Longitudinal Assessment for PM&R

The Transition to Longitudinal Assessment

The ABPMR successfully completed its longitudinal assessment pilot in early 2019 (also following a successful acceleration of the pilot) and has announced a planned transition to Longitudinal Assessment for PM&R (LA-PM&R) for all diplomates in 2020. This page provides an overview of longitudinal assessment and the design of our LA-PM&R program including the customization system and scoring, plus plans for implementation for all ABPMR diplomates.

Why Longitudinal Assessment?

Real-Time Assessment For Learning

Why are we implementing longitudinal assessment, and why now?

  • We Heard You

    You told us you wanted a certification process that was more meaningful and relevant, less burdensome, and added value. The way we’re implementing longitudinal assessment offers a convenient, customizable product that is backed by research as a valuable learning tool. Learn more about how the program works.

  • Increased Value of Board Certification

    Longitudinal assessment uses a learning platform to both assess knowledge and improve memory retention. With immediate feedback, identification of knowledge gaps, and resources to help you learn and improve, 93% of ABPMR’s LA-PM&R pilot participants agree: this program adds tremendous value to certification.

  • Improved Relevance

    The physiatrist-designed customization system allows users to dial their question content concentrations up or down according to their practices – or their learning objectives. Learn more about the customization system here.

  • Decreased Burden

    Most ABPMR LA-PM&R pilot participants reported spending two hours or less of total time on the platform every quarter – including answering questions, reading critiques, reviewing performance, and making any plans to close knowledge gaps. This, coupled with the elimination of the MOC Examination along with accompanying costs of study materials and time off work, means longitudinal assessment decreases diplomate burden in several ways.

  • Data-Driven Assessment and Learning

    The results of the ABPMR LA-PM&R pilot were clear: Participating in longitudinal assessment significantly increased performance on the secure MOC Examination and demonstrated that participants learned over time. See the full results here.

  • Integrated Parts of MOC

    As we look to the start of a continuous certification program format in 2021, implementation of LA-PM&R goes a long way in tying parts of Maintenance of Certification together. Participation counts not only for knowledge assessment, but also earns you self-assessment CME. You could also use your knowledge gap data to create your next practice improvement project!

Check Out Your Personalized Timeline

What About Me?

How does LA-PM&R implementation affect you? Select your current certificate expiration year to find out. (Not sure when your current certificate expires? Find yourself on our Physician Search Tool or log in to your account.)

Transitioning to Longitudinal Assessment for PM&R: A Timeline

What’s Next?

  • 1

    March 2019

    ABPMR LA-PM&R Pilot Concludes
  • 2

    April 2019

    ABPMR Announces Pilot Results, Transition Plans

    Read more about the pilot results, participant survey results, and announcement of the transition to LA-PM&R

    Personalized Transition Charts

    All ABPMR diplomates receive personalized transition charts via email. This information is also available via our “What About Me?” interactive tool

  • 3

    Fall/Late 2019

    LA-PM&R Enrollment

    Later this year, we’ll invite diplomates to officially enroll in LA-PM&R for 2020 via their ABPMR.org account. This involves agreeing to ABPMR policies and ensuring your account is up to date, including paying any outstanding annual fees.

  • 4

    January 2020

    ABPMR Diplomates Start Longitudinal Assessment

    All diplomates starting a LA-PM&R participation or assessment cycle will begin receiving questions in January 2020. All other diplomates in optional participation years can start, too! Learn more about participation and assessment cycles by viewing the “What About Me?” interactive tool.

Participation vs. Assessment Cycles

Depending on your current certificate expiration date, during the transition to longitudinal assessment you may have some LA-PM&R participation years before you begin your first 5-year assessment cycle. Here are the differences between the two.

Participation Phase-In

  • Minimum 75 percent meaningful participation required total (i.e., 3 out of 4 quarters, 6 out of 8 total quarters, etc)
  • Earn self-assessment CME (SA-CME) for every quarter of meaningful participation
  • If less than five years from expiration, meaningful participation counts for your MOC Part III Examination requirement
  • If more than five years from expiration, we encourage you to participate in LA-PM&R for the learning and SA-CME benefits — but participation is optional before you enter your first assessment cycle (five years before certificate expiration and ongoing after recertification)
  • Already passed the MOC Examination? Your minimum participation required is 0%, but we encourage you to participate for the learning and SA-CME benefits

Assessment Cycle

  • Your LA-PM&R performance assessment is based on four years (16 quarters) of performance with assessment occurring in 5th year
  • The lowest four quarters are dropped from scoring, allowing built-in flexibility for time off, sabbaticals, or leaves of absence
  • In year 5, LA-PM&R participation is encouraged for learning and SA-CME benefits, but not required
  • Earn SA-CME for every quarter of meaningful participation
  • Diplomates begin an assessment cycle after they have successfully closed out their current 10-year cycle, or five years prior
  • LA-PM&R assessment will occur every five years as an integrated part of your MOC requirements

ABPMR Longitudinal Assessment Program

LA-PM&R Features and Scoring

Customization System

Before starting your assessment, you’ll be able to dial up or down the percentage of questions you get across five domains to customize your content to your preferences.

Read More

Longitudinal Assessment Overview

Check out our infographic to learn how this research-backed adult learning method works to both assess knowledge and boost memory retention over time.

View Infographic


By participating in LA-PM&R, diplomates can fulfill another MOC requirement: For every quarter you participate fully, you’ll earn three (3) self-assessment CME (SA-CME) credits, or up to 12 per year.

How to claim SA-CME

LA-PM&R Scoring

Quarterly longitudinal assessment questions will be scored over a four-year period, but we’ll be providing feedback along the way to let you know whether you’re on track.

How Scoring Works


The ABPMR is using the next few years to analyze our cost for the platform, developing questions, and supporting the new program; for now, diplomates will continue to pay the $200 annual fee for maintaining certification. The ABPMR will set fees in line with costs to run the program. One significant benefit is the elimination of the costs associated with taking the MOC Examination, including time off work, study materials, and travel.


Getting Back On Track

First, we want to emphasize that the purpose of LA-PM&R is to keep you up to date and in the process of continual learning. You’ve already earned your certification, and longitudinal assessment is a research-backed tool to help you stay up to date. This is the philosophy and heart of this program, and to that end, we anticipate the primary reason for loss of certification will be non-participation or professionalism issues.

The purpose of LA-PM&R is to keep you up to date.

  • Our goal in switching to this assessment method is to make the certification process more formative, enhancing the value of your board certification by integrating a continual knowledge assessment and offering resources to improve.

Your LA-PM&R performance assessment won’t be a surprise.

  • The ABPMR will continually monitor performance and provide individualized updates on performance and whether you’re meeting the standard. The vast majority of diplomates will stay on track simply by using the platform, which helps you learn and improve over time. Diplomates who don’t participate or whose performance hovers near the assessment standard will get notifications and suggestions for remediation long before the final assessment.

We’ll offer help along the way.

  • One of the most exciting possibilities of longitudinal assessment is truly individualized learning – over time as you get a fuller picture of how you’re performing and where your knowledge gaps are, the ABPMR hopes to begin offering suggestions for educational resources and opportunities in relevant areas.

Re-Entry Pathways

For those whose certification has expired or those looking to get back on track, there are two pathways for fulfilling the assessment requirement as part of regaining certification:

Five-Year LA-PMR&R Assessment Cycle

  • Complete a five-year assessment block (final assessment occurs in year 5), meet performance standard
  • Complete all other MOC requirements
  • After LA-PMR&R results are finalized, status will be "Certified, not meeting requirements"
  • On January 1 of following year, status will be "Certified, meeting requirements"

Re-Entry Exam

  • Apply, pay for, and pass the re-entry exam, a secure examination alternative to longitudinal assessment
  • This 250-item exam is based on the blueprint of the Part I Examination (including difficulty level)
  • Complete all other MOC requirements
  • Upon passing the exam, status will be "Certified, not meeting requirements"
  • On January 1 of following year, status will be "Certified, meeting requirements"

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why are you transitioning to this new assessment method?

    We heard loud and clear from our diplomates: the old assessment method, the secure MOC Examination, must change. You’ve told us that it’s not relevant to your practice and doesn’t add value to your certification. Nevertheless, the ABPMR has a commitment to the public to offer a credential that includes a periodic assessment of skills and knowledge.

    As the board explored options for increasing the value of post-certification assessment, longitudinal assessment rose to the top quickly: Not only is it backed by adult learning research, but it’s also convenient, customizable, and promotes learning over the long term. Our pilot bore out these conclusions and the ABPMR board has enthusiastically embraced longitudinal assessment as a valuable tool that will help diplomates improve.

  • What is longitudinal assessment?

    Longitudinal assessment is a method that has been shown to enhance memory retention and facilitate new learning. The user completes shorter, more frequent assessments with spaced repetition (seeing similar questions repeated periodically). It can be likened to quizzing, learning your knowledge gaps, then re-quizzing a little while later to see if you've retained or learned the information.

    Research on this method has shown that the act of quizzing and re-quizzing over time actually improves learning and memory retention better than other study methods, such as reading a text or studying flashcards.

  • How is longitudinal assessment different from a secure exam?

    It's different in some fundamental ways, representing a shift in how we're approaching post-certification assessment:

    • The goal of a longitudinal assessment is to transform post-certification assessment from a secure test of knowledge to an assessment of and for learning. This means the ABPMR not only sets the standards for the specialty, but now also provides tools to facilitate learning and ongoing improvement.
    • The questions in the longitudinal assessment format will have multiple clones (related questions) that re-test the same knowledge in a very specifically timed manner — a method that has been shown to enhance memory retention. The assessment design doesn’t just test what you know; it helps you learn.
    • The diplomate dashboard provides valuable personalized insight for users. You’ll be able to more clearly see your knowledge gaps and, eventually, have access to targeted resources (CME and other suggestions) to help you shore up that knowledge.
  • How did you come up with the ABPMR LA-PM&R program design?

    The basis for our longitudinal assessment is the latest in adult learning theory research, which has shown that shorter, more frequent assessments with spaced repetition enhance learning and memory retention.

    But in addition to research, we’ve used survey and focus group data from diplomates and longitudinal assessment pilot participants to guide each detail, from number of questions to timing to reminders. We will continue to solicit feedback as the platform is made available to all ABPMR diplomates and plan to reevaluate the design periodically based on those results and other data from the platform.

  • Why is there a two-minute time limit on each question?

    The purpose of limiting the time a user has to answer the question is that part of the ABPMR design for longitudinal assessment is to assess and improve ‘walking-around knowledge,’ i.e., those PM&R concepts that should be part of any board-certified physiatrist’s repertoire. Our board of directors felt it was important to test current knowledge, not what a physician could look up if given five minutes instead of two. Additionally, the point of longitudinal assessment is to show knowledge gaps and give tools for improvement; we anticipate most diplomates will see an improvement of their performance over time as the system helps them learn.

  • How will this affect me?

    The ABPMR has created a plan to implement longitudinal assessment immediately to replace the MOC Examination starting in 2020. Your date of LA-PM&R participation or assessment depends on your current certificate’s expiration year; please see your personalized email or our “What About Me?” interactive tool for more details.

  • What if my certificate expires in 2019? Can I use LA PM&R instead of taking the MOC Exam?

    Unfortunately, no. LA-PM&R is opening to all diplomates starting in 2020, when your certification will already be expired. To maintain your certification, you must complete all current MOC requirements, including taking and passing the secure MOC Examination.

    Because you don’t have the option to use LA PM&R for your assessment requirement, yours is the last class that will receive a 10-year certificate from the ABPMR before we transition to a continuing certification process (more about this in late 2020).

  • How does LA-PM&R fit into my requirements? What is it replacing?

    LA-PM&R is replacing the MOC Examination for the assessment portion of MOC.

    But great news: we have partnered with the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) to grant three (3) self-assessment CME (SA-CME) credits for every quarter of LA-PM&R participation. This means that this one activity can be used to fulfill multiple MOC requirements — and we plan to continue integrating other parts of MOC as we look to 2021 and a more continuing certification program. Read more about ABPMR-Approved Self-Assessments here.

  • Is the MOC Examination still available?

    The MOC Examination will be available through 2020 only (spring and fall administrations); after that point it will be retired. Starting in 2021, the ABPMR will offer the re-entry exam for any physicians with expired or dropped primary certificates, or those not meeting the performance standard in LA-PM&R.

  • If I’m eligible, can I take the MOC Examination in 2019 or 2020 instead of participating in LA-PM&R

    You could, but we want to be sure you know:

    • You’ll be paying more. Anyone taking the MOC Examination will pay the $795 exam application fee plus any annual fees due, while LA-PM&R is included in your annual fee.
    • Regardless of whether you take the exam or participate in LA-PM&R, you’ll still transition to a continuing certification process at the start of your next certification cycle. All classes expiring in 2020 and later will transition into continuing certification process (similar to the current five-year milestone process), regardless of whether they took the secure exam or used LA-PM&R to fulfill MOC Part III.
  • Why not continue the MOC Examination (instead of a new re-entry exam) for diplomates who want to take a secure exam instead of longitudinal assessment?

    We have long heard that the MOC Examination isn’t relevant to diplomates, uses too many factoid questions, and doesn’t add value to certification. Longitudinal assessment, in contrast, offers significant value as a learning platform, allowing course correction and remediation over the five-year assessment period. Creating an exam based on the Part I Examination blueprint allows us to offer a high-quality exam alternative to those with expired certificates, but we expect this exam to be seldom used.

  • What if I've already taken and passed the MOC Examination for my current MOC cycle? Do I still have to answer 75% of LA-PM&R questions before my certification expires to fulfill the MOC Part III requirement?

    No. If you have passed the MOC Examination for your current MOC cycle, your required LA-PM&R participation level is 0%; however, we encourage all diplomates to participate for the learning and SA-CME benefits.

  • It's less than five years before my certificate expires. What if I don’t fulfill the 75% LA-PM&R participation requirement before my current certification expires?

    If you don't fulfill the 75% LA-PM&R participation requirement or pass the MOC Examination before your current certificate expiration date, or pass the MOC Examination by 2020, OR if you don’t complete all other MOC requirements, your certification will expire and you will no longer be board certified.

    If your certification expires, you can regain it via one of two re-entry pathways; read more here

  • It's more than five years before my certificate expires. What if I don’t participate in LA-PM&R in the last five years of my cycle?

    First, the ABPMR is honoring the terms of all current 10-year certificates, so even if you do nothing, you will retain your board-certified status until your certificate expiration date.

    If you don’t participate in LA-PM&R during your assessment phase, you will not meet the performance standard and will not fulfill the assessment portion of your MOC requirements, resulting in a loss of certification after your current certificate expires. In addition, non-participation will result in an MOC participation status change of Certified, Not Meeting MOC Requirements.

    If you are participating and not meeting the performance standard, there will be options for remediation (to be determined).

  • What if I do not meet the LA-PM&R performance standard?

    As explained above under ‘Re-Entry Pathways,’ any diplomate not meeting the LA-PM&R performance standard (don’t worry, you’ll know far in advance if this is the case) will be able to regain certification by undergoing another five-year LA-PM&R assessment cycle (while expired) or by passing the re-entry examination, which is based on the blueprint and difficulty level of the Part I Examination.

    Based on the experience of other boards, the ABPMR anticipates that most cases of not meeting the LA-PM&R assessment standard will be the result of non-compliance, not performance issues. However, be assured that we will give you performance feedback and suggestions for learning and remediation along the way. Our goal is that all diplomates will be participating and learning using the platform, and as long as you’re improving, not meeting the standard is unlikely.

  • How will my new certificate be different than my current 10-year certificate?

    The ABPMR is planning to transition all diplomates into continuing their certification in five-year assessment blocks, which is actually fairly similar to the current five-year “milestone” cycles under the Maintenance of Certification program. Instead of one long 10-year runway, all MOC requirements will be divided into 5-year blocks, including LA-PM&R assessments, SA-CME, and practice improvement projects. Continuing certification will begin replacing 10-year certificates starting in 2021, and we’ll release more information about it in 2020.

  • Will longitudinal assessment be offered for subspecialties?

    Not yet — all of our focus has been on getting the primary PM&R longitudinal assessment process in place. However, the ABPMR intends to transition maintenance of subspecialty certification into longitudinal assessment as well, so stay tuned for details over the next several years.

  • Can diplomates with ‘lifetime’ certification participate in LA-PM&R?

    Yes! We believe longitudinal assessment has benefits for all physicians, and we will be encouraging diplomates not currently participating in MOC to use the platform too. To participate, sign in to your abpmr.org account and go through the enrollment process. You will be required to pay the $200 annual fee for each year of participation.