Get Certified

Hand Surgery

Certifying Examination

The Hand Surgery Certifying Examination is offered annually as the single exam required for board certification in hand surgery.


About the Hand Surgery Certifying Examination

The Hand Surgery Certifying Examination (HSCE) is offered annually by the ABS in conjunction with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) and the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) through Pearson VUE. Successful completion of the exam is required to achieve board certification in hand surgery. A diplomate may enter the exam process through only one certifying board and may not apply to a different board for additional exam opportunities. Candidates for certification in hand surgery must contact the exam manager for access to the exam application.

The exam consists of approximately 175 multiple-choice questions designed to assess a surgeon’s cognitive knowledge and clinical judgment. It lasts approximately four hours and is administered in four 60-minute sessions, with 15 minutes of total break time allotted for use between sessions.

Results are posted approximately 10 to 12 weeks after the exam; candidates will be notified by email when they are available.

Active duty military personnel who may encounter difficulty taking the exam due to their service should contact the ABS as soon as possible.

When Can I Take My Exam?

Five-year limit to achieve certification in hand surgery

The admissibility period for the Hand Surgery Certifying Exam (HSCE) begins immediately upon application to the exam.

  • Candidates will have no more than five academic years following initial application to the exam to complete the certification process (i.e., pass the CE).
  • The five-year period begins immediately upon submission of the HSCE application.
  • Upon application approval, applicants will be granted up to three opportunities within five consecutive years to pass the HSCE.

This exam is offered only once per year. During the exam admissibility period, individuals who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted regarding the next exam; a new application is not necessary.

The above limits are absolute. Individuals who exceed any of the above restrictions will lose their admissibility and must contact the ABS regarding the readmissibility requirements in effect at that time.

Hand Surgery Certifying Examination
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: $1,725
Application Deadline: 3/1/2024
Fee: $550
Late App Deadline: 3/15/2024
Fee: $750

Exam Requirements

Candidates must be meeting all requirements at the time of application to the Hand Surgery CE

To be eligible for this exam, applicants must have satisfactorily completed a one-year training program in hand surgery accredited by the ACGME.

In addition, candidates must have been in the active practice of hand surgery for at least two (2) years following completion of training and be currently engaged in the practice of hand surgery.

Medical License Requirement

Candidates for certification in hand surgery must possess a 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. Temporary, limited, educational or institutional licenses will not be accepted, even if the candidate is currently in a fellowship.

Applying for the Certifying Exam

Applicants are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible

Applications for the Hand Surgery CE are available at the beginning of each calendar year. Applicants are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible.

Candidates who need testing accommodations at the center must submit a request at the time of application, per our Examination Accommodations and Examination of Persons with Disabilities policies.

Once the online application process is available, applicants are required to submit the following items:

This form covers information regarding the applicant’s undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate medical education.

To avoid the late fee, the signature form must be submitted by the application deadline.

Submit for ABS review a list of at least 125 cases managed during a consecutive 15-month period within the two (2) years preceding application. Hand surgery includes only those procedures performed on the upper extremity distal to the elbow.

The 125 cases must be separated by category and meet the following minimums in at least five (5) of the following nine (9) categories:

Category – Minimum Number of Cases

  • Bone and Joint – 20
  • Nerve – 20
  • Tendon and Muscle – 20
  • Skin and Wound Problems – 14
  • Contracture and Joint Stiffness – 10
  • Tumor – 10
  • Congenital – 3
  • Microvascular – 3
  • Nonoperative – 6

Nonoperative cases are those which require significant evaluation, such as pain problems, and must be documented with consultation reports. No more than six (6) nonoperative cases will be accepted.

Complex cases can satisfy up to three (3) categories. For example, the management of a complex mutilating injury involving repair of muscle, tendon, nerve, vascular injury, and skin would count for muscle and tendon, nerve, and vascular repair, but not for the skin. This example clearly indicates a more complex operative experience than a simple, single-task surgery.

Those cases in which the involvement of two (2) categories is part of a single-focus surgery, such as the use of a tendon in ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition of the basal joint, would count as only one case.

Submit the nonrefundable credit card payment (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover) via the ABS surgeon portal; a completed application form must be submitted first. A separate exam fee will also be required once the application is approved.

Note: The total application fee due will be based on when the application is received by the ABS office, not on the date the application form or fee is submitted.

Application Approval

Once all materials are received, the application will be reviewed by ABS staff. Applicants will be notified via email when their application has been approved and will receive instructions on how to register for the exam.

After registering, applicants will be able to schedule their test center with Pearson VUE.

If the application process is not complete, materials or fees submitted cannot be carried over to another year.

Exam Irregularities, Results, and Continuous Certification

Results are typically available 12 weeks after the exam

If a candidate experiences an irregularity during their examination, they must notify the exam manager IMMEDIATELY BUT NO LATER THAN ONE (1) BUSINESS DAY following the exam. Requests received after that time will not be considered.

Results are posted approximately 12 weeks after the exam; candidates will be notified by email when they are available. Exam results will not be reported over the telephone.

Individuals who were unsuccessful on the exam and have opportunities remaining will be contacted the following year when registration is available for the next exam.

Continuous Certification

If successful on the exam, candidates will be deemed certified in hand surgery and will receive their official certificate within six (6) months.

Following certification, diplomates must participate in the ABS Continuous Certification Program to maintain their certificate. The ABS will waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward Continuous Certification for this certification; the waiver will appear automatically in diplomates’ CME Repository.

Surgeons who achieve ABS certification may also apply to the AMA to receive 60 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Please see the AMA website and the direct CME application for details.


Our exam managers are here to help.

For application forms and additional information, please contact the hand surgery exam manager.

Contact a Coordinator

Please use the form below to contact the appropriate exam coordinator. They will respond as soon as possible.