Common questions about the QE

FAQs - General Surgery Qualifying Exam

Surgeons who complete general surgery residency after July 1, 2012, have no more than 7 academic years following residency to achieve certification in general surgery, i.e., pass both the QE and CE. The 7-year period starts immediately upon completion of residency. Only one exam opportunity will be offered in each year of the 7-year period.

Applicants who apply to the QE immediately after residency will receive up to 4 opportunities within 4 years to pass the QE. If you delay in applying for the QE after residency, or do not take the QE when offered, you will lose exam opportunities. Upon successful completion of the QE, applicants will be offered up to 3 opportunities within 3 years to pass the CE. The three CE opportunities begin immediately upon successful completion of the QE. If you do not take the CE when offered, you will lose an exam opportunity. Bottom line: Don't delay!
Yes, a D.O. can apply for certification by the ABS if they have completed a general surgery training program accredited by the ACGME or the RCPSC. The same is true for all other ABS specialties. In addition, refer to our Osteopathic Trainees Policy for information regarding individuals currently in an osteopathic residency program.
Yes. A full and unrestricted license is not required for either QE or CE registration. However, a full and unrestricted state medical license will be required before a candidate will be considered certified by the ABS. Candidates must provide proof of medical license before they will be issued their certificate, and will be listed in the ABS verification system as "in the examination process" until proof is submitted. Temporary, limited, educational or institutional licenses will not be accepted, even if you are currently in a fellowship.
No. The individual who was your program director during your residency must approve your application, even if they no longer hold that position.
As of 2017-2018, the ABS' minimum requirements are 850 procedures as operating surgeon over five years, with at least 200 in the chief year. Applicants must also list at least 40 cases in surgical critical care, with a minimum of one in each category, and at least 25 TA cases. See Training Requirements for more details.
No; as long as you have remaining exam opportunities, you will automatically be sent registration information for the next examination. To confirm your participation in that year's QE, you must complete the online registration form and make payment of the exam fee.
Residents' performance on ABS examinations is one factor evaluated by the ACGME when reviewing a residency program's accreditation. Your program thus needs to continuously monitor the examination performance of its residents.