7 Things To Know About the ABA Pain Medicine Exam


The Pain Medicine Board Examination, or American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) Certification in Pain Medicine, is a single standardized test of knowledge and skill in pain medication, its application and evaluation.

When is the ABA Pain Medicine Exam?

Applications for the 2024 Pain Medicine examination will be open from June 5, 2024 to July 31, 2024. The 2024 ABA Pain Medicine Exam will be held on September 28, 2024.

How do I apply for the exam?

Individuals with ABA certification, or other boards that are part of the ABMS, can apply for this certification exam through the ABA website. All applicants must have a valid, unrestricted license to practice medicine or osteopathy from a US or Canadian jurisdiction. They must also demonstrate their current pain medicine practice (i.e. that they take part in clinical pain management duties at least once per week for twelve successive months over three years). Applicants must also meet the requirements of the Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology Program (MOCA).

What is covered on the Pain Medicine Board Examination?

This certification covers general points of pain medicine; pain assessment and psychological considerations; the treatment of pain and its methods; clinical pain states and special cases. More specifically, it tests the applicant’s knowledge of the physiology, anatomy and biochemistry of pain transmission, modulation and systems. Other questions on clinical pain research, its procedures, design and ethics may be posed.

The applicant may also require awareness of the effects of gender, sex, culture and other factors in pain perception, assessment and treatment. An understanding of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, toxicity, interactions and indications is also required.

The 4-hour exam has 200 single-best-answer multiple choice questions, the breakdown of which is as follows:

  • General: 50%
    • Background Concepts: 5%
    • Assessment of Pain: 5%
    • Treatment of Pain – Pharmacotherapy: 15%
    • Treatment of Pain – Procedural: 15%
    • Treatment of Pain – Psychological, Physical, and Integrative Therapies: 10%
  • Clinical States: 50%
    • Taxonomy: 1%
    • Chronic Widespread Pain Syndromes: 1%
    • Acute Pain, Pain due to Trauma, and Procedural Pain: 6.5%
    • Musculoskeletal Pain: 12.5%
    • Cancer Pain and Cancer-related Pain: 6%
    • Visceral Pain: 4%
    • Headache and Orofacial Pain: 3%
    • Neuropathic Pain: 8%
    • Special Cases: 8%

How much does the pain medicine exam cost?

First-time examinees will pay $1,800 for their registration. However, those applying for a retake of the exam pay $1,350. Those who register late will pay an additional $500.

How do I study for the pain medicine exam?

A candidate considering registration for this exam may benefit from first downloading and reviewing the ABA’s Pain Medicine Content outline. This gives a thorough overview of the topics to be covered. Textbooks for studying include McGraw Hill Speciality Board Review: Pain Medicine and Beyond Pain: A Comprehensive Pain Board Review For The Pain Management Physician.

Taking practice pain medicine questions can help you prepare for the exam. Utilizing sample pain medicine questions will also allow you to identify trouble areas that you should focus on before test day.

What happens if I fail the boards?

If an applicant achieves a non-passing grade on his or her first attempt, she or he can re-take it. Re-registration fees ($1,350, with an added $500 for each late re-exam registration) must be paid by all repeat applicants.

What do I need to bring on test day for the exam?

On test day, you should come fully prepared after a good nights rest and bring the registration letter from the ABA and an ID showing the applicant’s photograph and signature. Both are required to gain access to the examination area.

However, make sure you leave the following items at home:

  1. Electronics including: watches, times, calipers, monographs, and phones
  2. Study materials including books, note cards, and other resources
  3. Pens and pencils
  4. Purses and briefcases

Phone calls or other communications during the exam are also prohibited.

If you need scratch paper during the exam, the test administrator will provide paper and pens at their disposal for students. You will be given a secure locker to store your belongings.

Ready to start studying? The BoardVitals Pain Medicine Question Bank contains more than 750 Pain Medicine test questions with detailed explanations for both correct and incorrect responses. The Pain Medicine question bank follows the content outline for the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) Pain Medicine Exam. Sign up for a free trial today!

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