AOBS announces the Oct. 10, 2020 Oral Exams are postponed

Written Exam


The following requirements must be completed before a candidate may sit for the Written Exam for subspecialty board certification in Surgical Critical Care:

  • Achieve primary AOA board certification in a surgical specialty or Emergency Medicine.
  • Complete one year of AOA- or ACOS-approved training in Surgical Critical Care.


Once training requirements for eligibility are met, candidates must submit the following:

  • A completed application.
  • Required fees.
  • Applicants who have not completed training in Surgical Critical Care must submit a letter from their Program Director verifying the completion date of an AOA-approved residency training program.

Exam Fees

An exam fee of $1,750 must be submitted with your completed application. No application will be considered complete until all fees have been paid.

All cancellations must be made in writing. Exam cancellations received 30 days or more prior to the exam date will be refunded less a $500 cancellation fee. No refunds will be issued for cancellations received within 30 days of the exam date.

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The AOBS Written Exam is offered in May and October. The application period opens at least 90 days prior to exam date.

Exam Content Outline

The AOBS written exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that tests the knowledge and understanding of basic science and clinical knowledge, skills and principles critical to the practice of Surgical Critical Care. The examination is subjected to conventional psychometric analysis using accepted modern methods of key validation and item scoring. The total examination time is 2 hours and 15 minutes and is administered at Pearson Vue testing centers throughout the US.

The exam evaluates academic knowledge in the following areas:

Primary Certification
  1. 1. Acute GI
  2. 2. Cardiovascular
  3. 3. Fluids & Electrolytes
  4. 4. Hematology
  5. 5. ID
  6. 6. Initial Resuscitation
  7. 7. Metabolic
  8. 8. Neurology
  9. 9. Neurosurgery
  10. 10. OBGYN
  11. 11. Pharmacology
  12. 12. Renal
  13. 13. Respiratory
  14. 14. Shock
  15. 15. Thermal Injury
  16. 16. Trauma
  • 3 – 7%
  • 16 – 20%
  • 1 – 3%
  • 4 – 8%
  • 6 – 10%
  • 1 – 4%
  • 7 – 11%
  • 3 – 7%
  • 1 – 3%
  • 1 – 3%
  • 11 – 15%
  • 1 – 3%
  • 11 – 15%
  • 1 – 3%
  • 3 – 7%
  • 8 – 12%

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 Failure

Following an initial or second failure of the AOBS Written Exam, the following rules apply:

  • The candidate may apply for re-examination and pay the required fees.
  • The candidate must re-take the exam within a two-year period following the initial or second failure. If the candidate fails to take the exam within this period, the candidate’s file will be considered inactive. Any further applications shall be considered new actions at the discretion of the board.

Following a third failure in the written qualifying and/or oral certifying examination, the candidate may apply for reexamination upon successful completion of a board review course. The applicant must provide documentation of course completion prior to retaking the written examination. Remediation does not guarantee passage of the examination process.