Scoring FAQs

FAQs About Scoring

How is the examination scored?

Your examination score is based on the total number of questions you answered correctly. Candidates are encouraged to answer each question, as no points are deducted for questions answered incorrectly. In addition, the examination does not contain any field test (pretest) questions, and all questions are weighted equally. After administration, statistical analyses are conducted and a small number of questions may be flagged if they do not meet the standards for statistical and psychometric validity. Flagged questions are reviewed by subject matter experts who are Board-certified, practicing pediatricians. If a question is determined to be flawed after content review, it is removed from the examination.

How is the passing score for the examination set?

The passing score is established through a process called standard setting. During the standard setting process, a panel of practicing pediatricians determines the level of knowledge a candidate must demonstrate in order to pass the examination. The standard established is based on a criterion-referenced model and represents a specific standard of performance required. All candidates that meet this absolute standard will pass the examination.

What is a scaled score?

A candidate’s raw score (the total number of questions answered correctly) is transformed into a scaled score for reporting purposes. This transformation is necessary because multiple forms are administered for each of our examinations. Candidates are held to the same passing standard regardless of which form they take, so scaled scores – which take into account any variation among the forms – are reported instead of raw scores. With scaled scores, a direct comparison of performance across forms and administrations can be made.

The reporting scale ranges from 1 to 300, with 180 designated as the passing score. Scores on this scale do not represent raw scores and cannot be used to determine the percent correct (i.e., a 180 on the 300 point scale does not mean that candidates need a score of 60% to pass).

How does the ABP ensure that examination forms are equal?

All examination forms are constructed using the same test blueprint (content outline). Although every attempt is made to ensure that the difficulty level of the various forms is as equivalent as possible, the slight variance may occur due to the inclusion of new questions that have never before been tested. In order to account for any variation among the forms, a statistical process known as equating is applied, which ensures that candidates are not advantaged or disadvantaged by taking one form of the examination over another. Through equating, a given scaled score on the examination will reflect the same level of content mastery regardless of the form administered.

What percentage of questions do I need to answer correctly to pass?

The percentage of questions that a candidate needs to answer correctly is based on the difficulty of the form of the examination taken. Although every effort is made to create forms of an examination that are equivalent in difficulty, some differences may exist after final scoring. Therefore, because the percentage of correct answers required to pass the examination may vary among forms, a specific passing percentage is not available to candidates.

Can I find out the raw score for my examination?

No. Because multiple examination forms are used within and across administrations, the raw score on an examination form is meaningless until it is transformed to a scaled score. For example, answering 160 out of 200 questions correctly on an easy examination form would have a different meaning than answering 160 questions correctly on a harder form. The conversion to a scaled score accounts for these differences making score comparisons across forms meaningful.

Can I find out my score on the various sections of the examination?

No. Sections were implemented simply to allow for scheduled breaks within an examination. Section scores are not computed as part of the final scoring process.

My score was just 1 point below passing. How close was I to passing?

Because multiple forms of the examination are used, “how close” a score of 179 is to passing may vary slightly across forms, but it is likely that between one and five additional questions should have been answered correctly to pass. The ABP will not provide the exact number of questions a candidate answered correctly on a given examination form.

Are repeat test takers scored the same way as those taking the examination for the first time?

Yes. The examination is scored in exactly the same way for all candidates, regardless of whether they are first-time or repeat test takers. All candidates must attain a Total Scaled Score of 180 or higher to pass the examination.

Why are scores of the content areas reported? Do they affect my total score?

Content area scores are provided solely to give candidates a sense of their areas of strength and weakness. For those who fail the examination, the information may provide guidance regarding areas in which remediation is needed. Your Total Scaled Score is not and cannot be calculated from the content area information provided on your score report. Your Total Scaled Score is based solely on the number of questions you answered correctly across the entire examination.

Why is the performance of candidates who passed provided? Does their performance affect whether I pass?

Performance data for passing candidates is provided only for descriptive purposes. These data are not used in determining the passing standard. Whether you pass is based solely on the number of questions answered correctly. If this number meets or exceeds the absolute standard, then you will pass the examination.

How can I be assured that my responses were captured and transmitted accurately?

The ABP works extensively with Prometric to ensure the necessary steps are in place for accurate transmittal of your responses to the ABP. When the ABP psychometric staff performs initial scoring, they compare their results with the response information provided by Prometric to ensure that all data were transferred accurately. This is just one of many quality control procedures that the ABP uses throughout the scoring process.

Why does it take two months to receive my examination results?

After administration of the examination, the ABP follows a number of procedures before releasing scores. First, the psychometric staff conducts preliminary scoring to ensure that all data were transmitted accurately from Prometric. Next, the psychometric staff performs an analysis to verify that each question on the examination is statistically and psychometrically valid. Because there are multiple forms of the examination, the psychometric staff employs equating techniques to ensure that candidates are held to the same passing standard regardless of which form of the examination they took. Candidate responses are also subject to an internal analysis in order to detect potential test integrity/security issues. The accuracy of examination scores is of utmost importance, and the ABP will not release any examination results until all steps in the quality control process have been satisfactorily completed.

May I get my score verified?

No. The ABP has multiple quality control procedures throughout the scoring process to ensure the accurate reporting of examination results. Please see our the previous two FAQs on this page for more information.

May I appeal?

Yes, but the circumstances under which you may appeal are limited. First, if you experience a technical or environmental issue during the administration of the exam that you believe had an impact on your performance, you must have notified the ABP in writing within three business days from the completion of your exam. Please see our Computer-Based Administration Policy (PDF) for specific details.

All such complaints are automatically investigated. Then, if the ABP deems your exam has been compromised, the ABP will invalidate your score and allow you to retake the exam at the next available administration. If, however, the exam was not compromised, your exam result will not be changed. You may, however, appeal this decision. A successful appeal will not reverse a failing grade or alter a score, but might allow you to retake the exam. Please see our Appellate Review Procedure (Appeals) Policy (PDF) for specific details about the ABP’s appeal policy.


FAQs About Post-Examination Process

When do candidates who pass the examination receive their certificates?

Certificates are mailed approximately four months after examination results are made available.

Can I request a reprint of my certificate?

Yes. A diplomate may request a reprint of a certificate by submitting a signed letter requesting a duplicate certificate. Requests should be sent to the American Board of Pediatrics.

Are the names of certified candidates published?

Yes. The names of certified pediatricians, but not their scores, are sent to the appropriate organizations within two months after examination results are made available. The names of certified pediatricians are also published on the ABP Web site approximately seven days after examination results are made available.

What is the effective date of certification for candidates who pass the examination?

The effective date of certification is the last day that the examination was administered during the testing window.

Are scores reported to program directors?

Yes. Examination results will be reported by name and score to a candidate’s program director(s) responsible for the training in the exam area (general pediatrics or the pediatric subspecialty) for use in the evaluation of the training program. Results will not be reported if the candidate applied through a practice pathway. Candidates are informed of this policy in a statement included in the application to sit for the examination. No exceptions will be made.

I failed the examination. How long am I eligible to re-register?

Candidates have seven years from the completion of training to become certified. A time limit policy was established to assure the public that individuals accepted for examination still possess the competencies verified at the completion of training. This policy took effect with the 2014 administrations of the initial certifying examinations in general pediatrics and the subspecialties. If the required training was not completed within the 7-year time frame, the applicant must complete an additional period of supervised practice in an accredited training program in order to regain eligibility to apply for certification.

This includes information about how examinations are scored and how scores are reported. If you have a question about your examination results, please refer to this page. If your question remains unanswered, please address your communication to:

The American Board of Pediatrics
111 Silver Cedar Court
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514-1513

Email for questions about scoring:
Email for all other questions:

Please include your ABP ID # in all correspondence.

***** Please note that the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) requires that all issues encountered on your examination day be reported to the ABP in writing within three business days of your examination date. Therefore, this page does not address technical difficulties or other administration issues experienced at Prometric testing centers.*****