So, You Failed Your MOC Exam – What next?

Doctor Failing Moc Exam

As a physician, you may have experienced emotions ranging from frustration to fury when it comes to the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process. Physicians have become increasingly enraged over the cost and alleged secretive ranking process of the tests, to the point where the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education(ACCME) withdrew some of its recent changes to the MOC process. Most recently, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) announced that it was collaborating with the American College of Cardiology (ACC), American College of Physicians (ACP) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to develop their own MOC processes and testing.

If you studied for days, weeks and months and spent money on study aids and testing support only to fail the exam, you are not alone. It’s reported that 35 percent of physicians fail the test, only to have to retake it. An increasing number of physicians believe the testing is arbitrary, does not contribute to improved outcomes, keeps grading criteria hidden from assessment and review, and is a process designed to fatten the wallets of those in charge of the CME and MOC processes.

One physician wrote about her incredulity over the MOC testing process and its lack of transparency on a popular blog. She approximated that the total cost of studying for the exam was as follows:

  • Loss of time with my family: priceless
  • MKSAP books: $650
  • Test: $750
  • MOC module: $1600
  • Loss of revenue: $ 3000+.

A column in Modern Medicine called preparing for the exam “…laborious, incredibly time-consuming and ultimately useless”.

MOC is Still Mandatory

Though the protests are building against MOC and some professional associations are taking it upon themselves to redesign the process, for now, they remain a necessary evil. So what do you do if you take the MOC and fail?

  • Reapply to take the exam and pay a fee of $400. Your board certification status remains unchanged for one year.
  • According to the ABIM policy on retaking the MOC exam: Candidates who are unsuccessful on a MOC exam can re-take the exam during any future exam administration. There is no restriction on the total number of opportunities for re-examination.
  • If you fail to pass on the second attempt, (cost for second and subsequent retakes is $775), your status will be changed to “Not Certified”.

Despite the controversy and heated debate regarding MOC, it remains mandatory. Therefore, effective study guides remain essential. It is also important to be well informed about accumulating MOC points and taking CME and other MOC preparatory courses and activities leading up to the exam.   

Want to learn more about CME and MOC requirements? Download our Free eBook, Navigating Continuing Medical Education: A Guide to CME/MOC Requirements.

Deborah Chiaravalloti is an award-winning writer and former hospital executive. Her insider experience helps healthcare clients launch medical procedures, products including artificial intelligence software and knowledge sharing platforms. Deborah writes websites, blogs, opinion pieces, and marketing strategy for elder care, health care consumerism, revenue cycle management (RCM), and the business of healthcare. Her printed pieces have been published and her radio shows syndicated nationally.

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