (3) signature form; and (4) application fee.
  • Your application will not be approved until ALL required items are present. Please submit your application materials promptly so you can schedule the exam at a testing center of your choosing. The longer you wait to complete the application process, the more likely you will have to travel outside your area to take the exam.

Application Approval

NEW FOR 2021: Once all items are submitted, you will be able to complete the second step and register for the exam while your application is undergoing review. After registering, you will also be able to schedule your test center with Pearson right away. Be advised that testing centers have limited capacity, are subject to social distancing requirements, and may fill up well before the exam date, particularly in urban areas. You should contact Pearson VUE as soon as your admission letter is posted to your portal page to reserve space at a testing center near you. If you delay, you will likely have to travel outside your geographical area in order to schedule the exam.

Once all materials are received, your application will be reviewed by ABS staff. You will be notified via email when your application has been approved. All applicants are responsible for their own applications and will not be notified if items are missing or incorrect. Please check the status of your application in the ABS portal periodically, and please keep your contact information current.

If you do not complete the application process, materials or fees submitted cannot be carried over to another year. Refer to the Booklet of Information - Surgery (pdf) for complete eligibility requirements.

If you have questions, please refer to our FAQs section. For questions not covered in the FAQs, send an email to the exam coordinator.


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