Component 3: Cognitive Assessment


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 [insert specialty] to pass one or more psychometrically valid and proctored examinations focused on assessing medical knowledge and core competencies.

In 2021, the American Osteopathic Board of Pathology 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 relevant to your specialty training and career, delivered over time via a convenient remote online learning platform.

The Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology/Laboratory Medicine longitudinal assessments are administered through the CATALYST platform hosted by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME). The platform is easily accessible from your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Longitudinal Assessment Registration

If you hold primary certification in Anatomic Pathology and/or Clinical Pathology/Laboratory 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 each fall 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 Fall 2022, you would register for longitudinal assessment in Fall 2023 and begin participation in 2024.

Longitudinal Assessment Schedule

The following chart outlines the annual registration and administration cycles for longitudinal assessment. Each three-year cycle consists of three segments (calendar years).

Longitudinal Assessment Schedule
Cert Expiration Registration Opens Registration Closes PARTICIPATION BEGINS
Dec. 31, 2021 Oct. 15, 2021 Jan. 28, 2022 March 2, 2022
Dec. 31, 2022 Oct. 15, 2021 Jan. 28, 2022 March 2, 2022
Dec. 31, 2023 Sept. 1, 2022 Dec. 1, 2022 Jan. 1, 2023
Dec. 31, 2024 Sept. 1, 2023 Dec. 1, 2023 Jan. 1, 2024
Dec. 31, 2025 Sept. 1, 2024 Dec. 1, 2024 Jan. 1, 2025
Dec. 31, 2025 Sept. 1, 2025 Dec. 1, 2025 Jan. 1, 2026
Dec. 31, 2027 Sept. 1, 2026 Dec. 1, 2026 Jan. 1, 2027
Dec. 31, 2028 Sept. 1, 2027 Dec. 1, 2027 Jan. 1, 2028
Dec. 31, 2029 Sept. 1, 2028 Dec. 1, 2028 Jan. 1, 2029
Dec. 31, 2030 Sept. 1, 2029 Dec. 1, 2029 Jan. 1, 2030
Dec. 31, 2031 Sept. 1, 2030 Dec. 1, 2030 Jan. 1, 2031

Longitudinal Assessment Process

Each longitudinal assessment cycle will coincide with the OCC cycle, lasting three years. The three-year cycle is the same for all diplomates. For example, 2022-2024 is an OCC cycle. Then 2025-2027, and so on. For diplomates beginning longitudinal assessment mid-cycle, the first assessment will consist of as many segments (calendar years) as remain in the current cycle.

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

  • Answer 15 untimed multiple-choice questions during the initial assessment period which ends Sept. 30 of each year.
  • For diplomates participating in both Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology/Laboratory Medicine, you will answer 15 multiple-choice questions for each certification.

Number of reattempts:

If a question is answered incorrectly, the assessment platform will display the reference, rationale, and correct answer. Any questions answered incorrectly or left unanswered during the initial assessment period will be reissued to you during the remediation period (Oct. 1 – Dec. 15) for one more attempt to answer the question correctly for full credit. Once the calendar year is closed on Dec. 15, no reattempts will be allowed.

Prorated items:

If your expiration falls in year two or three of a three-year cycle, the number of questions you are required to complete will be prorated. Instead of 45 questions, you will be required to complete 30 if your expiration year falls in year two of the cycle or 15 if your expiration year falls in year three.

Longitudinal Assessment Scoring

You must achieve a cumulative grade of 80% at the conclusion of the three-year cycle in order to successfully pass the longitudinal assessment (for both full and prorated participants).

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

Longitudinal Assessment Fees

Once you begin longitudinal assessment participation, you must register during each year of the three-year CME cycle. A $100 fee per certification will be assessed annually at the time of registration.

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 of knowledge relevant to your specialty training and career, delivered over time and accessible via a convenient remote online learning platform.
  • When can I begin longitudinal assessment?
    Your certification issue/expiration date will determine when should begin participating in longitudinal assessment. View the schedule.
  • 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 AOBPa longitudinal assessment is administered through the CATALYST platform, hosted by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners.
  • How do I access the CATALYST platform?
    The CATALYST platform can be accessed any time via computer, tablet, smartphone or the CATALYST mobile app. You will be sent your access information at the beginning of each assessment.
  • I have certifications in both Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology/Laboratory Medicine. How do I complete both assessments on the CATALYST platform?
    Once you are logged in to the platform, there is a dropdown box on the dashboard that you can use to navigate between the two assessments.

Longitudinal assessment registration:

  • How do I register for longitudinal assessment?
    If you are eligible to participate in longitudinal assessment, you can register on the AOBPa website.
  • How much does longitudinal assessment cost?
    The annual fee is $100 per certification and must be paid at the time of registration.

Longitudinal assessment process:

  • Are the assessments timed?
    Each question is untimed. You have the entire assessment period (from launch through Sept. 30 for initial assessment or Oct. 1 – Dec. 15 for remediation) to answer your questions.
  • Can I begin questions and then resume my exam?
    Yes. You can begin the assessment, leave the site, and return at any time during the assessment period. Questions will only be marked incorrect if left unanswered at the end of the assessment period. You are required to answer the current question before moving on to the next.
  • Can I use reference materials?
    Questions are open book. You are welcome to use reference materials.
  • What is the passing score?
    You must achieve a cumulative grade of 80% at the conclusion of the three-year cycle in order to successfully pass the longitudinal assessment (for both full and prorated participants).
  • What happens if I am unsuccessful in meeting the passing score?
    If you are unsuccessful in meeting the 80% required to pass the cycle, you will have a six-month grace period during which they will be required to sit for a timed, remotely proctored assessment. Failure to pass that assessment will result in inactivation of your certification until such time as you pass the assessment.

Forensic Pathology OCC Exam

The Forensic Pathology OCC Exam consists of a written and a practical section. The written section contains 25 multiple-choice questions, and the practical section contains 2 essay questions. Each section is two hours in length. The Forensic Pathology OCC examination will cover current aspects of Forensic Pathology.

Applications & Payment

The Forensic Pathology OCC cognitive assessment exam can be taken within three years of your certification’s expiration date. To apply, candidates must submit the required application, fees, written evidence of continuous compliance with the initial requirements for certification in their specialty, and any other supporting documents required by the Board.

OCC Certification
EXAM Type Fee
OCC Application $50
OCC Cognitive Assessment Exam Fee $900
OCC Cognitive Assessment Re-examination Fee $450 per section

Forensic Pathology Exam Results

The written exam will constitute 45% of the final score and the practical examination 55% of the final score.

Forensic Pathology Exam Failure

Failure to achieve a final passing score on the examination shall 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 part the candidate failed the next time that examination 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 re-examination will be set by the Board. Re-examination will be available at the next iteration of testing as scheduled by the AOBPa. For physicians holding time-dated certification, failure to successfully complete the OCC process will result in the loss of certification when their current certification expires.

Compliance With Federal Regulations

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

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The AOBPa 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 AOBPa ensures that individuals’ health information is properly protected, while allowing the flow of health information to provide and promote high quality health care. Patient confidentiality as defined by HIPAA will be maintained at all times in every exam administered by the AOBPa.