OSTEOPATHIC BOARD CERTIFICATION

Component 3: Cognitive Assessment

Introduction

Through participation in Osteopathic Continuous Certification, AOA board-certified physicians maintain necessary skills, explore advancements in medicine and demonstrate expertise in their specialty. OCC Component 3 requires physicians certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopedic Surgery to pass one or more psychometrically valid and proctored examinations focused on assessing medical knowledge and core competencies.

In 2021, the AOBOS announced the replacement of the traditional high-stakes recertification exam previously required every 10 years with a longitudinal assessment model designed to enhance flexibility and streamline the certification process. Longitudinal assessment leverages technology to facilitate continuous learning through shorter assessments , delivered over time via a convenient remote online learning platform.

The AOBOS longitudinal assessment is administered through the CATALYST platform hosted by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME). The platform is easily accessible from your computer, tablet, smartphone or mobile app.

Longitudinal Assessment Registration

If you hold primary certification in Orthopedic Surgery, and not subspecialty certification in Hand Surgery or Orthopedic Sports Medicine, please follow the guidelines below to determine when you should register for longitudinal assessment

  • If your initial primary certification was issued before Jan. 1, 2022:
    You are required to participate in longitudinal assessment each year, beginning in the expiration year of your current 10-year certificate. Registration opens in Oct. and closes Dec. 5 prior to the following year’s assessment.
  • If your initial primary certification was issued on Jan. 1, 2022, or later:
    You are not required to begin participation in longitudinal assessment for one full calendar year after becoming board certified. One year from the issue date of your initial primary certification, you will be required to register during the next available registration cycle and begin participation in longitudinal assessment the following year. Example: If you received initial certification in Spring 2022, you would register for longitudinal assessment in Fall 2023 and begin participation in 2024.

Longitudinal Assessment Schedule

Longitudinal Assessment Schedule
Cert Expiration Registration Opens Registration Closes Cycle Begins First Wednesday in March
Dec. 31, 2022 Oct. 15, 2021 Dec. 5, 2021 March 2022
Dec. 31, 2023 Oct. 1, 2022 Dec. 5, 2022 March 2023
Dec. 31, 2024 Oct. 1, 2023 Dec. 5, 2023 March 2024
Dec. 31, 2025 Oct. 1, 2024 Dec. 5, 2024 March 2025
Dec. 31, 2026 Oct. 1, 2025 Dec. 5, 2025 March 2026
Dec. 31, 2027 Oct. 1, 2026 Dec. 5, 2026 March 2027
Dec. 31, 2028 Oct. 1, 2027 Dec. 5, 2027 March 2028
Dec. 31, 2029 Oct. 1, 2028 Dec. 5, 2028 March 2029

Longitudinal Assessment Process

Each longitudinal assessment cycle will coincide with the OCC cycle, lasting three years.

During each calendar year of the three-year cycle, you will be required to:

Answer the questions delivered.  Questions will be available via the Catalyst platform during March and April to answer at your own pace.  Questions will not be timed and can be answered in an open book testing format. 15 questions will be delivered in the year 2022 with the annual number increasing to 30 in future years.

Number of reattempts:

You will receive immediate feedback upon answering a question, the platform will display the correct answer, the rationale, and the reference for that answer.  If you do not attain the minimum passing score on your first attempt, you will take the month of May off and then have access to the same questions for a second attempt during June.

Longitudinal Assessment Scoring

You must achieve a grade of 80% annually to successfully pass the longitudinal assessment

If you do not achieve 80% or fail to participate in a required longitudinal assessment, your certification may be placed in inactive status. In that case, you may contact the AOBOS to explore options for remediation.

Longitudinal Assessment FAQs

General information:

  • What is longitudinal assessment?
    Longitudinal assessment is a process that leverages technology to facilitate continuous learning by providing shorter assessments, delivered over time and accessible via a convenient remote online learning platform.
  • When can I begin longitudinal assessment?
    You will register for longitudinal assessment by December 5th of the year preceding your expiration and begin answering questions in March of your expiration year.
  • How do I know when my certification was issued or expires?Visit the AOA Physician Portal to view your certification details and check the status of your OCC.
  • I have a non-time limited certificate. Do I need to participate in longitudinal assessment?
    No, participation in longitudinal assessment is voluntary if you hold a non-time-limited certificate.
  • Do I need to complete longitudinal assessment if I received certification through the AOA’s ABMS reciprocity campaign?
    Yes, you must fulfill all requirements for Osteopathic Continuous Certification in order to maintain AOA Board Certification.

Exam platform:

  • How is longitudinal assessment administered?
    The AOBOS longitudinal assessment is administered through the CATALYST platform, hosted by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME).
  • How do I access the CATALYST platform?
    The CATALYST platform can be accessed anytime via computer, tablet, smartphone or the CATALYST mobile app.

Longitudinal assessment registration:

  • How do I register for longitudinal assessment?
    If you are eligible to participate in longitudinal assessment, you can register on the AOBOS website.
  • How much does longitudinal assessment cost?
    The annual fee is $230 and is required at the time of registration.

Longitudinal assessment process:

  • Are the assessments timed?
    Questions are not timed but are only available for a specific window of time annually. The availability window for the first attempt is March and April. The availability window for a second attempt, if needed, is June.
  • Can I begin questions and them resume my exam?
    Yes, you can stop and resume your exam at any time during the availability window.
  • What is the passing score?
    80%.
  • What happens if I am unsuccessful in meeting the passing score?
    Because you are given immediate feedback regarding the correct answer and reference for that answer and allowed two attempts with the same set of questions, the opportunity for a successful outcome is very high. If you are unsuccessful, you will be required to participate in a Clinical Pathway chart review examination.

OCC for Subspecialty Certification in Hand Surgery or Orthopedic Sports Medicine

Longitudinal Assessment is not available for subspecialty OCC.  Long-form exams are still required for OCC (recertification) in Hand Surgery or Orthopedic Sports Medicine. Passing the subspecialty exam also extends certification in primary orthopedic surgery

Hand Surgery Exam Content Outline

The written exam consists of 100 “type A” (one best answer) multiple-choice questions. It is given in one part, and candidates have two hours to complete the exam.

Subspecialty Certification
CATEGORY PERCENT
Amputation 3-5%
Arthritis 13-15%
Infection 11-13%
Joint 10-12%
Microsurgery 6-8%
Nerve 12-14%
Osseous 9-11%
Pediatrics 3-5%
Soft Tissue 1-3%
Tendon 8-10%
Tumor 7-9%
Vascular 5-7%

Hand Surgery 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.

Orthopedic Sports Medicine Exam Content Outline

The written exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions with topics taken from all areas of Orthopedic Sports Medicine. The exam duration is four hours with one break.

The source material for the examination questions is not limited to any particular text or journal.

OCC Orthopedic Sports Medicine Written Exam
CATEGORY PERCENT
Lower Extremity: Hip 10-14%
Lower Extremity: Knee 15-21%
Lower Extremity: Foot and Ankle 11-17%
Upper Extremity: Shoulder 12-18%
Upper Extremity: Elbow 10-16%
Upper Extremity: Wrist and Hand 12-14%
Non-Operative 11-17%

Orthopedic Sports Medicine 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.

Exam Policies

Right to Appeal

If a candidate feels that the actions of the AOBOS with regard to any part of the examination constitute unequal application of the regulations and requirements or standards, unwarranted discrimination, prejudice, unfairness or improper conduct of the examination, he or she has the right to appeal to this Board.

Appeals must be made on an appeal request form and submitted via track-able delivery method within three days of the exam administration. Appeal request forms will be provided to all candidates prior to the start of the exam. All appeals submitted after the three day deadline will be denied for all exams except the Clinical Examination. Late appeals to this exam will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

A majority vote of the committee will determine whether the AOBOS accepts or denies the appeal.

Candidates will be advised of the Board’s decision by certified mail. If the Appeal Committee accepts an appeal, then the candidate’s examination will not be scored or recorded, and the candidate has the right to take a new exam at the next scheduled exam date with no additional fee. If applicable, the candidate’s original case log will be utilized and the next clinical exam will be conducted by different examiners.

If an appeal is denied by the AOBOS, the candidate retains the right to appeal to the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS) and AOA Board of Trustees.

The AOBOS will not consider appeals based on examination content, sufficiency or accuracy of answers given to examination questions, scoring of the examination, scoring of answers to individual questions, and/or the determination of the minimum passing score.

Compliance With Federal Regulations

The AOBOS complies with all applicable federal and state regulations, including:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The AOBOS complies with requirements prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation, as well as regulations for Title II and Title III (and all subsequent regulations) as printed in the federal register.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): In compliance with the HIPAA Act of 1996 and any subsequent modifications, the AOBOS ensures that individuals’ health information is properly protected, while allowing the flow of health information to provide and promote high quality health care. All medical records submitted for review by candidates for AOBOS certification will be de-identified by the candidate prior to submission, such that the remaining information cannot be used to identify an individual patient.