Written Exam


The following training requirements must be completed before a candidate may sit for the Written Exam for subspecialty certification in Critical Care Medicine:

  • Have completed one of these three AOA-recognized training pathways by Aug. 15 of the year you intend to sit for the Written Exam:
    • AOA internal medicine certification plus two years of AOA-recognized training in Critical Care Medicine.
    • Internal medicine certification plus five years of training in a combined Emergency Medicine/Internal Medicine residency program and one year of fellowship training in Critical Care Medicine.
    • AOA internal medicine certification plus one of the following:
      • Three years of subspecialty training in cardiology or two years of subspecialty training in pulmonary diseases, nephrology or infectious disease, followed by one year of training in critical care medicine, or;
      • Three years of combined training in infectious disease/critical care medicine, nephrology/critical care medicine or pulmonary diseases/ critical care medicine. At least 12 months of the 36 months of training must include a full-time commitment in an intensive care unit.
    • Adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.


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

  • A completed application.
  • Required fees.
  • Proof of an active medical license.
  • Initial applicants and applicants who have not completed their training must submit a Program Director report by July 18 verifying clinical competence and the completion date of an AOA-recognized fellowship training program.
  • If you completed your training in an ACGME fellowship program, submit a letter from the AOA stating that the ACGME residency training has been AOA-recognized.

Exam Fees

An exam fee of $800 must be submitted with your completed application. No application will be considered complete until all fees have been paid. Exam applications submitted after June 16 will incur a $240 non-refundable late fee. No applications will be accepted after July 16. All cancellations must be made in writing. No exam fees are refunded unless the candidate withdraws from the examination process, which will result in a loss of board eligibility. Refunds will be administered as follows:

  • On or before July 16: 50% refund
  • After July 16: No refund

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Critical Care Medicine Written Exam is offered in August. The application period opens Feb. 16, 2024, and closes end of day July 16, 2024.

Exam Content Outline

The Critical Care Written Exam tests the knowledge and understanding of basic science and clinical knowledge, skills and principles critical to the practice of Critical Care. The five-hour exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions in the following areas:

Subspecialty Certification
  1. 1. Acute cardiovascular disorders
  2. 2. Heart failure/Pulmonary edema
  3. 3. Hypertensive crisis
  4. 4. Shock
  5. 5. CPR/Hemodynamic parameters
  6. 6. Acute pulmonary disorders
  7. 7. Ventilatory management
  8. 8. Renal/Electrolyte/acid-base
  9. 9. Acute gastrointestinal disorders
  10. 10. Nutrition
  11. 11. Infectious disease/sepsis
  12. 12. Endocrine emergencies
  13. 13. Acute neurologic disorders
  14. 14. Trauma management
  15. 15. Psychiatric emergencies
  16. 16. Acute hematologic disorders/ Anticoagulation
  17. 17. Acute neoplastic disorders
  18. 18. Complications of pregnancy
  19. 19. Temperature disorders
  20. 20. Perioperative/Anesthetic complications
  21. 21. Anaphylaxis/Allergic disorders
  22. 22. Ethics/Psychosocial issues
  23. 23. Administrative Management in ICU
  • 8-12%
  • 4-8%
  • 1-4%
  • 4-8%
  • 2-6%
  • 8-12%
  • 5-9%
  • 5-9%
  • 3-7%
  • 1-5%
  • 5-9%
  • 2-6%
  • 3-7%
  • 1-4%
  • 1-4%
  • 1-4%
  • 1-4%
  • 1-3%
  • 1-4%
  • 1-4%
  • 1-5%
  • 1-4%
  • 1-4%

Exam Scoring

Scoring Criteria

AOA reports candidates’ certification results using standardized scaled scores. Scaled scores are more valid and reliable compared to raw scores and make scores comparable across different forms of the exam. The AOA reports scores on a 200 to 800-point scale with a scaled score of 500 or higher required to pass.

  • A scaled score of 500 represents the minimum level of knowledge and skill necessary to pass the exam as established by AOA Certifying Boards.
  • The highest possible scaled score is 800.
  • The lowest possible scaled score is 200.
  • Overall scores are based on the total number of items answered correctly, regardless of content area.

Results by Content Area

  • When possible, a breakdown of exam scores by content area is provided to help you identify your areas of strength and areas that may need more development.
  • The number of items for each content area indicates the relative amount of test questions on the exam for that content area.
  • Content area scores are not weighted to calculate your overall score; each content area is scored separately after the overall analysis is complete.