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Examination Accommodations

  • Note: This policy applies only to ABS examinations for initial certification. Accommodations for In-Training exams are at the discretion of the program and do not require ABS approval.
  • Accommodations for Lactating Mothers

  • The American Board of Surgery (ABS) understands and values the importance of a mother’s decision to breastfeed her child. In support of our candidates, the ABS will work with Pearson VUE to try to accommodate requests for accommodations for lactating mothers. 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 has no control over these accommodations. As set forth below, a candidate, who is a lactating mother, may be afforded additional break time in order to express breast milk.
  • Important note: Currently in the Pearson Professional Centers in the Americas region, a private venue to pump at each location has been established. The private venue at each test center varies. It may be either a breakroom with a door or a break area with a privacy screen. Each venue has a chair, table, and electrical outlet and is available on a first come, first served basis. At any given test center, there may be multiple candidates with a Nursing Mothers Accommodation. Upon check-in on the day of the exam, you must inform the center staff that you have been approved for a Nursing Mothers Accommodation. The test center administrator will assist you in reserving the room. Pearson center staff will not interrupt the exam to remind you of your scheduled time for accessing the private venue. You are responsible for accessing the private venue at your reserved time.
  • Children are not permitted at Pearson VUE test centers. For candidates who are exclusively breastfeeding, please email accommodations@absurgery.org to discuss options.
Requesting an Accommodation for a Lactating Mother
Note: The accommodation must be approved prior to scheduling an exam center. Scheduling a center without prior ABS approval will result in an examination appointment without accommodations.
Types of Accommodations for Lactating Mothers

New for the 2022 examinations, timed, scheduled breaks will transition to a break banking model. Upon receipt of the Lactating Mothers Accommodations Request form:

  • The General Surgery Qualifying Examination (QE) and the Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination (VSQE) will start with a bank of 70 minutes of break time.
  • To express breast milk during the QE or the VSQE, lactating mothers will receive an additional 60 minutes of break time added to the break bank, for a total of 130 minutes of break time.
  • The Pediatric Surgery Qualifying Examination (PSQE), the Complex General Surgical Oncology Qualifying Examination (CGSO QE), and Surgical Critical Care Certifying Examination (SCC CE) will start with a bank of 20 minutes of break time.
  • To express breast milk during the PSQE, the CGSO QE, or the SCC CE, lactating mothers will receive an additional 30 minutes of break time added to the break bank, for a total of 50 minutes of break time.
  • With break banking, the candidate has the flexibility to choose how much break time (if any) to use at scheduled breaks between exam sections during the examination. To add further flexibility and more break time, any unused exam time from the previous exam section will be added to your break bank. Your break bank balance will appear in the dialog box when the exam is placed in scheduled break mode. You may wish to make note of this balance. You are responsible for managing your break time. Pearson VUE staff will not monitor your break time and will not provide you with reminders.
  • Note: If you exceed the break time allotted in your bank, that time will be deducted from your next exam section.
GSQE VSQE PSQE, CGSO QE, SCC-CE
Tutorial – 7 min.
Instructions – untimed
Section 1 – 115 min.
Scheduled break – Bank
Section 2 – 115 min.
Scheduled break – Bank
Section 3 – 115 min.
Scheduled break – Bank
Section 4 – 115 min.
Survey - 3 min
Tutorial – 7 min.
Instructions – untimed
Section 1 – 90 min.
Scheduled break – Bank
Section 2 – 90 min.
Scheduled break – Bank
Section 3 – 90 min.
Scheduled break – Bank
Section 4 – 90 min.
Survey - 3 min.
Tutorial – 7 min
Instructions – untimed
Section 1 – 90 min.
Scheduled break – Bank
Section 2 – 90 min
Scheduled break – Bank
Section 3 – 90 min.
Survey - 3 min.

Notification of Determination

The ABS will notify the candidate in writing of its determination. If the ABS is unable to accommodate the candidate because the request constitutes a fundamental alteration of the examination or an undue burden, ABS will also notify the candidate in writing and the basis for that determination.

Upon notification that an accommodation is available, the candidate is responsible for scheduling the desired available center with Pearson VUE as soon as possible. These options are on a first come, first served basis, and delays in contacting Pearson VUE may result in fewer options.


Accommodations for Candidates with Other Medical Conditions

  • The American Board of Surgery (ABS) recognizes that some of our candidates may have a medical condition that may require an accommodation while taking an ABS examination. For example, a candidate, who is a diabetic and wearing an insulin pump with a glucose monitor, may be afforded additional break time in order to check blood sugar levels or may be allowed to bring snacks and water into the test center. In support of our candidates, the ABS will work with Pearson VUE to consider requests for medically needed accommodations on a case-by-case basis.
  • Requesting an Accommodation for a Medical Condition

  • To request an accommodation, candidates must submit the Other Medical Conditions Accommodations Request form at least 30 days prior to the applicant’s exam date. Requests received less than 30 days prior to the exam date will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Supporting documentation may be requested. The completed Other Medical Conditions Accommodations Request form may be emailed to accommodations@absurgery.org.
  • Important Note: If needed, private space may be provided on a first come, first served basis and is subject to test center availability. This may require a candidate to travel to a more distant center with an available private space.
  • Types of Accommodations for Candidates with Other Medical Conditions
  • Upon receipt of the Other Medical Conditions Accommodations Request form, accommodations for candidates with medical conditions will be considered on a case-by case basis.
  • Note: The accommodation must be approved prior to scheduling an exam center. Scheduling a center without prior approval will result in an examination appointment without accommodations.
    Notification of Determination
  • The ABS will notify the candidate in writing of its determination. If the ABS is unable to accommodate the candidate because the request constitutes a fundamental alteration of the examination or an undue burden, ABS will also notify the candidate in writing and the basis for that determination.
  • Upon notification that an accommodation is available, the candidate is responsible for scheduling the desired available center with Pearson VUE as soon as possible. These options are on a first come, first served basis, and delays in contacting Pearson VUE may result in fewer options.

For additional information about Person VUE testing center accommodations, please see our FAQs.

Updated: March 2022


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