Component 3: Cognitive Assessment


To complete Component 3 requirements for Osteopathic Continuous Certification in the subspecialty of Dermatopathology, a physician must pass a written examination once per 10-year OCC cycle.

OCC is not required for physicians who hold non-time-limited (non-dated, non-expiring) certifications, although they may elect to participate voluntarily.

Exam Process

The OCC exam for subspecialty certification in Dermatopathology is administered once per year. Candidates are permitted to take the examination three years prior to the expiration date of their board certification. For example, candidates with certifications expiring in 2021 may take the examination in 2018. If they pass, the new expiration date would still be 2031.

Dermatopathology OCC Exam

The Dermatopathology OCC exam consists of three sections:

Part 1: Written Exam
Multiple choice questions covering representative topics.

Part 2: Clinical Images
Clinical dermatology with pathological correlation, electron microscopy, mycology, entomology, etc.

Part 3: Digital images of glass slides
Candidates will examine sets of representative slides or digital images of glass slides and answer a series of multiple choice questions. Slides will be viewed using ImageScope, an Aperio program that serves as a “virtual microscope,” allowing examiners to slide and rotate images with a scanning power up to 40X. It is highly recommended that candidates download the free Aperio ImageScope to become familiar with manipulating digital slides prior to the exam. Alternatively, candidates may sign in as a guest on Aperio’s slidehosting site to browse slides. More information can be found in the Orientation to Using Virtual (Digital) Slides for Certification Exams.

The syllabus for the examination is developed from the books Weedon’s Skin Pathology and McKee’s Pathology of the Skin. This information can be used to focus study efforts but does not guarantee that all examination questions will be taken from these references.

Applications & Payment

The following must be supplied at time of application for the OCC Dermatopathology exam:

  • Copy of AOBD or AOBP board certificate.
  • Copy of board certification in Dermatopathology.
  • Copy of current state medical license.
  • Copy of current CLIA Laboratory certificate.
  • If applicant’s practice is restricted to Pathology/Dermatopathology, proof of laboratory accreditation from the AOA Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP), College of American Pathologists, JCAHO or equivalent accrediting agency.
  • Letter describing the nature of candidate’s Dermatopathology training.
  • Evidence of having performed at least 500 Dermatopathology cases in the 12-month period prior to submission of application.
  • Proof of completion of a minimum of 60 hours of accredited CME in Dermatology or Pathology in the three years prior to certification. Fifteen of those hours must be completed in Category 1-A CME.
  • 20 glass slides with reports for the Clinical Assessment Program (CAP). Slides will be reviewed for accuracy and conformity with standard of care.
  • $1,800 non-refundable fee.

Applications must be complete by Aug. 1 of the year of the exam.

OCC Certification
EXAM Type Fee
OCC Registration (once every three-year cycle) $300
OCC Cognitive Assessment Exam Fee $1,800
OCC Cognitive Assessment Re-examination Fee $1,800
OCC Late Registration Fee $150/year

Exam Results

For physicians holding time-dated certification, failure to successfully complete the OCC process will result in the loss of certification when their current certification expires. Passing candidates will receive exam results in writing within 60-90 day of taking their exam. Exam results will be communicated through via letters following the exam. Exam results are reviewed by the committee before being released.

Exam Failure

AOA reports certification results using standardized scores. Examination results are reported on a scale of 200 to 800 and an overall scaled score of 500 or greater is required to pass. The passing standard is determined by subject matter expert osteopathic physicians who practice in the field of the specialty. The passing standard is approved by the respective board.

Content area scores are provided as informative feedback when possible. No minimal requirement is set for performance outcomes for the content area scores. Content area scores are not used to compute your total test score or to determine your performance outcome.

For physicians holding time-dated certification, failure to successfully complete the OCC process will result in the loss of certification when their current certification expires.

Compliance With Federal Regulations

The conjoint examination committee supports the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for candidates who meet ADA eligibility. The board will make a reasonable effort to provide qualified board candidates who have documented disabilities the necessary auxiliary aids and services that do not fundamentally alter the measurement of the skills or knowledge the board assessment process is intended to test or result in an undue burden.

The Board supports the intent of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for all patients or patient records that may be used as part of any part of the board certification process.