Register for a Seat
After applying and being declared admissible for an ABPMR exam, it’s time to prepare for exam day! The first step is getting registered for an exam seat at a specific Pearson VUE location.
Pearson VUE has locations in every state. If you have already been declared admissible, you may proceed to the Pearson VUE website to schedule your exam seat.
We recommend reserving your seat as soon as possible after receiving your admissibility email. Delaying risks losing your first choice of location because Pearson VUE also administers exams for other organizations, so popular locations can fill quickly.
When you register, be sure to note what time you are expected for check-in and what time the exam will begin, as these may vary from center to center.
After you register, Pearson VUE will provide a confirmation letter by email or regular mail which will include a confirmation number and directions to your testing center. This is sufficient to confirm your seat, but if you have any questions or concerns, you may contact Pearson VUE directly at (800) 871-9189.
If you withdraw or are unable to take the exam, please notify both the ABPMR and Pearson VUE. See the ABPMR fee policies for more information.
- Preparing for Exam Day
You'll want to prepare a few items before exam day:
Before your examination day, be sure to map out your route to the testing center and have a backup plan. Plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to the scheduled session. If you’re more than 15 minutes late (after the scheduled start time), you may not be permitted to take the exam.
Go to the Pearson VUE website to familiarize yourself with the computerized examination format. You’ll be able to test out the software and answer some sample ABPMR exam questions. If you’re unable to access the tutorial now, don’t worry — the same tutorial will be available at your Pearson VUE workstation on exam day.
Match Your IDs
At check-in, Pearson VUE staff will ask you to present two forms of identification (ID), including at least one government-issued identification with your signature and a recent photograph. The other form of identification must have at least your signature.
Important: The name that's listed on both forms of ID must match the name on file with the ABPMR. Pearson VUE staff will be checking your ID against the list we provide to them, so be sure everything matches up prior to exam day.
For full-day exams, be sure to have a plan for lunch. Pearson VUE facilities do not have any food or dining options. Candidates usually either bring a lunch or purchase food nearby on a scheduled break.
ABPMR Phone Number
We recommend having the ABPMR phone number (507-282-1776) with you — i.e., saved on your mobile phone — so that you can call for assistance in the unlikely event that you run into unexpected issues on exam day.
Computer-Based Test Information
The ABPMR works with Pearson VUE, a computer-based testing vendor, to administer our computer-based exams* at multiple locations across the country simultaneously. This page covers how the exam administration process works at Pearson VUE so that you can focus on preparing for the examination rather than worrying about logistics.
Feel free to bookmark this page and return to it when you have questions about our procedures for Part I.
*All examinations offered by the ABPMR are administered at Pearson VUE except for sports medicine which is administered by the American Board of Family Medicine at Prometric Testing Centers nationwide.
What to Expect
Your Part I Exam
- Before Exam Day
- On Exam Day
- Arriving at the Testing Center
Plan to arrive at the testing center 30 minutes prior to your exam start time.
What to Leave Behind
Certain items are not allowed into the Pearson VUE building and must be left at home or in your vehicle. These include:
- Study guides
- Exam notes
- Reference materials
Pearson VUE will provide you with a locker where you can store your watch, wallet, purse, hat, bag, coat, and mobile phone. However, keep in mind that the test center is not responsible for lost, stolen, or misplaced personal items.
In order to protect exam security and ensure a fair experience to all candidates, Pearson VUE employs several security measures you may not be used to. Check-in procedures include:
- Palm vein pattern
- Digital signature
- Signature on examination rules document
- Audio and video monitoring at all times
These procedures may seem excessive, but all security measures are designed to verify candidates’ identities and ensure a fair and secure test experience for everyone. These are high-stakes examinations and security is of the utmost importance to protect exam integrity.
Dress In Layers
Temperatures inside the exam rooms vary. Be sure to dress in layers so you can add or shed clothing for comfort.
- Check-In Procedures and Starting the Exam
Pearson Vue staff will ask for your two forms of identification (ID), including:
- A government-issued ID with a photograph and signature
- A form of ID that includes at least your signature
Signature on ABPMR Rules
This will be provided by Pearson VUE staff.
Palm Vein Scan
For security and identity verification if you leave and return again.
You may be asked to turn your pockets out to ensure that no prohibited items are being carried into the testing area.
If you have personal items to store, including a watch, wallet, purse, hat, bag, coat, or mobile phone, you will be assigned a locker outside the testing area.
Pearson VUE staff will log you into your assigned computer workstation and verify your exam type.
Before your exam begins, you will see some reminders about examination rules and security from the ABPMR. You’ll also be able go through a self-paced computerized tutorial to become familiar with the format and procedures for completing the exam. Time spent on the tutorial is not deducted from the time allotted for the exam, and the system allows up to 15 minutes to complete the tutorial. You may also complete this tutorial online before the exam (requires a Windows computer).
Digital Scratch Pad
If you wish to take notes during the exam, a digital scratch pad will be available on your workstation.
While taking the exam, please remain in your seat and refrain from making any noises that might disturb other candidates. Eating and drinking are prohibited in the examination room. If desired, you can ask Pearson VUE staff for earplugs to help reduce any distractions.
- Taking Breaks During the Exam
There are two kinds of breaks during ABPMR examinations: scheduled and unscheduled.
Both types are allowed, but there are specific rules and guidelines for each one.
A scheduled break usually occurs over the lunch hour or after completing one section of a multi-section exam. When taking a scheduled break:
- You may leave the building or site if desired
- Confirm with Pearson VUE staff what time you are expected to return to continue the exam
- If you are away for more than the time allotted for the scheduled break, the additional time away will be deducted from the remaining exam time
- If you are more than 15 minutes late, you will not be able to take the rest of the exam
- You will undergo security measures again when you return, including checking two forms of ID and palm-vein pattern
ABPMR allows unscheduled breaks during any examination. When taking an unscheduled break:
- Raise your hand and wait for Pearson VUE staff to assist you
- The Pearson VUE staff will set your testing computer workstation to “break” mode
- You must leave the testing room for all breaks; your palm vein pattern will be captured as you leave
- The exam clock will not stop while you are away
- You are not allowed to leave the building for any reason
- You are permitted to access personal items you stored in your locker ONLY if necessary — for example, if you need to take medication at a specific time
- You may NOT access your mobile phone, electronic devices, study notes, study guides, or any other exam-related materials
- If you access any of these items during an unscheduled break, Pearson VUE staff will prevent you from re-entering the examination room and the ABPMR will investigate your conduct pursuant to our exam security policies
- Your palm vein pattern will be recaptured when you re-enter the testing room
- Notes on Exam Content and Procedures
You’ve been studying the principles and skills you need to know for the exam, but how will the information be presented? Here are a few notes:
Each exam consists of multiple-choice questions only. Each question has four options (A-D) with only one best answer.
Illustrations or Videos
Illustrative materials, such as tables, graphs, medical images, videos, and photographs may accompany some questions and will be displayed on the screen with the question.
Be aware that all ABPMR examinations use the generic names of pharmaceuticals rather than brand names.
Marking and Reviewing
As you proceed through the exam, you will have the option to mark specific questions for later review. As you complete a section of the exam, a review screen will display a list of the questions you have completed, marked for review, or left incomplete. You can return to a specific question or review all the questions at this point. Click “End Review” to complete the section.
On your computer screen during the exam, you will see a clock indicating your time remaining for that section or exam. At the end of the allotted time, the computer will lock you out of the current section.
If an exam has more than one section (i.e., a morning and afternoon section), it will not be possible to return to a previous section once you have completed it.
- After Exam Day
Exam results typically are released six to eight weeks after an exam administration. You will be notified by email when results are viewable electronically (by logging into your ABPMR.org account).
Following an exam, Pearson VUE securely transmits the raw data from all candidates to the ABPMR. This raw data is subjected to rigorous statistical and psychometric analysis before exam results are released.
For a detailed explanation of all the steps involved in scoring and validating an examination, see our News Center article, “Why Exam Results Take Weeks to Release.”
This post-exam process ensures the reliability and validity of examination performance and candidate scores. This process helps us accomplish our mission to protect the public by demonstrating that the board certification credential means something—that these physicians are set apart from their colleagues by meeting the mark for medical knowledge and judgement set by the field.
For more details on the validity of examination performance on the ABPMR Part I Examination, please check out the ABPMR's paper on the topic from the PM&R Journal.