Written Exam


The following training requirements must be completed before a candidate may sit for the Written (Part I) Exam for primary certification in Emergency Medicine:

  • Have completed an AOA-accredited/ACGME emergency medicine residency program, or be in the final year of residency training.
  • Continue the practice of emergency medicine, or continue completing the final year of emergency medicine residency, while completing the certification exam process.
  • Adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.
  • Demonstrate eligibility for examination in any other manner required by the board.


Once training requirements for eligibility are met, candidates must submit the following:

  • A completed application.
  • Required fees.
  • A copy of active licensure for any states in which you hold a medical license.
  • Senior residents are required to download and sign the resident waiver after they apply to take the exam, in addition to providing a good-standing letter from their residency program director.
  • Applicants who’ve completed their residenty training must provide a letter of verification for time worked in Emergency Medicine. This must be on official stationery and signed.

Exam Fees

An exam fee of $1,100 must be submitted with your completed application. No application will be considered complete until all fees have been paid. The application deadline will be set 15 days before the exam administration.

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Emergency Medicine Written (Part I) Exam is offered in the spring and fall at testing sites around the country. The application period opens 5 months prior to the exam administration date. After applying, candidates will receive further instructions on registering if approved within 1-2 weeks after the application deadline.

Exam Content Outline

The Emergency Medicine Written Exam tests the knowledge and understanding of basic science and clinical knowledge, skills and principles critical to the practice of Emergency Medicine. The exam is in a multiple choice format, with most questions directing diplomates to choose the one best answer among five possible answers. The test has a four-hour morning session and a two-hour afternoon session. There is one optional, 10-minute break between sections 2 and 3; one optional, 40-minute lunch break after section 4.

• During 10-minute break: Candidate may not access electronics or study materials. Candidate may access locker for food, drink, and medicine only. Candidate may not leave center except to use restroom if located outside the site.

• During 40-minute break: Candidate may leave center and access electronics and study materials.

Exam topics include:

Primary Certification
  1. 1. Abdominal and gatrointestinal disorders
  2. 2. Cardiovascular disorders
  3. 3. Cutaneous disorders
  4. 4. Endocrine, metabolic and nutritional disorders
  5. 5. Environmental disorders
  6. 6. Head, ear, eye, nose and throat disorders
  7. 7. Hematologic and immune system disorders
  8. 8. Systemic infectious disorders
  9. 9. Musculoskeletal disorders (nontraumatic)
  10. 10. Nervous system disorders
  11. 11. Obstetrics and gynecology disorders
  12. 12. Psychobehavioral disorders
  13. 13. Renal and urogenital disorders
  14. 14. Thoracic respiratory disorders
  15. 15. Toxicological disorders/Clinical pharmacy
  16. 16. Traumatic disorders and disaster medicine
  17. 17. Administrative aspects of emergency medicine/EMS
  18. 18. Procedures/skills
    • 7-9%
    • 8-10%
    • 2-4%
    • 4-6%
    • 2-4%
    • 4-6%
    • 3-5%
    • 5-7%
    • 4-6%
    • 4-6%
    • 1-4%
    • 3-5%
    • 4-6%
    • 7-9%
    • 2-4%
    • 10-12%
    • 2-4%
    • 7-9%

Exam Scoring

The AOBEM sets passing standards for the Written Exam using a 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. All examination results will be reviewed by the board. Candidates are informed of results by email within 8 weeks. Candidates who do not pass the exam will receive notification via regular mail as well as email. The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) has analyzed pass rates for the Emergency Medicine Written (Part I) exam between 2011 and 2016. View the analysis.

Exam Failure

Candidates who do not pass any certifying examination may apply for reexamination.