Exam Day

Part II Examination

Exam Logistics

If you've passed Part I of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation certifying examinations, congratulations—it's now time to move on to Part II.

As the final step to earning your board certification in physical medicine and rehabilitation, the ABPMR Part II Examination goes beyond a test of knowledge.

Rather than selecting from a set of options as in the Part I Examination, Part II candidates apply the medical knowledge they’ve accumulated over their training to manage specific patient scenarios in an interactive setting.

The Part II Examination tests how a candidate applies their medical knowledge in the competencies taught in residency training, including data acquisition, problem solving, patient management, systems-based practice, and interpersonal and communication skills.

What to Expect

Your Part II Examination

  • Before the Exam
    • Apply to Take the Exam

      The ABPMR Part II Examination is administered virtually via video conferencing software.

      Sign In to Apply

      Apply for the Part II Examination by signing into your physician homepage. The system will walk you through the process of submitting required documents and fees before the deadline.

      Schedule Notice

      When the schedule is finalized, you will receive a Part II Schedule Notice via email which includes the date and time of your examination.

    • Virtual Exam Setup

      Your Equipment

      To take the virtual exam, you will need the same equipment you might use for virtual meetings or video conferencing:

      • A computer with an internal or external webcam
        • You must be able to pan the room with your webcam
      • Earbuds or headphones with built-in microphone
      • A fast, reliable internet connection

      A laptop or desktop computer is required for the examination. Tablets and smartphones are not qualified testing devices and are not allowed in the exam room.

      Find a testing space in a quiet, distraction-free location, either in your home or in an office with a door.

      Systems Check

      The ABPMR will send information before your exam date with instructions on performing a comprehensive system and software check. Performing this check will allow you to troubleshoot any issues with the equipment, software, and internet connection you plan to use for the exam so you have time to resolve them in advance. This simple check has the potential to avoid unnecessary technology-related stress on the day of the exam.

    • Prepare for the Exam

      View Videos

      Watch the sample vignette videos to practice managing a vignette from start to finish. These videos present the patient case (vignette) domain-by-domain with instructions to pause after each question to consider your answers. Then, the video goes back through the vignette, discussing in detail what examiners are looking for within each domain.

      Tips for How to Approach the Exam

      When preparing for the exam, we recommend that you practice different patient management scenarios with a mentor or study partner. Keep these tips in mind for how to approach the exam:

      • Approach the examination systematically. Be thorough and clear about the specific information you are requesting, as well as the procedures or actions you will take.
      • Keep answers specific. Focus on responding to questions with relevant, accurate, and content-appropriate statements.
      • Speak precisely and at a moderate pace. Examiners document your answers in their notes. In order that your answers can be accurately documented, do not speak too quickly.
      • Listen to the examiner’s cues. During the examination, you will give and receive information. The cues from the examiner are intended to give you the information necessary to manage the patient. The examiner will not ask trick questions. All examiner information is pertinent and designed to guide you through the examination.
      • Know that unavailable information is unnecessary to manage the case. If you ask for specific information, such as results of a test or findings of a physical examination, and the examiner states that information is not available, simply proceed to manage the patient as you normally would without that piece of information. You can trust that the unavailable information is not needed to manage the patient.

      Exam Scoring

      Your performance on each vignette is evaluated in five independently scored domains:

      • Data acquisition
      • Problem solving
      • Patient management
      • Systems-based practice
      • Interpersonal and communication skills

      Read these in-depth descriptions of each domain’s performance criteria to help you prepare.

      Preparation Tips

      Check out the Part II Prep Tips PDF for our recommendations for studying and preparing, including examiner advice for candidates.

  • On Exam Day
    • Prepare Your Space

      Final Internet and Systems Check

      An hour or two before your exam start time, check your internet speed to ensure a strong, consistent connection. You may want to ask any other members of your household to refrain from using the internet during your exam time to decrease the possibility of bandwidth issues. Perform a quick final check of your webcam, microphone, and headphones to be sure they are all in working order too.

      If you are using a laptop for the exam, we recommend it be fully charged and connected to a power source throughout the exam.

      Clear Your Space

      At the start of your exam, the proctor will ask you to scan your room with your webcam. Ensure all notes, textbooks, and study materials are out of the room you’re using and place your phone and other electronics in a separate room before you begin.

      When you start your exam, the only items on your desk should be your computer, keyboard, mouse, two sheets of blank scratch paper (one for each session), and a couple of writing utensils.

      Remove Distractions

      No other people or pets are allowed in the room where you’re taking the exam. In order to reduce possible distractions, you may wish to arrange for pets, family members, roommates, or office mates to be out of your home or office building until after your exam is over. Unexpected interruptions may affect your concentration during the exam, so think about possibilities and make arrangements if necessary.

      Dress Professionally

      Professional business attire (coat and tie or suit) is strongly recommended for the examination.

    • Checking In

      Arrive Early

      Plan to click the link provided in your instructions at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time to allow time for any last-minute technical issues to be resolved. Initially, you may be the only person in your meeting; however, a proctor will join you soon after. You will stay in the same meeting room for the duration of your exam.

      Recording Begins

      For exam security and quality assurance, the video conferencing software will automatically record all audio and video as soon as you enter the virtual meeting room. The recording will continue for the duration of your exam.

      Don’t Blur Your Background

      Video conferencing software sometimes allows participants to blur or change their background. For exam security, please keep your actual background visible at all times.

      Close All Other Applications

      After you are signed into the video conferencing software, please close all other programs and applications on your computer for exam security.

      Staff Check-In

      During the 30 minutes before your exam start time, an ABPMR staff member will enter the room and provide a brief orientation and reminder of exam policies, as well as performing any final systems checks.

      ID Check

      During the check-in process, the ABPMR staff member will ask you to show a government-issued ID with a photograph to the webcam so you can be positively identified. Your name should match the name in your ABPMR profile. Please contact the ABPMR ahead of your exam if you need to make any changes to your name.

      Room Scan

      For exam security, the ABPMR staff member will ask you to use the webcam on your device to complete a room scan showing you have no notes, books, additional electronic devices, or other materials in the room with you. Health-related items, such as eyeglasses or hearing aids, are allowed.

      Wait for Examiners to Arrive

      Once you have completed check-in with the ABPMR staff member, they will leave and notify your examiners that you are checked in and prepared for your exam. The proctor will remain in the room and the recording will continue. At the scheduled time, your two examiners will arrive and begin your 50-minute exam session.

      If you recognize one of your examiners or have other conflict of interest concerns once they arrive, notify your proctor immediately.

    • Test-Taking Tips

      Based on their extensive experience administering the Part II Examination, ABPMR Part II examiners have these tips for candidates:

      Approach the Examination Systematically

      Be thorough and clear about the specific information you are requesting, as well as the procedures or actions you will take. Don’t take a scattershot approach; instead, stay focused on the patient case and take the opportunity to showcase your patient management skills.

      Keep Answers Specific, Yet Complete

      Focus on providing relevant, accurate, and appropriate answers to questions. Offering every possibility that comes to mind may not reflect your comprehension of the specific issues; target your responses to the scenario at hand and focus on concise yet complete answers.

      Speak Precisely and at a Moderate Pace

      Examiners may take notes on your responses as you are speaking. In order that your answers can be accurately documented, speak at a moderate pace. If you go too quickly, the examiners may ask you to slow down.

      Know the Examiner’s Role

      Part II examiners are there to evaluate your knowledge and skills, giving you only the information necessary to manage the patient. The examiner will not ask trick questions or lead you down the wrong path. All examiner-provided information is pertinent and designed to guide you through the examination.

      Be Prepared to Offer Context

      Throughout the domains, the examiners may ask you why you gave a particular answer. This isn’t an indication that you’ve done anything wrong; in order to assess your knowledge and skills accurately, they sometimes need to understand the thought process behind your answers. Provide the reasons and rationale behind your answers as best you can.

      Know What To Expect from Your Examiners’ Responses

      The ABPMR instructs examiners to respond in the same way to all candidates, including limiting non-verbal feedback. This is to ensure the Part II Examination is administered fairly and uniformly. Expect your examiners to:

      • Give minimal feedback and responses. Examiners are coached not to give feedback or respond in any way (e.g., nodding or smiling) that would cue candidates that they are, or are not, on the right track. Sometimes candidates take this lack of response personally or mistake it for hostility, but this approach ensures a uniform and fair exam experience for all candidates.
      • Interrupt or move the conversation to the next domain. Examiners, not candidates, are tasked with keeping good time and ensuring candidates complete all required patient vignettes. Examiners move candidates along so that all domains are covered and candidates do not spend unnecessary extra time on any one section. It is to your advantage to allow your examiner to set the pace and move you along when needed.
    • Break During the Exam

      Break Between Exam Sessions

      There will be one 10-minute break between your two 50-minute exam sessions. Feel free to leave the room to use the restroom or get some water between your two sessions.

      Webcam Remains On During Break

      During the break, you may step away from your computer but you’ll remain in your virtual exam room with your camera on for the entire 10 minutes. The recording will continue and the proctor will also remain in the room. At the scheduled time, the next two examiners will enter the meeting room and start the second session.

      Do Not Access Notes or Study Materials During Break

      Just like the in-person examination, the ABPMR prohibits accessing or consulting any notes or study materials, on paper or electronically, during the examination—this includes during your break. Do not jeopardize something you’ve worked so hard for just to take a peek at notes.

      Return From Break On Time

      It is your responsibility to be back at your computer before the 10-minute break is over, ready and waiting for your next examination session to begin. If you need to leave the room to use the restroom during the break, return quickly.

    • Technical Issues

      Technical Issues During the Exam

      If you have technical issues that are not under your control just before or during the exam, such as an internet or power outage, you must inform the ABPMR immediately by calling 507-282-1776.

  • After the Exam Day

    Ending the Exam

    After you complete your second 50-minute exam session, congratulations, you’re done with your exam! Your examiners and proctor will thank you and you can close the video conferencing software.

    Email with Survey Link

    After your exam, you will receive an email from the ABPMR reminding you of the binding agreements you signed, as well as a link to a post-exam survey. We encourage you to complete the survey; the board seriously considers your feedback.

    Exam Results

    Exam results typically are released six to eight weeks after an exam administration. You will be notified by email when your result and score report are viewable electronically by signing into your abpmr.org account.

    Exam results are not given via telephone, fax, or email. Candidates are asked to not contact the ABPMR office regarding results until eight weeks after the exam.

    Successful completion of both the Part I and Part II Examinations and satisfactory completion of other ABPMR requirements will result in “certified” status with the ABPMR. New diplomates will receive a certificate and are automatically enrolled in the ABPMR Continuing Certification Program.


    Candidates who pass the exam will receive their certificates approximately four to five months after the exam.