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The Article-Based Continuing Certification Pathway (ABCC) is an online alternative option to the traditional ten-year recertification exam. Diplomates will complete a set of article exams every 3-year block for each ABPN certification held. Successful completion of the exams for every 3-year block will satisfy the assessment requirement in lieu of taking the traditional proctored 10-year recertification exam. Diplomates will still need to complete all other Continuing Certification (CC) Program requirements (CME, Self-Assessment (SA), and PIP) to remain certified. Maintaining certification requires staying current with all CC Program requirements, including successful completion of the article exams during ongoing 3-year blocks.
Beginning in 2022, the article-based pathway will be available for all ABPN-administered specialties and subspecialties excluding Brain Injury Medicine, Pain Medicine, and Sleep Medicine (see Multi-Disciplinary Specialties (MDS) section). All diplomates with active certification(s) will be automatically enrolled in the ABCC Pathway, with the option to choose the Exam Pathway instead. Diplomates must participate in the same assessment pathway for all ABPN certifications.
Diplomates should use their Physician Portal as their premier resource for personalized certification status and requirements, including their ABCC Pathway timeline and progress.
Diplomates will still have the option to take the traditional ten-year recertification exam instead of participating in the article-based pathway. The ABCC Pathway will be the default assessment option for current and new diplomates unless the exam option is chosen.
Diplomates need to successfully complete a set of article assessments every 3-year block for each certification.
The Physician Portal will indicate how many article exams a diplomate needs to complete per certification, and the deadline to complete article exams. Diplomates participating in the ABCC Pathway for one active certification need to pass 30 out of 40 article exams offered per 3-year block on an ongoing basis.
ABPN diplomates will be required to read a minimum of 30 articles but no more than 40 articles and answer 4 out of 5 questions correctly on the first attempt for 30 journal article mini-exams.
Diplomates with multiple certifications complete a reduced total number of exams (see info in Multiple Certifications section).
|Number of Certification(s)||Total Article Exams to Pass every 3-year block||Number of attempted article exams allowed|
The article exams are accessed online through your ABPN Physician Portal account in the Assessment section during your 3-year CC block dates. The exam platform can be accessed online anywhere and at any time.
Diplomates have until the end of their 3-year block to complete the required number of article exams indicated in their Physician Portal. The questions are not timed after a mini exam is opened. Diplomates can log in and out of the questions as much as needed prior to submitting the answers for scoring of an article exam.
Once a mini-exam is open, a diplomate is committed to completing that mini-exam. Therefore, ABPN strongly recommends diplomates access and read an article prior to opening the mini-exam related to that article.
Yes. Diplomates can refer to an article as many times as needed, as the questions are derived directly from the information presented in the article. The questions/answers do not reference any external information or sources.
The ABPN Test Writing Committees include nominated members from the ABPN and from professional societies. The Committees develop a content outline, select journal articles relevant to clinical practice, and write questions related to those articles. All articles are nominated, reviewed, and selected by the committees based solely upon their quality, relevance to a particular area on a content outline, and their relevance to clinical practice. The articles reflect topics on the content outline. Diplomates are welcome to submit recommendations of current articles for the committee’s consideration.
While the ABPN will provide links on its website to the journal articles, diplomates are responsible for accessing the articles. Diplomates may choose to contact their professional associations, medical schools, or local libraries to determine if the articles are available at low or reduced cost as part of their affiliation or appointment.
While diplomates are welcome to discuss the articles, sharing of mini-exam questions and answers is strictly prohibited by the ABPN and would be considered irregular behavior according to ABPN’s policies.
New articles are continuously added to the article catalog. Older articles will be phased out over time.
Diplomates can view question samples and a tutorial overview of the platform on our website. It is recommended that diplomates view the informative tutorial to familiarize themselves on how to navigate the exam platform and complete the exams.
Diplomates need to choose from the ABPN-procured article list for the specialty. Diplomates are presented with the article exams pertaining to the specialty.
Each certification includes ten main content categories that are covered on the traditional recertification exam. Diplomates can pass up to 4 articles per category.
No, examinees must take the traditional proctored and computerized examination for initial specialty and subspecialty certifications. The article-based pathway is an alternative assessment option to the traditional recertification exam.
All ABPN diplomates can participate in the article-based pathway beginning in 2022. See Rollout/Transition Schedule section.
All ABPN certifications are eligible, with the exception of the subspecialty exams administered by other ABMS member boards. Diplomates who hold a Brain Injury Medicine, Pain Medicine and Sleep Medicine certification should contact the respective administering boards to inquire about available longitudinal assessment (Part III) options. Neurocritical Care article exams will be available in 2025.
There will be an open enrollment period at the end of 2021 for current Continuing Certification (CC) diplomates to choose an assessment option (ABCC or Exam). Diplomates can learn more about the new ABCC Pathway and become familiar with the newly designed Physician Portal during the enrollment period. All active diplomates in the CC Program who do not select an option will be automatically assigned to the article-based pathway.
Diplomates have the option to switch to the Exam Pathway by changing the pathway enrollment option in their Portal or applying for and passing the traditional CC/recertification exam the tenth year from their last exam.
The ABCC Pathway will be the automatic default assessment option for all diplomates entering the CC Program in 2022 (certified in 2021 and beyond). Diplomates may elect to change to the Exam Pathway by the end of their sixth consecutive year in the CC Program. ABCC pathway registration is completed in a Physician Portal.
Diplomates can always switch to the traditional recertification exam; however, diplomates cannot elect into the ABCC Pathway within three years of the certification’s tenth year (years 7-9). They will be required to pass the traditional exam their tenth year from last passing the exam. Diplomates have the option to switch to the Exam Pathway by changing the pathway enrollment option in their Physician Portal or applying for and passing the traditional CC/recertification exam the tenth year from their last exam.
The article-based pathway option begins in 2022 for all diplomates.
Diplomates should refer to their Physician Portal for their ABCC Pathway timeline and progress.
Yes. For diplomates due for a recertification exam in 2022-2024, any passed Pilot exams will count towards the 2022-2024 block of articles. Article exam results are saved in the exam platform and Physician Portal. Diplomates should refer to their Physician Portal as the primary source of information regarding the number of article exams needed to complete the 2022-2024 block requirements.
Diplomates who were awarded 2010 and/or 2011 primary and/or subspecialty certificates will have until 12/15/2022 to complete 30 article exams per certification. There will be an application and fee to submit by 9/1/2022. Diplomates will have access to the article exams as soon as they submit an article-based pathway application.
Diplomates who were unsuccessful with the Part III Pilot exams will need to take the traditional recertification/CC exam. Diplomates who were due in 2020 or 2021 will need to apply for and pass the traditional/CC exam by 12/15/2022 to avoid a lapse of certification. After passing the recertification exam, such diplomates will have the option to enroll in the ABCC Pathway to continue their certification.
No. Diplomates will not have the option to join the ABCC Pathway after 6 years (two CC blocks) of no activity or insufficient activity in the ABCC Pathway. At that point, a diplomate will revert to the Exam Pathway provided they are meeting all other CC requirements (SA, CME, PIP, licensure, and fees). Diplomates must pass article exams for a certification within 6 years (two 3-year blocks) to remain in the article-based pathway.
If a diplomate passes a subspecialty exam(s), those subspecialty article exam calculations/assignments begin the next full 3-year block.
Diplomates in the CC program in 2022 will retain their CC status (Meeting CC Requirements or Not Meeting CC Requirements) during the 2022-2024 block transition into the ABCC Pathway. Diplomates need to be up to date with the certification requirements to continue to be listed as certified but can participate in the article-based pathway by the end of the 2022-2024 CC block.
Successful completion of both the current block of requirements and ABCC Pathway are required to maintain certification. Diplomates who do not complete the requirements after two 3-year blocks (6 years) will no longer be certified. Such diplomates will be required to complete one block of requirements, and pass the assessment for each certificate they wish to recertify in.
See Physician Portal to review your status and any pending requirements.
Diplomates begin the ABCC Pathway in their first 3-year block of the CC Program following initial primary certification. Subspecialty article exams begin the next full 3-year block following the passing of an initial subspecialty certification.
The CC Program annual fee is determined by the number of certificates a diplomate holds. Payment of the annual fee covers annual reporting and verification of board certification, and participation in the article-based or exam pathway. Diplomates who hold multiple certifications will pay a discounted fee rate.
Yes, diplomates who participate in the article-based pathway for multiple certifications will complete a reduced number of exams per certification. Diplomates must complete a minimum of 20 article exams per certification area. The additional 10 article exams may be selected and completed in any certification area (flexible based on diplomate’s choice).
|Number of Certification(s)||Total Article Exams to Pass per 3-year block||Articles per
|Plus, Number of
articles in any
|Number of attempted
article exams allowed
|2||50||20 per certification||10 flexible||67|
|3||70||20 per certification||10 flexible||93|
|4||90||20 per certification||10 flexible||120|
No, diplomates will be required to choose either the article-based pathway or the exam pathway for all their certifications.
Article exams are assigned, completed, and evaluated in ongoing three-year blocks, just as with the CME, Self-Assessment, and PIP requirements. Current 3-year blocks will be reset to 2022-2024 so that diplomates only have one timeline for multiple certifications.
Diplomates with lapsed certificate(s) can participate in the ABCC Pathway in lieu of taking the traditional recertification exam.
|Number of Lapsed/Expired Certification(s)||Total article exams to pass before reported as Certified||Number of article exams PER certificate||Plus, number of article exams in any certificate||Number of attempted article exams allowed|
While a Lifetime certificate holder is not required to participate in the Continuing Certification Program, diplomates with a lifetime certificate(s) have the option to participate in the article-based pathway in lieu of taking the traditional recertification exam. Lifetime certificate holders will always keep their Lifetime certificate even if they opt to participate in the Continuing Certification program. Diplomates will need to enroll in the ABCC Pathway in their Physician Portal. Upon enrolling they will be reported as ‘Certified- Meeting CC Requirements’. They then have 3 years to pass 30 article exams and complete 90 CME, 24 Self-Assessment (SA) credits, 1 PIP activity, and 1 Patient Safety activity, as well as pay the annual fees to continue to be listed as ‘Certified- Meeting CC Requirements’. Such diplomates can opt to take the traditional recertification exam in lieu of the article-based pathway.
Diplomates with an invalidated certificate(s) can participate in the article-based pathway in lieu of taking the traditional recertification exam. First, they must be cleared and credentialed for reinstatement. They will then need to complete 90 CME, 24 Self-Assessment (SA), 1 PIP activity, and 1 Patient Safety activity within the past three years; submit a CC application and fee, and documentation of completed requirements for audit. They will then need to pass 90 article exams within three years to recertify. Due to the phase-in of articles to choose from, diplomates with lapsed certificates might have to wait a few years for a full catalog of exams to complete for a subspecialty(ies). Alternatively, they can complete the requirements and pass the traditional recertification exam. See table for lapsed/expired certificates.
Diplomates with multiple certifications can participate in the ABCC Pathway. See Multiple Certifications section.
Diplomates who hold an active ABPN certification and a MDS certificate (Brain Injury Medicine, Pain Medicine, and Sleep Medicine) must check with the administering board for possible longitudinal assessment options for their MDS certificate(s).
ABPN diplomates issued certification in Neurocritical Care from ABPN will have the option to begin the article-based pathway in 2025.
Yes. Diplomates are required to complete the Continuing Certification requirements as outlined in their Physician Portal. Successful ongoing completion of article exams every 3-year CC block will take the place of the traditional recertification exam every tenth year.
Yes, successful completion of the article exams automatically counts for a waiver of 16 out of the 24 Self-Assessment (SA) credits needed per 3-year block. The waiver applies to the current block at the time of completion the article exams. A minimum of 8 out of 24 SA CME credits must derive from SA activities listed on the Approved Products List. If a diplomate catches up with the article exams in years 4-6 (second 3-year block), the 16 SA credits is waived for the 2nd 3-year block, but they cannot count two SA-CME waivers per block.
Note: ABPN is not a CME provider. While non-CME Self-Assessment waiver options contribute to the Self-Assessment requirement of the ABPN CC Program, they are NOT recognized by state medical licensing boards as Category 1 CME credits.
Diplomates may be able to obtain Category 1 CME credits from the American Medical Association (AMA) upon successful completion of one block of article exams. If the articles are accessed through a professional organization, that organization might award CME credits. At this time, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) offers CME credits for articles accessed through their website. More information will be available later in 2022.
Diplomates need to satisfy all CC requirements every three-year block in order to maintain their certification status. A diplomate will be reported as “Certified- Not Meeting CC Requirements” if they do not sign on to their ABPN Physician Portal account, pay the annual fee and attest to completed activity requirements by the end of a 3-year block. A diplomate may change their status to ‘Meeting CC Requirements” by completing insufficient block activities, current block activities, and payment of all required fees.
A diplomate will be reported as “Not Certified” if they do not complete 6 years (two consecutive 3-year blocks) of CC activities. A diplomate may change their status back to “Certified–Meeting CC requirements” upon successful completion of a block of CC requirements and passing a CC examination or following the steps for lapsed certificate reentry via the ABCC Pathway.
If a diplomate does not pass 30 article exams in their first 3-year block, they can ‘catch up’ on article exams in the second consecutive 3-year block. In other words, for one certificate in the ABCC Pathway, they will need to pass 60 articles exams by the end of year 6 (second 3-year block).
Diplomates will remain in the block until they complete all CC block requirements. Their certification status will change to ‘Certified- Not Meeting CC Requirements’ until all elements have been satisfied for that 3-year block. Once they complete all requirements, then they will advance to the next 3-year block and can begin another set of article exams and requirements.
Diplomates will be able to begin the article exams if the CC requirements are not up-to-date; however, the requirements will need to be completed by the end of the current 3-year block to be listed as ‘Certified-Meeting CC Requirements’ and to proceed to the next block.
A diplomate’s CC status at the end of 2021 will carry over to the 2022-2024 block.
Yes, diplomates still need to complete the CME, Self-Assessment (SA), and PIP requirement prior to submitting the ABCC Pathway application and recertification fee by 9/1/2022. Passing the article exams prior to submitting the application may waive 16 out of the 24 Self-Assessment (SA) credits required.
A diplomate’s status will remain ‘Certified- Meeting CC Requirements’ even if 30 article credits are not successfully completed in the first 3-year block, but only if they are meeting all other CC block requirements for CME, SA, PIP, fees, etc.
A diplomate will become Not Certified if they:
Beginning in 2022, diplomates will pay an annual fee for each active certification. Diplomates with multiple active certifications will pay a reduced combined annual fee. Payment of the annual fees will cover the participation in the article-based pathway. Diplomates must remain current with the annual fees, as well as the requirements (CME, SA, PIP). Diplomates may need to pay to access specific articles based on what the publisher charges for access to their articles The article listing indicates whether an article is available at no cost or may need to be purchased.
Diplomates who hold multiple certifications will qualify for a combined discount on their annual fees. The fees will cover participation in the ABCC Pathway or the Exam Pathway. Diplomates will no longer be required to submit recertification applications for active certifications. A diplomate will only be required to apply and pay the recertification fee if certification lapses, and they wish to regain certification.
|Annual Fee per certification(s)||Annual Fee|
Payment of the annual fees cover the cost of the participation in the ABCC Pathway.
If a diplomate was awarded a 2010 or 2011 certificate(s), they will pay for recertification in 2022 when they submit the article-based pathway application. Article-based applications are located in the Physician Portal Examinations section.
If a diplomate has an expired/lapsed certificate, they will need to pay in full for recertification at the time they submit the article-based pathway application.
Most of the articles are free to everyone and/or to members of the professional associations collaborating with the ABPN on the article-based assessment (e.g., AACAP, AAN, APA, CNS, etc.). The cost of articles is determined by the publisher. Other articles will be charged per purchase based off of the cost determined by the publisher. ABPN does not have any control over the publisher’s cost.
ABPN strongly recommends a diplomate not open a mini-exam until after they have accessed the article related to that mini-exam. Once a mini exam is open, it must be completed.
Diplomates can share articles, provided sharing is permissible by the publisher of the article. Articles may be under copyright permissions.
Diplomates will need to take the traditional recertification exam if they are unsuccessful with the article-based pathway. They will need to submit an application and exam fee, and then pass the CC exam.
Diplomates need to complete 4 out of 5 questions correct on the first attempt for each article exam. Diplomates may change their responses to individual questions prior to submitting the article exam for final scoring. Diplomates participating in the ABCC Pathway for one certificate need to pass 30 out of 40 article exams for every 3-year block. For information on number of attempts, see Multiple Certifications section.
Diplomates who are unsuccessful with article exam requirements for a 3-year block can catch up with the article exams in the second consecutive 3-year block (i.e., complete 60 exams in 6 years for one certificate).
If a diplomate does not pass 60 article exams after 6 years, then they will need to take the traditional recertification exam. A diplomate may not continue with the article assessment option after two incomplete or unsuccessful 3-year blocks. In this situation, a diplomate would automatically revert to the traditional recertification examination, provided they are in good standing with all the other requirements (CME, SA, PIP, fees, etc).
If a diplomate fails the articles for their subspecialty certification(s), their subspecialty certificate will lapse but they can still complete the article exams for their primary certification(s) provided there is time left in their 6-year block.
Once the answers are submitted, diplomates receive immediate online results. Diplomates can track their progress in their Physician Portal and in the exam platform. Diplomates must pass the article exams and continue to keep up to date with the CC requirements in order to proceed to the next 3-year block.
Diplomates in our Continuing Certification (CC) program will retain their current certificate, which does not have an expiration date, since certification is ongoing and contingent upon meeting all CC Program requirements. Diplomates who have a lapsed certificate will receive a new certificate upon recertification. Printable exam completion certificates will be available in the Physician Portal. Diplomates may also request a formal verification letter from the ABPN. Credentialers can view current certification statuses in our online directory, VerifyCert.
Diplomates may leave feedback on a specific question. Even after completing an exam, diplomates can return to a question to leave direct feedback. Feedback will be logged and reviewed by the Exam committee. If a committee revises a question, diplomates will be notified by email of the rescoring. Once the Exam Committee has reviewed a disputed question, the determination of the Committee is final and binding.
It is the ABPN’s long-standing policy that any comment left by an examinee regarding the questions on our examinations needs to be reviewed individually and carefully. Most often, the review process will decide that the question should remain as is. In these cases, the ABPN does not inform the examinee who commented on that item. However, if after thorough review and rigorous deliberation our committee of content experts for that examination determines that a question is indeed flawed, we will modify the question and rescore the exam that delivered the flawed question.
When rescoring takes place, we can assure you that, if your initial score on the question was incorrect, your score on that question will then be corrected to reflect the modification. Every examinee whose initial score was negatively affected by the flawed item will receive an email from the ABPN that notifies them about the rescoring results.
Diplomates cannot complete an exam for which they are an author of the article. Diplomates must select another article exam to complete.
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The board strongly recommends that diplomates have access to the article prior to proceeding to open a set of exam questions. Once the exam questions are accessed, diplomates must complete the exam due to the security of the content.
Prior to final submission of the answers, diplomates are prompted with the option to either review the answers or to proceed with submission. If a diplomate wishes to review and/or change answers, the new answers must be saved, or the original answer will be recorded and scored. Once a diplomate proceeds to submit the answers, the answers will be scored.
Yes, if the internet browser times out or a diplomate closes out of the exam, diplomates will be able to return to the last unsaved question. The exam will automatically save any saved responses. If a diplomate continues to have connection issues, it is recommended that they switch to a different device and/or internet connection.
If an answer is changed, it needs to be saved before submitting for the exam results to record the changed response. A test will not be rescored if the changed answer was not saved. The Board will not rescore the exam.
Once a mini-exam is open, a diplomate is committed to completing that mini-exam. Therefore, ABPN strongly recommends diplomates access and read an article prior to opening the mini-exam related to the article.