FAQs about the Pathology Recertification Exam

Pathology Recertification

Are you preparing for your American Board of Pathology (ABPATH) MOC exam? Here’s a guide to help you navigate through the process. This exam is designed to provide physicians with the appropriate standards to maintain quality care throughout their career.

The Pathology Recertification exam is generally considered to be easier than the initial certification. However, don’t think that you’ll breeze through without properly preparing. It is important to plan on studying for at least a month to properly prepare. (You may also need to plan for additional study time depending on which sub-specialty you choose). The exam is administered 2 times a year – in spring (March) and fall (August).

How much does it cost?

The cost of the pathology MOC exam registration is $700. This fee covers everything, regardless of the number of exams you plan to take (primary and subspecialty).

What does the exam consist of? How long does the exam take?

Each MOC examination (primary and subspecialty) is composed of 150 multiple‑choice questions in the single best answer format. You will have 3.5 hours to answer these questions and complete your exam.

The primary examinations (AP/CP, AP only, and CP only) are modular and diplomates can select modules at the time of the registration that are as relevant as possible to their individual scope of practice. You can find a list of the modules on the ABPATH web site.

Diplomates who hold both a primary and a subspecialty certification have the option to sit for a single examination that includes a 50-question primary certification module (AP and/or CP) and the 150-question subspecialty examination.  The combined primary and subspecialty exam will last 4.5 hours and is graded together as a single 200-question exam for purposes of pass/fail.  A passing score will fulfill the Part III requirement for both certifications for the MOC 10-year cycle.

What is the subject breakdown of the primary recertification exams?

The examination will be based on practical, need-to-know, day-to-day skills and knowledge that a competent practitioner would be expected to possess without access to reference materials.

  • Each exam module contains questions related to:
    • Fundamental practical knowledge.
    • Current and clinically valid practice-related knowledge. Questions will include information new to the field since the diplomate’s last certification or MOC examination.
    • Practice environment including such areas relevant to the module, such as:
    • federal regulations relevant to anatomic and/or clinical pathology
    • CLIA regulations
    • AABB standards for transfusion medicine
    • principles of laboratory management
    • coding and billing
    • quality assurance
    • laboratory accreditation
    • patient safety
    • professionalism and ethics

Here are the ABPATH blueprints for the Primary MOC Recertification exams:

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Combined Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology Exam – 150 Questions (3.5 hours)
Anatomic Pathology Only Exam
Anatomic Pathology Only Exam – 150 Questions (3.5 hours)
Clinical Pathology Only Exam
Clinical Pathology Only Exam – 150 Questions (3.5 hours)
Combined Primary / Subspecialty Exam for diplomates with Multiple Certifications
Combined Primary / Subspecialty Exam for diplomates with Multiple Certifications – 200 Questions (4.5 hours)

Blueprints for all the subspecialty exams can be found on the ABPATH website.

What can I do to prepare for the exam?

There are many ways to prepare for the exam, including textbooks and workbooks, online study guides, group classes and individual prep courses. We recommend McGraw Hill’s specialty board review guide to Anatomic Pathology. Additionally, the American Society for Clinical Pathology offers a self-assessment tool to help you prepare and ABPATH offers a serious of study guides from different special categories. Studies have shown a correlation between preparation and the number of practice questions taken and performance on standardized exams. Prepare with Pathology MOC practice questions from BoardVitals to make the most out of your preparation.

The writing staff at BoardVitals is passionate about medicine, healthcare, and education. We’ve trained over 1.5 million physicians and work with more than 300 top teaching institutions. Learn more about our board review and continuing education products at boardvitals.com.

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