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 approved training program.
  • Satisfactorily complete three years of AOA-approved training in ophthalmology.
  • Be deemed program complete by the American Osteopathic College of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
  • Successfully pass the AOBOO ophthalmology written exam.
  • Hold an unrestricted 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
  • Passport/license photo

Staff will verify licensure and ensure the AOCOO-HNS 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. There is a $250 cancellation fee.

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

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Ophthalmology Oral Exam is offered once per year, generally every spring. The application period opens in the fall. Applications start at the end of November and close in March.

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, Lacrymal System
  • Pathology and Tumors
  • Pediatrics and Strabismus
  • Retina and Vitreous

Exam Scoring

Oral exams are carefully scored using state-of-the-art measurement methods to ensure accuracy and psychometrically sound, fair and legally defensible standards.

Answers are being graded/scored/rated by examiners.  A candidate’s score is developed by reviewing the specific difficulty of the items taken, the clarity of the candidate’s responses to those prompts, and the severity measure of the examiner. The scores are carefully examined through sound methodological practices as outlined within the Standards for Psychological and Educational Testing.