By now, any clinician who took the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification Exam in October 2015 will have received his or her exam results. Based on ABIM’s typical time frame, results for the fall exam were made available by mid-January, which is also when we began hearing positive news from our customers about their ABIM exam results. It’s great to learn that many of you found success by preparing for the boards with NEJM Knowledge+ Internal Medicine Board Review!

ABIM Exam Results and the ABIM Pass Rate

This is also the time of year when ABIM releases their updated data for first-time test taker pass rates for the Maintenance of Certification examination. The data are updated annually and are now available for 2015, along with pass rate data for initial certification. In October 2014, we wrote about the decline in ABIM pass rates for the MOC exam, which had been on a downward trend from 2009 (90%) to 2013 (78%). In 2014, the pass rate crept up to 80%, and for 2015, the first-time test taker pass rate is up by 8 percentage points, at 88%.

Why is the pass rate back up? As we all know, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding ABIM and MOC requirements, and ABIM exam pass rates were one of many discussion topics. ABIM continues to announce a number of changes to the process to address physicians’ concerns.

ABIM’s Changes to MOC Exam

In June, we wrote about ABIM’s announcement of an updated blueprint and new score report for the recertification exam. The changes to the score report took effect with the spring 2015 internal medicine MOC exam, with the blueprint changes taking effect with the fall 2015 exam. Obviously, the new score report would not have affected any individual test taker’s results between the spring and fall, but perhaps the updated internal medicine MOC examination blueprint was a step in the right direction.

ABIM made the updated blueprint available in June, at the time of their announcement, giving physicians taking the fall exam several months to familiarize themselves with the new exam content outline. They noted that the changes were meant “to ensure the exam reflects what internists in practice today are doing and to provide more detailed explanations of topics that may be included in the exam.” At that time, ABIM described how they approached the updates:

  • The ABIM Internal Medicine Board and Exam Committee, composed of internists with clinical expertise, worked with a representative sample of practicing general internists to inform the blueprint update by rating topics and related tasks for relative frequency and importance in practice.
  • These ratings, along with patient visit data from national surveys, informed adjustments to the distribution of medical content areas on the blueprint.
  • Additionally, the relevance ratings will inform the composition of the MOC examination, ensuring a relevant examination for the general internist who has been in practice.
  • The blueprint now includes a greater level of detail, with a task breakdown in addition to topics covered. It is color-coded to indicate how specific combinations of topics and tasks have been prioritized for selecting MOC exam questions.
  • As indicated on the blueprint, most exam questions will address content rated as high-importance; some questions will address content rated as medium-importance; and no questions will address content rated as low-importance.

Your ABIM Exam Results

If you were one of those who took your recertification exam in October, how did you do? Did the updated ABIM exam blueprint inform how you spent your time preparing? Do you feel that the questions on the exam were more relevant to your practice? Let us know in the comments.