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Vascular Surgery

Qualifying Examination

The Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination (VSQE) is offered annually as the first of two exams required for board certification in vascular surgery.


About the Vascular Surgery Qualifying Exam

The Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination (VSQE) is offered annually as the first of two exams required for board certification in vascular surgery. The exam consists of about 250 multiple-choice questions designed to assess a surgeon’s cognitive knowledge of core surgery and vascular surgery. 

It is a one-day exam lasting approximately six hours and is held at computer-testing facilities across the U.S. The exam is administered in four 90-minute sessions, with optional 10-minute breaks between sessions, and one longer 40-minute break offered between the second and third session. Once a session has concluded, candidates are not be able to revisit those questions.

Results are posted approximately four to eight weeks after the exam; candidates will be notified by email when they are available. The exam’s contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disclosed in any manner.

When Can I Take My Exams?

Seven-year limit to certification, four-year limit to the QE

The admissibility period for the VSQE begins immediately upon completion of training. Candidates are strongly encouraged not to delay in applying for and taking the VSQE for the first time as delays may adversely affect performance. 

This exam is offered only once per academic year. During the exam admissibility period, individuals who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted each year 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 pursue a readmissibility pathway to re-enter the certification process.

Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: $1,575
Application Deadline: 7/1/2024
Fee: $550
Late App Deadline: 7/15/2024
Fee: $750
5/13 - 5/15
Vascular Surgery Certifying Examination
Location: Virtual
Fee: $1,700

Registration available following the release of 2023 VSQE results.

Exam Requirements

Candidates must be meeting all requirements at the time of application to the VSQE

To be eligible for this exam, applicants must have satisfactorily completed a training program in vascular surgery accredited by the ACGME or RCPSC. During training, candidates must have obtained increasing levels of responsibility to become fully prepared for independent practice.

In addition, candidates must be actively engaged in the practice of vascular surgery as indicated by holding full surgical privileges in this discipline at an accredited health care institution or be currently engaged in pursuing additional graduate education in a component of vascular surgery or other recognized surgical specialty. The only exception to this requirement is active military duty.

Medical License Requirement

A full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada is not required to apply to the Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination (VSQE) or register for the Vascular Surgery Certifying Examination (VSCE). 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 a candidate is currently in a fellowship. All requirements for certification must be met within seven (7) years of completing training.

Applying for the Qualifying Exam

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

As a reminder, graduates of independent (5+2) and ESP (4+2) pathways must first have an approved application to the General Surgery Qualifying Exam (GSQE), meeting all application requirements, before access to the VSQE will be provided.

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 submit the following:

This form covers information regarding the applicant’s undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate medical education. All rotations and activities from the beginning of vascular surgery training must be listed chronologically. Each rotation must be listed separately by clinical activity, not grouped together as a yearly total.

Applicants must also list all time away from training of two days or more outside of any normally scheduled days off, including time taken for research, vacation, interviews, meetings, medical leave, and visa issues.

Operative logs uploaded prior to meeting the required cases numbers will be deleted and a note regarding its deficiencies will be posted to the applicant’s portal.  Applicants are responsible for monitoring their portal and uploading the case log meeting all case requirements.

Residents in U.S. programs: Upload a PDF of your ACGME Vascular Surgery Defined Category and Minimum Report (preferred) or the ACGME Experience Report by Role Report via the ABS website.

For the application to be approved, applicants must have:

  • At least 250 major vascular reconstructions must be listed.
  • For individuals completing integrated (0+5) training programs, a minimum of 40 cases in surgical critical care must be listed, with at least one in each of the seven categories: ventilatory management; bleeding (non-trauma); hemodynamic instability; organ dysfunction / failure; dysrhythmias; invasive line management and monitoring; and parenteral / enteral nutrition.

Please review our Training Requirements for full details.

Review, sign and date the attestation online. Approval of the application is contingent upon approval by the applicant’s program director, who will be contacted separately.

Note: To avoid the late fee, the signature form must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. ET on the deadline date.

Submit the nonrefundable 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 the application is approved.

Note: The total application fee due will be based on when the application fee is paid. To avoid the late fee, payment of the application bee must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. ET on the deadline date.

Upload PDF versions of certificates showing that certification in each of these programs was successfully achieved. Applicants do not need to be currently certified in these programs.

    • ATLS: a CME certificate, the history report, and/or a course participation certification do not demonstrate certification was achieved and are not acceptable. These documents will be deleted from your portal.
    • ACLS: when the course is in two parts, documentation of both online and hands-on portions must be uploaded as one document. If only one portion of the certificate is uploaded, this document will be deleted.
    • When a document is deleted, a note regarding the deficiency will be posted in the portal.

Applicants are responsible for monitoring their own portal and uploading all documentation that meets ABS requirements.

Applicants to the VSQE must have obtained Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation® (RPVI®) certification, and provide documentation of current or past certification during application. The exam required for RPVI certification is now offered year-round, with official results posted within the next week. See for more details.

**All documents may be uploaded in the ABS Surgeon Portal.**

Prior ABS Letters of Approval: If the applicant 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 the applicant is 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.

Application Approval

Once all items are submitted, applicants will be able to complete the second step and register for the exam while their application is undergoing review.

After registering, an Exam Admission/Authorization Letter will be posted to the applicant’s ABS portal within 2-5 business days. The Exam Admission/Authorization letter will not be mailed or emailed.  Once posted, applicants will need to log on to their portal to access the Exam Admission/Authorization letter in order to schedule a test center with Pearson VUE immediately.

The ABS provides Pearson VUE with the applicant’s mailing address that is on file at the time of registration. If this information is not updated, an incorrect mailing address will be transmitted to Pearson VUE. To facilitate the best exam center scheduling experience with Pearson VUE, applicants should ensure that the ABS has a current mailing address at the time of registration.

If requesting accommodations, applicants must have submitted the appropriate forms and documentation and have obtained ABS approval prior to registering for the examination. Registering and scheduling an exam center without prior ABS approval will result in an examination appointment without accommodations.

Be advised that testing centers have limited capacity and may fill up well before the exam date, particularly in urban areas. Applicants should contact Pearson VUE as soon as the admission letter is posted to the ABS portal to reserve space at a local testing center. If applicants delay, they will likely have to travel outside of the local geographical area in order to schedule the exam.

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

Canadian Applicants

All requirements for certification also apply to graduates of Canadian training programs

Canadian applicants must adhere to all of the above requirements and must have completed all general surgery and vascular surgery training in programs accredited by the RCPSC or ACGME. For independent trainees, a minimum of 12 months of rotations related to vascular surgery must have been completed during general surgery residency. Canadian applicants should also make certain that any “block rotations” will meet ABS requirements.

Exam Irregularities, Results, and Next Steps

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

Upon successful completion of the VSQE, candidates will be admissible to the Vascular Surgery Certifying Examination (VSCE) and may register for the next exam.

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.

Our exam managers are here to help.

Most questions can be answered with the information available on our website. For specific inquiries, please contact the vascular surgery exam manager.

Next Steps
Upon successful completion of the VSQE, candidates will be admissible to the VSCE and will be contacted with registration information for the next exam.

Contact a Coordinator

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