Written Exam


To be eligible for certification in Psychiatry, candidates must meet the criteria below:

  • Be a graduate of a COCA-accredited college of osteopathic medicine.
  • Satisfactorily complete a one-year internship in an AOA approved training program.
  • Satisfactorily complete three years of AOA-approved training in Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry, or a combination of the two.
  • Successfully sit for and pass all sections of the certification examination.
  • Hold an unrestricted license to practice in a state or territory.
  • Adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.
  • Practice in the specialty should be a minimum of 75% of your clinical time.


At the time of application, you must submit the following to the AOBNP:

  • Completed application.
  • Copy of your diploma from a COCA-accredited college of osteopathic medicine.
  • Certificate of internship or letter from program director stating you satisfactorily completed an AOA-approved internship.
  • Certificate of residency (if completed). If not yet completed, a letter from Residency Director certifying that you are within six months of completing training.
    • If you completed an ACGME residency, you must include a letter from the American College of Osteopathic Neurologists and Psychiatrists (ACONP) stating that approval of your Residency is pending with the AOA.
  • Copy of your current state medical license.
  • One passport photo or copy of a government issued ID, i.e., driver’s license, passport.

Exam Fees

An application fee of $1,650 must be submitted with your completed application. This covers the $350 application fee and $1,300 initial examination fee. No application will be considered complete until all fees have been paid.

No amount of the examination fee paid shall be returned after the application has been processed.

If an applicant fails the exam, the fee for reexamination is $1,200.

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Psychiatry Written Exam is offered once a year at a Pearson Vue testing center. The application period usually opens in September, and applications are due by Feb. 10. Upon successful completion of the application process, the AOBNP will advise applicants via email of acceptance to take the exam.

Exam Content Outline

The Written Exam consists of 300 multiple-choice, single-answer questions in a pass/fail format. All questions are evenly weighted and the examination is subjected to conventional psychometric analysis using accepted modern methods of key validation and item scoring. The total examination time will take six hours and will be proctored. No questions pertaining to exam content are allowed during the examination.

AOBNP – Psychiatry Table of Specifications Approved for Feb. 22 – 28, 2021
Primary Certification
Content area CONTENT area PERCENT
Assessment for the Psychiatrist 12%
Biopsychosocial Medicine 9%
ECT 2%
Life Cycle 10%
Manual Medicine 2%
Neurology for the Psychiatrist 17%
Pharmacological Agents 14%
Psychiatric Disorders 21%
Psychoactive Substance Use/Abuse 5%
Psychotherapies 8%
AOBNP – Psychiatry Table of Specifications Approved for Exams Administered After Feb. 2021
Primary Certification
Content area CONTENT area PERCENT
Neurology for Psychiatrists 8%
Assessment 10%
Psychiatric Disorders 13%
Interventional Psychiatry 5%
Psychotherapies 8%
Pharmacological Agents 12%
Life Cycle/Development 5%
Psychosomatic Medicine 10%
Emergency Psychiatry 8%
Complementary/Alternative Treatment 5%
Ethics 10%
Forensics 6%


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.