Rules of Conduct of Examination

RULES FOR THE CONDUCT OF EXAMINATIONS

Written Qualifying Examination

The written qualifying examination may be taken following completion of the required number of years of residency training and upon compliance with the requirements for certification. Questions on the examination shall be multiple-choice, based on factual information relating to the science of the particular surgical specialty. The examination shall be designed to evaluate academic knowledge.

On the day of examination, the candidate must register and show picture identification. The candidate will receive an envelope containing an ID number badge, a file update form, and any other applicable information and instructions. The candidate must place only this number on the examination score sheets and test booklet cover. The file update form is to be filled out and returned to the examination staff at the registration desk. No cell phones, PDAs or other electronic devices are permitted in the examination room(s). No handbags, brief cases, backpacks, etc. are permitted in the examination room(s).

In accordance with the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists Standards Review Committee, the written qualifying examination process is reviewed by a psychometrician who finds the examination process to be psychometrically sound and defensible, and who follows the rules of practice established in the APA/AERA National Standards for Education and Psychological Testing. Pass and fail decisions are based solely on the content mastery displayed by the candidate.

Oral Certifying Examination

For the oral certifying examination, examiners will provide candidates with patient cases. Cases include presenting problems and statements made by the patient, as well as laboratory reports and radiographic studies appropriate to the etiology of the condition. Candidates participate in the examination by offering initial/suspected possible diagnoses, interpretation of labs and imaging studies, differential diagnosis, proposed treatment options, case management and possible troubleshooting. The examination shall be designed to evaluate judgmental processes and ability to solve clinical problems.

On the day of examination, the candidate must register and show picture identification. The candidate will receive an envelope containing an ID number badge, a file update form, and any other applicable information and instructions. The file update form is to be filled out and returned to the examination staff.

Candidates are expected to conduct themselves according to the honor system, respecting the integrity of the examination and protecting their fellow examinees.  Under no circumstances should the candidate speak to other candidates about the examination questions or examination process. Failure to comply will result in invalidation of the examination, and the candidate will be called to appear before the Board.  Failure to appear will prevent continuation of the candidate’s examination process and constitutes a failure as well as an ethical violation, which will be stated on the candidate’s official Board file and reported to the AOA. No cell phones, PDAs or other electronic devices are permitted in the examination room(s). No handbags, brief cases, backpacks, etc. are permitted in the examination room(s).

In accordance with the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists Standards Review Committee, the oral certifying examination process is reviewed by a psychometrician who finds the examination process to be psychometrically sound and defensible, and who follows the rules of practice established in the APA/AERA National Standards for Education and Psychological Testing. Pass and fail decisions are based solely on the content mastery displayed by the candidate.

EXAMINATION GRADES

All examination records shall be submitted by the chairman of the Examination Committee to the Board, and the entire Board shall confirm the final grade of each portion of the examination.

The Board sets passing standards for the written qualifying and oral certifying examinations using an acceptable measurement model known as “criterion-referenced standard setting.” Using this model, the Board specifies the particular content and level of content difficulty necessary to be considered a passing candidate. Board members, who are themselves all certified, come from both practice and academic settings. The standard represents the minimal knowledge specified to be considered a successful and excellent surgeon.

All examination results are reviewed and approved by the entire Board. Candidates will be notified no later than 60 days following the Board’s decision. Candidates failing any part of the examination process will subsequently receive a deficiency report.

A passing grade in each portion of the examination must be received for a candidate to be recommended for certification in their surgery specialty under the jurisdiction of the Board. After a candidate has met all requirements and successfully passed the examinations, the Board makes a recommendation to the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists for certification. The AOA will inform the candidate in writing of his/her certification and certificate number. The Board is notified at the same time, at which time the Board will order the certificate to be printed.

FAILURE OF AN EXAMINATION WITHIN THE CERTIFICATION ELIGIBILITY TIME FRAME

Written Qualifying and/or Oral Certifying Examinations

Following an initial or second failure in the written qualifying and/or oral certifying examination, the candidate may apply for reexamination and shall be required to pay an examination fee as determined by the Board. Candidates for reexamination shall be required to take the examination within a two (2) year period following the initial or second failure. If the candidate fails to take the examination within this period, the candidate’s file shall be considered inactive. Any further application shall be considered as a new application at the discretion of the Board.

Following a third failure in the written qualifying and/or oral certifying examination, the candidate may apply for reexamination upon successful completion of remediation. Remediation does not guarantee passage of the examination process.

APPEAL MECHANISM

If the candidate believes that the action of the Board constitutes unequal application of regulations and requirements or standards, unwarranted discrimination, prejudice, unfairness or improper conduct of all or any part of an examination conducted by the Board, the candidate has the right to appeal to the Appeal Committee of the Board.

Appeal policy for examinations in Cardiothoracic Surgery, General Surgery, General Vascular Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Neurological Surgery, Urological Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care:

1. Scope of Appeal

a. Appealable Issues: Candidates may appeal to the Board to raise concerns relative to the examination’s administration (i.e., alleged bias/prejudice of a member of an examination team or failure to follow established examination procedures).

b. Non-Appealable Issues: The Board will not consider appeals based on examination content, sufficiency or accuracy of answers given to examination questions, scoring of the examination, scoring of answers to individual questions, and/or the determination of the minimum passing score.

 2. Procedure for Appeal

a. Appeal Request Form: In order to appeal concerning the examination, a candidate must set forth the basis for the appeal on an appeal request form and submit the form to a member of the examination team. Appeal request forms will be provided to all certification candidates prior to the commencement of the examination. Additional copies of the appeal request form will be available upon request to the examination team. The appellant must submit the completed appeal request form to the examination team within two (2) hours of completion of the examination.

b. Late Appeals: All appeals submitted after the two-hour deadline for submission of the appeal request form will be denied.

c. Evaluation of Appeal: Each appeal submitted on an appeal request form within two hours of completion of the examination will be considered by the Boards Appeal Committee. A majority vote of the Committee will determine whether the Board accepts or denies the appeal.

d. Notification of Candidates: Candidates will be advised by the AOBS of the Appeal Committee’s decision by certified mail.

 3. Effect of Decision

a. Decision to Accept Appeal

 i.     No scoring or recording of examination: If the Appeal Committee accepts an appeal, then the candidate’s examination will not be scored or recorded.

ii.     Right to retake examination: A candidate whose appeal is accepted shall have the right to a new examination at the next scheduled examination date at no additional application or examination fee. All other fees incurred are the responsibility of the candidate. At that time, the examination will be conducted by a different examination team. The candidate’s original log may be utilized to retake the clinical examination. Retake examinations will be conducted in accordance with the format of the current examination.

iii.    Failure to retake the examination: If, for any reason, the candidate elects NOT to retake the examination on the next scheduled date, the appeal shall be considered null and void, and the candidate will be required to reapply for the certification examination. The application shall be considered in accordance with the criteria in effect at the time of the new application. Exceptions for good cause to this stipulation will be considered on an individual basis by the Executive Committee.

iv.    Further Appeals: (a) Current examination: The candidate whose appeal is accepted shall NOT have the right to alter the original appeal of the current examination results, either within the Board or to the AOA, and (b) Subsequent examination: The candidate whose appeal is accepted shall NOT have the right to appeal the next scheduled examination to the Board under this policy. However, the candidate shall have the right to appeal to the AOA.

b. Decision to Deny Appeal: If an appeal is denied by the Board’s Appeals Committee, the candidate shall retain the right to appeal to the AOA. Candidates interested in appealing to the AOA should contact the American Osteopathic Association, Department of Education, Division of Certification, 142 East Ontario Street, Chicago, IL 60611.

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