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Cognitive Expertise Secure Exam (Part 3)

The Maintenance of Certification (MOC) examination measures diplomates' knowledge in their specialty without the use of reference materials. Up until 2003 it was a take-home, open-book examination, but the format changed by requirement of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). This change came in response to concerns expressed by the public that the Boards did not actually know who was sitting for the take-home examination. The only way to ensure an honest, objective evaluation of knowledge was to require testing in a secure, proctored environment.

The secure examination is designed to measure the knowledge base that sets certified pediatricians apart from family practitioners, pediatric nurse clinicians and other noncertified practitioners. It is designed to assure the public that diplomates are up to date on the latest information and best practices, and are qualified to offer children the best possible medical care.

As the science of assessment advances, the ABP is pilot testing a new approach to assessment of cognitive expertise, MOCA-Peds. Learn more about the MOCA-Peds pilot.

The secure examination is:

  • Comprised of approximately 200 multiple-choice questions.
  • Delivered in two timed sections, each section being two hours in length.
  • Administered at computer-based testing centers.
  • Required every 10 years, with registration opening January 1 each year.

You have the option to test early. Upon passing an exam early, your next exam due date will be recalculated and will then be due 10 years from when you passed. For example, if you are due to take your exam in 2018 but pass your exam early in 2016, your next exam will then be due in 2026. Requests should be sent to

The MOC process provides the diplomate with one MOC examination application at no additional cost. Diplomates holding more than one ABP certification, and those needing to submit a re-application due to unsuccessful examination results or failure to take their examination as scheduled, will be subject to additional charges.

MOC fee schedule

Diplomates may retake the examination as often as logistically possible.

MOC examination administration dates, registration deadlines and information 

To reapply for an examination, log into ABP Portfolio.