Whether it’s your first time taking the exam or it’s been 10 years since you last certified, you may be feeling some anxiety about what to expect the day of the exam. Here’s everything you can expect on the day of your exam and how to go into it feeling confident and prepared.
What You Need to Bring
On the day of the exam, you’ll need to show two forms of identification: a photo ID and signature are required. The second form of ID can be a Social Security Card, valid credit card, or ATM card. The name on your ID must match the name that the ABIM has on record for you.
ProTip: Make sure that your driver’s license, passport, or state ID card is not expired!
ProTip #2: Get both forms of ID out and ready to go BEFORE the morning of the exam! Prep anything else you want to take with you ahead of time and have them ready to go and by the door so you can head out quickly and worry-free.
You Can Bring These With You into the Testing Room
You do get a locker to store anything that you may have brought that isn’t allowed in the testing room. So, of course, you get to bring the key to your locker in with you.
Here’s what you do get to have in the testing room:
- An erasable notepad, which will be provided by the test administrator (Note: You also will be able to type and save notes in a pop-up box that accompanies each exam question)
- If you want headphones or earplugs, ask the test administrator.
- Of course, if you have a medical need, you can request ahead of time to bring any equipment/personal items into the exam room with you. Most essential medical and personal items are allowed without prior approval, like an insulin pump, hearing aids, diabetic supplies, asthma inhalers, canes, cough drops, or crutches. Note: For other medical and personal items you will need to get approval ahead of time.
ProTip: Put mnemonics, tricks, notes — anything you want — on your notepad, as soon as you walk into the room!
What You Definitely Can't Bring
Make sure that on the day of the exam you dress for comfort! You will not be allowed to wear a jacket or a coat, so we recommend that you wear layers or a comfy sweater. Here’s a list of other things that you won’t be allowed to have in the testing room:
- Wallets/Purses (lockers are provided)
- Cell phones, calculators, PDAs, pagers, beepers, cameras, recording devices
- Calipers, nomograms
- Pens, highlighters, or other writing instruments
- Study materials, including notes and scratch paper
- Briefcases, backpacks, suitcases
- Tobacco products
- Food or drinks (including coffee/sodas)
- Your own earplugs, headphones, or other personal devices
- Bluetooth or remote-control
When You Need an Accommodation
If you have a disability and need to request accommodations for your exam, you must submit a “comfort aid form” and get it approved by the ABIM prior to scheduling your exam and before the registration deadline.
Some common test-taking accommodations that can be requested from the ABIM are:
- Modified testing time
- Large-font exam materials
- Left-hand mouse set-up
- Permission to have and use medical supplies
- Accommodations for nursing mothers
What the Exam Schedule is Like
Be prepared for 4 2-hour testing sessions with a maximum of 240 multiple-choice questions. There are 100 minutes of break time divided into 3 break sessions—these are optional, but we recommend using them to stretch your legs in between testing sessions!
With the breaks included, the test can take 10 (or so) hours.
Note: The exam day schedule is the same for both the initial certification and the MOC exams.
You can expect a maximum of 60 questions for the 2-hour sessions, which gives you 2 minutes for each question.
ProTip: Use the “exam mode” feature on our Internal Medicine Board-Style Q&A Premium to get a good feel for what your exam day will be like.
What You Should Know About the Testing Computer
The time you have remaining on your exam will be in the upper right-hand corner of the computer. When there are 5 minutes left, you’ll get a notification on your computer. The time of day won’t be on your computer, but it will be on a clock on the wall in the room.
If you request to leave the room during your exam, the exam time will continue to count down and your computer will be set to an “unscheduled break” mode. There will be an electronic fingerprint or palm scan each and every time you enter and exit the room.
After two hours, the testing time is over, and your computer screen will turn grey.
Need more info about what to expect on the day of your exam? Check out ABIM.org