American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Board exams about to make the move to computers

From the November ACP Observer, copyright 2003 by the American College of Physicians.

Starting next year, internists who want to recertify in internal medicine will answer questions on their secure recertification exam using a computer instead of a sharp No. 2 pencil.

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) is moving all its certification and recertification exams to computer-based testing by 2006. The organization is switching its internal medicine recertification exam to a computer format first, in part because of requests from ACP to make the recertification process more accessible to internists.

Computer-based exams can be offered at substantially more locations than paper-and-pencil exams. While the paper-based recertification exam is currently held at 50 locations, the new computer-based version will be offered at up to 200 centers nationwide.

In discussions with the ABIM about the recertification process, the College had identified computer-based testing as one way to make the process easier for internists who want to recertify. Physicians who don't live near a paper-based testing center must currently spend time and money traveling to take the final exam. With ABIM offering the exam in many more sites, the recertification process may be more convenient and less expensive for internists who choose to maintain their certification.

The ABIM's computer-based exams will be held at Pearson Test Centers, a national network of centers that feature individual workstations.

By 2005, all recertification exams as well as board certification exams for subspecialties and added qualifications will also be administered solely via computer. By 2006, the internal medicine board exams will move to computer as well.

The ABIM has developed a tutorial to help internists adjust to its new computer-based testing model. The tutorial offers a guided demonstration and sample questions.

The Web site also gives the dates that the computerized tests will be administered and lists the Pearson testing center nearest you.

Registration for the May 2004 recertification exam begins next month.

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