Written Exam


Prior to sitting for the exam, the following eligibility requirements must be met:

  • Have graduated from, or be in the fourth or fifth year of, an ACGME accredited residency in orthopedic surgery.
  • Adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.


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

  • Completed application and fees.
  • Fourth year residents must submit approval to examine from their Program Director.

When completing your application, please be sure to:

  • Check the pre-populated demographic information and make any necessary corrections.
    • Provide a personal email not your residency email.
    • Provide a mobile number.

Review the pre-populated residency information. If corrections are needed, use the checkbox to indicate them. The AOA GME Department will verify the changes with your program and make the corrections. Updates will not be immediately recorded on the PDF copy of your application that is emailed to you.

Exam Fees

An exam fee of $1,000 must accompany your completed application. No application will be considered complete until all fees have been paid.

The American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics (AOAO) has generously offered a $500 scholarship towards the Part I Written Exam fee. Visit the AOAO site for details.

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Orthopedic Surgery Written Exam is offered once per year, the second week of May. The application period opens in October, and the first deadline is the first business day in March. Late fees will apply after the first deadline. The final application deadline is the first business day in April.

The written exam is administered by remote proctor and can be taken in the private space of your choosing. After your application is accepted, you will receive instructions for scheduling your exam appointment. It is important to visit our informational page on remote-proctored exams for details about what to expect on exam day and what is required in your testing environment. The AOBOS does allow white boards during testing.

Exam Content Outline

The written exam consists of 250 multiple-choice questions. It is given in three 120-minute sections of approximately 80 questions each, with optional 15-minute breaks between each section. The total time including breaks is six hours and 30 minutes. It is important to note that the exam clock will resume after 15 minutes even if you have not returned.

Primary Certification
Foot/Ankle 10-11%
Hand/Upper Extremity 10-12%
Joint 11-14%
Pediatrics 9-11%
Sports Medicine 11-13%
Spine 9-11%
Trauma 11-14%
Tumor 4-6%
Infection 5-6%
Basic Science 12-16%

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 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.


Pass Rate

The 5-year aggregate pass rate for the Orthopedic Surgery written exam is 97.5%.*

*This pass rate includes board-eligible examinees who are first-time test takers in the past five years, excluding candidates retaking the exam.