Written Exam


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

  • Complete two years of training in an AOA-recognized fellowship program in Rheumatology. You must have completed the training by Aug. 15 of the year you intend to sit for the Written Exam.
  • 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 fellowship 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 Rheumatology Written Exam is offered in August. The application period opens the previous year, starting in December.

Exam Content Outline

The Rheumatology Written Exam tests the knowledge and understanding of basic science and clinical knowledge, skills and principles critical to the practice of Rheumatology. The seven-hour exam consists of 300 multiple choice questions in the following areas:

Subspecialty Certification
  1. 1. Basic principles/immunology/cell biology
  2. 2. Physical diagnosis rheumatologic disorders
  3. 3. Rheumatoid arthritis
  4. 4. Sondyloarthropathies
  5. 5. Infectious arthritis
  6. 6. Systemic lupus erythematosus
  7. 7. Scleroderma/connective tissue disease
  8. 8. Sjogren syndrome
  9. 9. Vasculitis
  10. 10. Polymyalgia rheumatica/giant cell
  11. 11. Non-articular rheumatism/muscle disease
  12. 12. Bone disease/metabolism
  13. 13. Crystal deposition arthropathies
  14. 14. Osteoarthritis
  15. 15. Systemic diseases and arthritis
  16. 16. Miscellaneous arthritic disorders/tumors
  • 3-7%
  • 1-4%
  • 11-15%
  • 3-7%
  • 4-8%
  • 8-12%
  • 3-7%
  • 1-4%
  • 11-15%
  • 3-7%
  • 6-10%
  • 6-10%
  • 3-7%
  • 2-6%
  • 3-7%
  • 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.