Application for Initial Certification
- Processing of the Application
- Information Sent to Candidates
- Travel and Hotel Accommodations
- Preparations for the Examination
- Examination Scoring and Candidate Anonymity
- Description of Examinations and Question Formats
- Source of Questions
- Conduct of the Examination
- Retaking the Examination
- ABOMP Application For Certification
- Remote CM Requirements
- CM REMOTE ACCESS EXAM TESTING ENVIRONMENT PREPARATION AND EXAM RULES
Instructions and Information to
Candidates for the Certifying Examination
This information was prepared by the staff of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology in order to provide candidates with a better understanding of the application process and how the examination is conducted. It does not list the prerequisites and requirements necessary to qualify for the examination, the dates for receipt of applications, or the dates and location of the examination. This and related policy information are available in the Board’s Bylaws. In general, however, the final filing dates for receipt of applications and registrations for initial examination applicants, repeat examination participants, or initial examination participants who were previously declared qualified, is May 15. Under extreme or unusual circumstances, applications may be accepted until June 1 although an additional late fee of $250 will be assessed.
Processing of the Application
The processing of an application takes approximately six to eight weeks. The procedure for processing applications includes the following steps:
1. A review of the application is made to determine that all required information is complete, including passport-sized photos, CV, and the $1,000 fee. If the application is not complete, it will be returned to the candidate. An incomplete application will not be processed until a complete application has been received.
2. If the application is complete, a letter will be sent to the candidate acknowledging receipt of the application and examination fee, indicating that the application will be processed.
3. A confidential evaluation form is then sent by the Board to the candidate’s most recent or principal training director after the application is deemed to be complete. In order to prevent any delay in the processing of the application, the candidate is asked to request that the director anticipates its arrival and promptly completes and returns the form.
4. After the reference form has been returned to the Board office, the application is reviewed by the Credentials Committee, which determines if the training requirements have been fulfilled. A candidate may not challenge an examination unless declared eligible by the Credentials Committee.
5. The candidate is notified by letter regarding Board eligibility. For those declared Board eligible, the period of time during which the candidate may challenge the examination is five years, starting with the year in which they are declared eligible. Submission of the initial application constitutes intent to sit for the current examination. If the candidate cancels an appearance for the examination or does not appear for the examination, the entire application/examination fee is forfeited with the following execution: Personal illness at the time of the examination, validated by the candidate's personal physician. In this case, the examination fee will be refunded minus a $100 administrative fee. Other extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis.
6. An application may be approved “pending receipt of issuance of satisfactory completion of the training program”. If you have not yet finished your program when you submit your application, the certificate of completion must be received the year you apply, and prior to sitting for the examination but no later than September 1st.
Special Accommodations Policy
The American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology (ABOMP) will make every effort to provide all appropriate and reasonable accommodation requests in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for individuals with documented disabilities or qualifying medical conditions. All requests are made on an individual basis and are dependent on the nature of the disability and the testing requirements of the examination.
Problems such as English as a second language, test anxiety, slow reading without an identified underlying physical or mental deficit, and failure to achieve a desired outcome are not learning disabilities and generally are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ABOMP candidate must check "Yes" to the disability/special needs question on the application and must submit the required supporting documentation of an evaluation of the candidate. A licensed professional, appropriately qualified for diagnosing the disability, must conduct the evaluation.
The candidate must provide all required documentation to the ABOMP office by the application deadline. The following information must be included in the documentation of the disability in order to be appropriately considered for accommodation for examination:
Documentation of any previous accommodations provided by educational institutions or other testing agencies.
A recent (within the past three years) evaluation from an appropriately licensed professional (physician and/or psychologist). The report must be on professional letterhead and must include, but is not limited to:
1. The professional's qualifications, address, telephone number, and original signature.
2. The candidate's name and date of evaluation(s).
3. The specific diagnostic tests or procedures administered. The diagnostic methods used should be specific to the disability and consistent with current professional standards and protocol.
4. The results of the tests or procedures and a comprehensive interpretation of the results.
5. The specific diagnosis of the disability, with an accompanying description of the candidate's limitation due to the disability.
6. A summary of the completed evaluation with recommendations for the specific accommodations requested and how they will reduce the impact of identified functional limitations and how they pertain to participation in the ABOMP examination.
The following documentation submitted will not be accepted:
Handwritten/emailed letters from licensed professionals.
Handwritten patient records or notes from patient charts.
Diagnoses on prescription pads.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a "service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform a specific task for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must directly relate to the person's disability."
A. Use of a Service Animal
1. Use of a service animal must be associated with a specific disability as defined by the ADA. This includes a service animal trained to detect medical conditions such as an epileptic seizure or adverse diabetic condition. This specifically excludes emotional support animals.
2. No specific documentation of certification relative to the training of the service animal is required to demonstrate the task(s) that are to be performed by the service animal. However, any request for the use of a service animal during the taking of an ABOMP examination must be submitted in writing by the application deadline. The information must include:
a. The disability that requires the use of a service animal.
b. What work or specific task the service animal performs for the examinee.
3. The examinee is responsible for supervising and controlling the behavior of the service animal. An examinee who fails to control the behavior of the service animal during the examination session will have the examination session terminated. No additional examination time will be added to accommodate controlling the service animal.
4. The use/presence of a service animal does not, in and of itself, justify any additional examination time. The nature of the disability and the necessary accommodations for that disability will only be considered with respect to any additional examination time.
B. There are no additional examination fees associated with a service animal accommodation.
All materials arriving at the ABOMP office past the application deadline, regardless of the reason, will not be accepted and will be returned to the candidate. All submissions must be sent to:
The American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
One Urban Centre, Suite 690
4830 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33609
Decision and Outcome:
The Credentials Committee will evaluate the documentation, and decide which accommodations are in compliance with the ADA. The Credentials Committee will determine if special testing circumstances will be approved. If the Credentials Committee deems it necessary, it may require an independent evaluation of the applicant's disability. Only accommodations requested by the application deadline, and approved in advance by the ABOMP, will be honored at the examination site. No accommodation requests will be considered or approved at the examination site. No extensions to an application will be granted because of failure to identify a disability or special need as required in the application materials. ABOMP personnel will acknowledge receipt of each request and notify applicants when their submissions are complete. Those submissions deemed incomplete as of the application deadline will be excluded from consideration.
Decisions on accommodation requests will be made in writing within 30 days after the deadline. If a candidate is dissatisfied with the ABOMP's decision concerning a request for accommodation, he/she may request reconsideration. The candidate must send a letter to the ABOMP stating in specific detail why the initial decision was incorrect and provide all additional documentation the candidate wishes the ABOMP to consider. Any request for consideration must be received no later than 30 days from the date of ABOMP's written decision concerning the request for accommodation. ABOMP may grant or deny the request or seek additional information.
Information Sent to Candidates
If a candidate is declared eligible and has applied to challenge an examination, the following materials will be forwarded approximately six weeks prior to the examination:
1. A schedule of the examination giving dates and times of the various sections of the examination.
2. Information for making hotel reservations at the hotel adjacent to the examination center. Because of time schedules, it is suggested that candidates stay there, unless the candidate lives in that city. Although a discounted rate has been negotiated for our candidates, less expensive rates may be found online.
Travel and Hotel Accommodations
All candidates are responsible for their own travel and hotel accommodation arrangements and all their expenses. The Board will ask the hotel to make an adequate number of rooms available for candidates, but does not make individual arrangements. Candidates are responsible for reporting to the examination site at the time stated on the examination schedule form.
Preparations for the Examination
In preparing for the examination, the candidate should do the following:
1. Become familiar with the formats of the questions used.
2. Nikon Alphaphot 2 microscopes with 10X widefield oculars, 4X, 10X, 40X, 100X oil immersion objectives, mechanical stages, abbe condensers, and built-in light sources are provided in the examination center, but candidates may bring their own if they wish. If so, it is suggested that an extra bulb is included. Ancillary microscopic tools (e.g. polarizing lenses) will not be supplied. Candidates should bring any and all ancillary tools that they believe they may need whether or not they bring their own microscope. The slide holder on the microscope stage is not removable. If the candidate prefers not to use it, it may be moved to the back and far left of the stage. Telephone books are available at the front of the examination center to raise microscopes if needed, and the seats are adjustable with a lever under the right side of the seat.
3. It is very difficult to keep the temperature in the examination center at a level that is satisfactory to all. Frequently, some find it too warm and others too cool. It is strongly suggested that those persons sensitive to cooler temperatures bring a sweater or jacket to the examination center.
4. Suggested study materials:
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
- Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, 4th edition. Neville BW, Damm DD, Allen CM, Bouquot JE. 2015. Elsevier.
- Oral Pathology. A Comprehensive Atlas and Text. Woo SB. 2017. Elsevier.
Head and Neck Pathology
- Atlas of Head and Neck Pathology. Wenig BM. 2016. Elsevier
- Diagnostic Pathology Head & Neck. Thompson LDR, Wenig BM, Muller S, Nelson B. 2016. Elsevier.
- WHO Classification of Head and Neck Tumors. El-Naggar AK, Chan JKC, Grandis JR, Takata T, Slootweg PJ. 2017. IARC.
- Diagnostic Surgical Pathology of the Head and Neck. Gnepp DR. Saunders
- Dorfman and Czerniak’s Bone Tumors. 2016. Saunders.
Soft Tissue Tumors
- Diagnostic Pathology Soft Tissue Tumors. Lindberg MR. 2016. Elsevier.
- McKee’s Pathology of the Skin with Clinical Correlations. Calonje E, Brenn T, Lazar AJ, Billings SD. 2020 Volumes 1 and 2. Elsevier.
- Weedon’s Skin Pathology. Patterson JW. 2016. Churchill Livingston.
- Dermatopathology. Elston DM, Ferringer T. 2019. Elsevier.
Reactive and Neoplastic Lymphoid Tissues
- Diagnostic Pathology Lymph Nodes and Extranodal Lymphomas. Madeiros LJ, Miranda RN. 2018. Elsevier.
- Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC. 2015. Elsevier.
- Robbins Basic Pathology. Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC. 2013. Elsevier.
- Histology for Pathologists. Mills SE. 2020. Wolters Kluwer.
- Diagnostic Imaging Oral and Maxillofacial. Koenig LJ, Tamimi D, Petrikowski CG, Perschbacher SE, Ruprecht A, Hatcher D, Potter BJ, Benson BW, Harnsberger HC. 2017. Elsevier.
- Diagnostic Imaging Head and Neck. Koch BL, Hamilton BE, Hudgins PA, Harnsberger HR. 2017. Elsevier.
- Diagnostic Immunohistochemistry. Theranostic and Genomic Applications. Dabbs DJ. 2018. Elsevier.
- Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology
- Head and Neck Pathology
Examination Scoring and Candidate Anonymity
The candidate will receive a coded candidate number at the beginning of the examination that will be used to identify each candidate on all four parts of the examination. The Directors will not “break” the code that identifies the individual until after scoring of the examination is complete. The candidate should help ensure their anonymity during the examination by keeping any reference to their candidate number concealed.
Description of Examinations and Question Formats
Microscope set up: On the first examination day, candidates who elect not to use one of the microscopes provided should go to the examination site 15 minutes prior to the scheduled examination starting time and set up their microscope at their assigned station. After confirming the microscope is in good working order, the candidate may leave the room, but should remain nearby until the scheduled start time.
The surgical pathology portion of the examination is administered in two parts, with a time limit of four hours for each part. Each part may include one or two cytologic preparations. The oral and maxillofacial pathology cases will cover all categories of disease and a microscopic diagnosis is expected for each case. On the first day, the Surgical-I examination consists of 35 oral and maxillofacial pathology microscopic cases. On the second day, the Surgical-II examination consists of 25 additional oral and maxillofacial pathology microscopic cases as well as 10 general pathology microscopic cases. They are not mixed together. The 10 general pathology questions stay together at the end of the exam as questions 26 - 35. If the number of candidates necessitates the sharing of slide boxes, there will be 5 general pathology questions at the end of each box of the Surgical-II examination.
Depending on the number of candidates who sit for the examination, it may be necessary to split the microscopic slides between two boxes that candidates will share. Half of the room will begin with box "A", and half with box "B". Once finished with a box, candidates will come to the front of the room and exchange it for their second box. All candidates must have their second box by the 2-hour mark, so that all candidates have equal time with both boxes. Candidates may not return to their initial box once exchanged for their second box. Time will be announced approximately half an hour before slide boxes must be switched. There is a countdown clock on the upper right-hand corner of the computer screen to keep track of time.
The surgical pathology question number will match the slide (case) number. The candidate will record the most likely and specific diagnosis possible in a free text box. The computer will not auto correct spelling. The diagnosis line must be filled in for each case. If a diagnosis box is left blank, in addition to being marked incorrect, the question will be assessed the penalty of a critical error of additional lost points. If the slide shows an ameloblastoma, listing the diagnosis of "ameloblastoma" is sufficient and appropriate. Do not use acronyms or abbreviations in your answers, spell everything out. For example, if the slide shows a "squamous odontogenic tumor", do not simply write "SOT". The use of acronyms may result in partial credit only. If the diagnosis is uncertain, a comment may be added to describe limiting factors or the microscopic differential diagnosis. If special stains or other procedures could help establish a more definitive diagnosis, these may be included in the comment section along with alternative diagnostic considerations. A rationale should be provided for the listed stains. For example:
Diagnosis: malignant spindle cell neoplasm suggestive of spindle cell carcinoma.
Comment: Although the clinical and histologic features are most suggestive of spindle cell carcinoma, the differential diagnosis includes melanoma and leiomyosarcoma. Immunohistochemical stains for cytokeratin, S100 protein, HMB-45, smooth muscle actin, and desmin could support this interpretation while excluding other entities.
If the diagnosis is straightforward, leave the comment section blank. Everything entered will be assessed as part of the scoring process. Inappropriate or inaccurate comments can negatively impact the score for that case. Critical errors, which are diagnosing a benign lesion as malignant or a malignant lesion as benign, are assessed an additional penalty of lost points.
For each of the general pathology cases, the candidate will list the specific organ or tissue and provide the microscopic diagnosis of any pathologic process(es) present. Critical errors are not assessed in this portion of the examination.
The written examination consists of 200 multiple-choice questions viewed on a computer monitor, and has a time limit of three hours. There are 50 general pathology questions on the written exam. All 200 questions are mixed together. It includes theoretic, interpretive, and statistical aspects of pathology. Certain questions test the candidate’s recognition of the similarity or dissimilarity of pathologic processes. Other questions evaluate the candidate’s judgment as to cause and effect, the lack of causal relationships, or the clinical implications. The candidate controls the amount of time spent on each question and may return to previously viewed questions at any time.
Directions: Each of the following questions or incomplete statements is followed by three to five suggested answers. Select the one answer that is best in each case. If you want to change your answer, you may do so by clicking a different radio button.
What are the oral manifestations of Peutz-Jeghers syndrome?
A) multiple papillomas.
B) gingival hyperplasia.
C) sebaceous glands in the oral mucosa.
D) silver pigmentation of the oral mucosa.
E) multiple pigmented macules.
The candidate will click on the radio button in front of "E" to select the correct answer. There is no penalty for incorrect answers so it is in the candidate's best interest to answer all questions.
The clinical examination is a single examination and consists of 50 cases. The examination has a time limit of 2 1/2 hours. For each case, one to six images will appear on the candidate’s computer monitor, together with a brief clinical history and/or a question. All answers are fill-in-the-blank format, requiring either a single diagnosis or a brief differential diagnosis. The candidate will record the most likely and specific diagnosis possible in a free text box. The computer will not auto correct spelling. The candidate may view each case for as long as he/she desires and can return to previously viewed cases. Images may be enlarged by clicking on them and then clicking the "close" tab to return to the question screen. This section focuses on the clinical aspects of disease but may include correlation with immunofluorescence or other clinical laboratory studies.
This type of question is used on the clinical examination and will ask for a single diagnosis or several differential diagnoses. For example; a clinical photo of a lobular midline mass of the palate appears along with a radiograph showing dense bone. The question may read:
What is the most likely diagnosis for this 2 cm palatal mass?
List three differential diagnoses for this 2 cm palatal mass.
The candidate should only list as many differential diagnoses as requested, not more or less, and they should be listed in the order of probability. Providing more that the requested number of responses only increases the risk, as any incorrect answer may be counted against the candidate. For example, if four answers are provided for a question that requests only three responses and one of the four answers provided is incorrect, points may be deducted for the wrong answer even though three correct answers were provided as requested.
Source of Questions
All ABOMP Directors submit questions to the Board. Only questions evaluated by the Test Construction Committee and found to be appropriate and unambiguous are accepted as valid test questions. A grid/matrix is used to ensure that all aspects of oral and maxillofacial pathology are tested, and no single subject receives undue emphasis.
2 ½ hours
2, 4-hour exams of
70 questions total
Oral & Maxillofacial Lesions/Conditions (inflammatory and immunologic disorders, microbial diseases, mucosal lesions, salivary gland disorders, soft tissue tumors, bone lesions, hematologic/lymphoid disorders, odontogenic cysts and tumors, facial pain, etc.)
Developmental Disorders, Dental Abnormalities, Syndromes
Other Head and Neck Lesions
General Pathology (including normal structure & function)
Head & Neck Anatomy/Development
Misc.: Forensics, Laboratory Techniques, Molecular Genetics, History, Cytology, Imaging, Nonsurgical Therapeutics
100% (200 Qs)
100% (50 Qs)
100% (70 Qs)
Conduct of the Examination
1. Assigned seats and name cards: In the examination center, candidates should sit at their assigned seat. The name card at their seat should not be removed. Times listed on the schedule are the actual starting times of the examination. The candidate is expected to be at his/her seat and ready to take the examination at the designated time. Candidates will not be given additional time if they are late for an examination. Their computer will be logged on for them and the time clock will start if they are not seated when an examination begins.
2. Personal items in the examination room: The only personal items permitted in the examination room are jackets or sweaters, eyeglasses, and microscopes. Specifically excluded are all calculators (a calculator is available on the computer), watches, personal organizers, books, notes, and any other papers. Pagers, cell phones, and other communication devices are not allowed in the examination center.
3. Examination scratch paper: Each candidate will be given an examination scratch paper that they may keep for the duration of the examination. Examination scratch paper may be used for calculations, etc. and must be returned intact at the completion of the examination.
4. Computer usage: Before the start of the examinations there will be a practice test so that candidates can become familiar with the computer testing process. The items contained in the practice test will not be scored. All questions will be displayed on the computer screen; candidates will enter their answers by selecting one of the radio buttons. Computer skills are not needed to take this examination.
5. Microscopic slides: For the surgical pathology examinations, the number of the question will correspond with the number of the appropriate slide. Thus, slide #25 will correspond with question #25 on the computer examination. The slides should be kept in their original order.
6. Examination conclusion: Answers for all four sections of the examinations will be submitted on the computer. There is a countdown clock on the upper right of the computer screen to keep track of time. If a candidate finishes before the allotted time for the examination, they are free to leave once they have "quit" the examination. A pop-up box will give the candidate warning when there are 15, 5, and 1 minute remaining before the computer will end the examination session.
7. Queries during examinations: In spite of the great care exercised in the proofreading of examinations, typographical errors may occasionally occur. In practically all instances, these are simple spelling or typing errors and the meaning is readily apparent. Out of fairness to all candidates taking the examination, examiners and proctors are instructed not to answer individual questions, make judgments, or interpret a possible error. Candidates should exercise their own judgment. Nonetheless, if a candidate feels that an error exists, the candidate should bring the concern to the attention of a Proctor during or immediately following that section of the examination. The Board reviews the examination prior to scoring. If the Board determines that an error is critical to correctly answering a question, that question will be eliminated from the final scoring of the examination.
8. Smoking and beverages: Food (including candy and gum) and drinks are not permitted at workstations. However, drinks, candy, and medications may be stored in the storage area, and access to this area is available with proctor notification. A water fountain will be available just outside the room. Smoking is not permitted in the building.
9. Restroom breaks: The restrooms are located on either side of the elevator lobby. Only one male and one female candidate at a time are permitted to leave the examination center for a brief restroom break. The candidate should check in with the proctor before leaving the room. Nothing in the storage area, including cell phones or any other electronic device, may be taken to the restroom. Candidates may not leave the examination center except to use the restroom. Candidates may not leave the examination floor until that section of the examination is completed. While away from their workstation, the examination scratch paper should be turned over.
10. Communication between candidates: Communication between candidates during an examination is absolutely prohibited.
11. Sounds, scents, and civility: In consideration of other candidates, please avoid wearing strong fragrances, making unnecessary noise, and other actions that may be disruptive to others. Earplugs are available at the front of the examination center.
12. Mothers Room/Lactation Room: For moms who are breastfeeding, the ABOMP has a designated room that you may use during breaks. A small refrigerator is available. Please notify the proctor when registering in the examination center.
The examination will be supervised by Board Directors to ensure that the examination is properly conducted in accordance with the rules of the Board. Candidates are expected to maintain professional conduct during the examination. Any conduct that is considered inappropriate will be documented by the proctors and reviewed by the Directors to determine appropriate action. Inappropriate behavior includes cheating, suspicion of cheating, aggressive behavior towards proctors or other candidates, disregarding examination rules, and any other behavior determined to be detrimental to the administration of the examination.
In the interest of protecting the integrity of the ABOMP and its certification examinations, the following irregular behaviors may be sufficient to bar a person from future examinations, to terminate one’s participation in the examination, to invalidate the results of one’s examination, to cause the withholding or revocation of one’s scores or certificate, or to merit other appropriate action by the Board.
1. The giving or receiving of aid in the examination as evidenced by observation.
2. The unauthorized possession, reproduction, or disclosure of any ABOMP examination-related materials, including, but not limited to, examination questions or answers, before, during, or after the examination.
3. The offering of any benefit to any agent of the Board in return for any right, privilege, or benefit which is not usually granted by the Board to other similarly situated candidates or persons.
In addition, the Board may withhold a candidate’s scores and require that the candidate retake the examination if presented with sufficient evidence that the security of the examination has been compromised, notwithstanding the absence of any evidence of the candidate’s personal involvement in such activities.
Retaking the Examination
The fee to retake the examination is $1,000. The fee and Examination Registration Form must be postmarked by May 15. Under extreme or unusual circumstances, applications may be accepted until June 1 although an additional late fee of $250 will be assessed.
ABOMP Application for Certification
Download our Application form. Only the form itself needs to be sent back to the ABOMP office; not these first eight informational pages.