Certification Exam


To be eligible for primary certification in Anatomic Pathology, 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, or training equivalent to an internship as determined by the AOA Council on Postdoctoral Training.
  • Satisfactorily complete three years of AOA-approved residency training in anatomic pathology, or four years of AOA-approved training in combined anatomic pathology and laboratory medicine.
  • Successfully sit for and pass all sections of the certification examination.
  • Hold an active license to practice in a state or territory.
  • Adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.


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

  • A copy of your CV or resume.
  • Proof of residency completion (documentation of AOA recognition of training is preferred).
  • A recent passport-sized photo.
  • If you’ve been out of residency longer than one year, you must submit documentation of your CME and/or related training.

Exam Fees

A fee of $1,850 must accompany your completed application. This covers the full exam fee of $1,800 and the application fee of $50. No application will be considered complete until all fees have been paid.

If an applicant fails any part of the exam, the fee for re-examination is $600 per section.

Beginning with the 2020 administration, an additional late fee will be applied to the exam fee after the first application deadline. The late fee will be 30% of the exam fee. Examination fees must be made by credit card within the application portal. No other forms of payment may be accepted.

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Anatomic Pathology Certification Exam is offered one weekend every fall, generally during the AOA OMED Conference. Beginning in 2020, the application period opens five months prior to the exam date. The first application deadline will be 45 days prior to exam date. The final deadline will be 15 days prior to the exam date.

All candidates requesting exam accommodations must submit their requests at the time of application and by the first application deadline (45 days prior to the exam).

Exam Content Outline

The Anatomic Pathology Certification Exam consists of three sections: written, oral and practical. The total exam takes 9 hours, divided as follows:

  • Written Exam – 4 hours, 100 multiple-choice questions
  • Oral Exam – 1 hour
  • Practical Exam – 4 hours, 100 multiple-choice questions

The exam is currently given in a paper/pencil format with computers for images as indicated by the exam committee. The table below outlines the content areas covered by the exam.

Primary Certification
Gastrointestinal (includes GI tract, liver, pancreas, gallbladder) 22%
Head and Neck (excludes Neuropathology) 5%
Genitourinary (includes male reproductive) 6%
Endocrine 4%
Administrative, Inspection, and DO Viewpoint 8%
Neuropathology 3%
Breast 12%
Cardiovascular 3%
Lung and Respiratory Tract (includes pleura) 6%
Dermatopathology 13%
Soft Tissue, Bones, and Joints 5%
Obstetrical and Gynecologic 13%

Exam Scoring

The final exam score is divided as follows:

  • Practical exam: 50%
  • Written exam: 40%
  • Oral exam: 10%

Exam Failure

Failure to achieve a final passing score on the examination will require the applicant to be reexamined in all parts, unless the applicant failed only one part and only by 10% of the cut score. In such a situation, the board may allow a candidate to be re-examined only on the failed part the next time that exam is offered. If the candidate then fails to achieve a passing score, he/she must take the complete examination on subsequent attempts. The fee for reexamination will be set by the Board. Reexamination will be available at the next iteration of testing as scheduled by the AOBPa.