Written 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.
  • 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 application
  • Copy of your current state medical license
  • Program Director letter or residency certificate
  • All applicable fees

AOA staff will verify the following:

Exam Fees

An exam fee of $1,500 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 $1,500.

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Ophthalmology Written Exam is offered once a year, generally every spring. Retakes are offered twice a year in the spring and the fall/winter at regional Pearson VUE testing centers. The application period opens in the fall for spring applications and the summer/fall for fall/winter examination. The first application deadline will be 45 days prior to the first date of the exam administration window. The final deadline will be 15 days prior to the exam administration window.

Exam Content Outline

The written exam will evaluate the candidate’s understanding of the scientific bases of the problems involved in ophthalmology, otolaryngology, otolaryngology/ facial plastic surgery, familiarity with the current advances in these specialties, and possession of sound judgment and high degree of skill in the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures involved in the practice of these specialties. The three-hour written examination consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • 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

All exam records are submitted to the Board, which together determine the final grade of each portion of the examination. The Board sets passing standards for the written and oral examinations using “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. The standard represents the minimal knowledge specified to be considered a successful ophthalmologist and/or otolaryngologist. All examination results are reviewed and approved by the entire Board. Candidates will be notified no later than 90 days following the Board’s decision. A passing grade in each portion (written and oral) of the examination process must be received for a candidate to be recommended for certification. After a candidate has met all requirements and successfully passed the examinations, the Board makes a recommendation to the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists for certification. The AOA will inform the candidate in writing of his/her certification and certificate number. The Board office is also notified, at which time the Board will order the certificate to be printed.