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 or ACGME-recognized training program.
  • Satisfactorily complete three years of AOA or ACGME-recognized training in ophthalmology.
  • Hold an active 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:

  • Graduation from a COCA-approved college of osteopathic medicine.
  • Completion of an AOA or ACGME-recognized PGY-1 year.
  • Verification of program status from the American Osteopathic Association.
  • Your current state medical license.

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. The written exam will be remotely proctored and administered online by MonitorEDU.  The application period opens in the fall and the first 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, 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.