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 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 1 will incur a non-refundable $200 late fee. No applications will be accepted after July 1. 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. Otherwise, candidates’ fees are credited toward the next year’s examination, less the applicable cancellation fee, and will remain board eligible until June 1 of the following year. Cancellation fees are as follows:

  • Before June 1: $100 cancellation fee
  • Between June 1 and July 1: $400 cancellation fee
  • After July 1: $800 cancellation fee

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Critical Care Medicine Written Exam is offered in August. The application period opens in December of the previous year.

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. Anaphylaxsis/Allergic disorders
  22. 22. Ethics/Psychosocial issues
  23. 23. Administrative Management in ICU
  24. 24. Miscellaneous
  • 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%
  • 2-6%

Exam Scoring

The AOBIM 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. Results will be released electronically through the AOBIM’s application portal. Candidates must be program complete and maintain AOA membership in order to access electronic results.