We want to be your partner for success in ABIM board review and in passing the exam. Here’s a quick guide to preparing for and taking the ABIM Certification exam or Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exam.

Internal Medicine Board Exam Schedule

One of the requirements for maintaining your certification after becoming certified in internal medicine is to schedule, take, and pass the internal medicine board exam once every 10 years. The initial Certification and MOC exams are both intended to cover topics relevant to your internal medicine practice and to evaluate your knowledge and clinical judgment.

Here’s the schedule of upcoming registration deadlines and exam dates for physicians and residents:

ABIM Certification Exam (Initial Certification)

Exam DatesRegistration DatesLate Registration Dates
2017: Aug. 16, 17, 18, 21, 22 or 24Dec. 1, 2016 – Feb. 15, 2017Feb. 16, 2017 – Mar. 1, 2017

ABIM Maintenance of Certification Exam

Exam DatesDeadline for ABIM MOC Enrollment*Schedule a Seat Between…
Fall 2016: Oct. 7, 19, 20 or Nov. 3Aug. 1, 2016May 1, 2016 and Aug. 15, 2016
Spring 2017: Apr. 24, 26 or 28Feb. 15, 2017Dec. 1, 2016 and Feb. 28, 2017
Fall 2017: Oct. 26, 27 or 30Aug. 1, 2017May 1, 2017 and Aug. 15, 2017

* In order to take the MOC exam, you must enroll in the ABIM MOC program by this date.

Content Covered by ABIM Exam Questions

According to the American Board of Internal Medicine1, exam questions are “designed to evaluate the extent of the candidate’s knowledge and clinical judgment in the areas in which an internist should demonstrate a high level of competence.” Your expertise will be assessed across the domain of internal medicine and in diagnosing and treating both common and rare conditions.

The ABIM exam includes solely multiple-choice questions (MCQs). Each MCQ consists of a brief statement, case history, and a graph or picture, followed by a question and a list of possible options. You must choose the one answer that is better than the others; keep in mind, though, that other options may be partially correct. Read our blog post “Strategies for Working Through ABIM Board Questions.”

Over 75% of internal medicine board exam questions are based on patient presentations. According to ABIM, “The setting of the encounters reflect[s] current medical practice, so [roughly 75%] take place in an outpatient or emergency department setting…the remainder occur in inpatient settings, ranging from the intensive care unit to the nursing home.”

ABIM avoids questions that only involve recall of facts. Rather, “the majority of items require integration of information from several sources, prioritization of alternatives, and/or utilization of clinical judgment in reaching a correct conclusion.”

To learn about the ABIM blueprint — the document that guides the ABIM in exam development — please see ABIM Exam Blueprints & Schedules.

Enhancing Your ABIM Board Exam Review

Studying for the internal medicine board exam allows you to assess your competence while refreshing and enhancing your knowledge. For comprehensive guidance on exam preparation, check out our Study Tips section. You can find best learning practices, determine your study style, sign up for our Question of the Week email and review our Ten Study Tips.

Also, you can approach the exam with more confidence by using NEJM Knowledge+ Internal Medicine Board Review. Our unique learning solution features innovative technology that serves a personalized series of questions based on a recognition of your individual strengths and areas for growth — all optimized for efficiency and preparing you to pass the exam with confidence. It also includes two practice exams to get you ready for exam day.

Internal Medicine Board Exam Day Basics

The initial Certification exam lasts about 10 hours (except Cardiovascular Disease is approximately 14 hours).

The Maintenance of Certification exam takes about eight hours (except Hospital Medicine and Transplant Hepatology MOC exams are approximately 10 hours). The testing is delivered in three sessions with a maximum of 70 questions per session.

All ABIM exams are taken on a computer. (Writing instruments are prohibited.) The ABIM website has more information on what to expect on exam day.

Earning ABIM MOC Points

Taking the ABIM MOC exam earns you 20 MOC points. Learn about the new ABIM MOC Requirements instituted in January 2014.

1American Board of Internal Medicine. Internal Medicine Maintenance of Certification Examination Blueprint (pdf).