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ABP on track to launch pilot of new MOC exam format in January

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - 11:00

The pilot version of the American Board of Pediatrics’ (ABP) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exam is on schedule to be launched in January 2017. Physicians currently maintaining certification in general pediatrics and who are due to take their exam in 2017 will be eligible to participate in the pilot.

Last summer, the ABP announced that it would introduce a different method for assessing the knowledge of pediatricians as part of MOC. The proposed testing approach would require shorter, more frequent assessment of pediatricians’ knowledge. Within this new platform, test questions would be delivered through the physician’s secure portfolio site via computer or mobile device.

Currently, pediatricians are required to pass an exam every 10 years to maintain their certification. This exam must be taken in a secure testing center. The test includes approximately 200 questions, which must be completed within a four-hour time limit.

The new testing platform is called MOCA-Peds (Maintenance of Certification Assessment for Pediatrics). Decisions about the future of this platform will be based on pilot results. If the pilot is successful, MOCA-Peds will become the summative assessment for MOC Part 3, meaning that a pass/fail decision will be made based on the diplomate’s performance on the test questions over time.

Details are still being worked out, but so far, the ABP expects:

  • Twenty multiple-choice questions will be made available quarterly (every three months).
  • Questions may be answered anytime during the quarter at the diplomate’s convenience, either one at a time, in small batches, or all 20 in one sitting.
  • Time allocated per question may vary based on the amount of information presented.
  • Immediate feedback will be provided, including whether the selected answer was right or wrong as well as references and a brief explanation of the correct answer.  
  • Questions for the pilot will focus on the application of fundamental knowledge used in everyday practice that should not require pre-exam studying or the use of books and online materials while answering. Resources may be used, however, as long as the question is answered during the allocated time.
  • Content will be tailored to inpatient or outpatient settings, depending on the diplomate's practice profile or preference.

Please note: Diplomates due to take their MOC Part 3 exam in 2016 must take (and pass) that exam as originally scheduled to maintain their certification. Diplomates due to take their MOC Part 3 exam in 2017, however, may opt to participate in the MOCA-Peds pilot. Diplomates who participate meaningfully and meet the standards for MOCA-Peds will not be required to sit for the MOC exam in a secure testing center. Diplomates who either choose not to participate or fail to meet the standards for MOCA-Peds will be required to pass the MOC Part 3 exam to remain certified.

In the 2017 pilot, questions, based on 40 learning objectives drawn from the General Pediatrics Content Outline, will reflect the breadth of knowledge required for practice. During the year, the diplomate will receive two questions associated with each learning objective (not necessarily in the same quarter). By having two questions on each objective, diplomates will have the opportunity to demonstrate they learned material they did not previously know or to reinforce the information they did know.

This new platform will also be used to deliver additional questions when topics emerge such as new CDC guidelines or the Zika virus. These additional questions will not be scored and will be used solely to help ensure that diplomates are aware of the important developments in pediatrics. For the pilot version of MOCA-Peds, the ABP will limit this feature to no more than five questions in 2017. 

The ABP is partnering with diplomates in the design of MOCA-Peds. In January 2016, RTI, an external research firm, hosted an open call for pediatricians to participate in diplomate user and focus groups about MOCA-Peds. More than 3,000 diplomates responded and 250-300 diplomates were randomly selected and are now participating in MOCA-Peds user and focus groups. They have given valuable feedback about feasibility, acceptability, functionality, communication, and ways to improve methods and design. These groups will be meeting several more times throughout 2016. Their feedback continues to inform the design of pilot.

As development of the pilot continues, the ABP encourages everyone to stay up-to-date on all the latest news. Subscribe to the ABP Blog and follow the ABP on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. As always, if you have immediate questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at

Check out the ABP Blog for recent posts about MOCA-Peds including ABP is on Track to Launch New Exam Pilot in January 2017as well as What we Know so Far About MOCA-Peds.