Oral Exam


To be eligible for certification in Ophthalmology, 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 or ACGME-recognized training program.
  • Satisfactorily complete three years of AOA or ACGME-recognized training in ophthalmology.
  • Be deemed program complete by the American Osteopathic Association
  • Successfully pass the AOBOO ophthalmology written qualifying exam.
  • Hold an actice license to practice in a state or territory.
  • Adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.
  • Meet AOA board eligibility requirements.


At the time of application, you must submit the following to the AOBOO-HNS:

  • A completed Oral Exam application

Staff will verify licensure and ensure the AOA has deemed your training complete.

Exam Fees

An exam fee of $2,000 must accompany your completed application. No application will be considered complete until all fees have been paid.

If an applicant fails the exam, the fee for re-examination is $2,000.

Exam Content

The Oral Exam is given individually and is designed to evaluate judgmental processes and the candidate’s ability to solve clinical problems.

Examiners will present the candidate with patient cases, including presenting problems and statements made by the patient. They may include laboratory reports and/or studies appropriate to the etiology of the condition.

Candidates will offer initial/suspected possible diagnoses, interpretation of labs and imaging studies, differential diagnosis, proposed treatment options, case management and possible troubleshooting. At least one question shall embrace the osteopathic philosophy of disease as it pertains to the particular specialty. Topics include:

Topics include:

  • External Disease and Cornea
  • Fundamental Principles of Ophthalmology, General Medicine, Anesthesia
  • Glaucoma
  • Intraocular Inflammation and Uveitis
  • Lens and Cataract
  • Neuro-Ophthalmology
  • Optics, Refraction and Contact Lenses
  • Orbit, Eyelids, Lacrimal System
  • Pathology and Tumors
  • Pediatrics and Strabismus
  • Retina and Vitreous

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 200-800-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.