Does Delay in Taking the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Certification Examinations Affect Passing Rates?

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The objective of this study was to examine whether a delay in initially taking the Part I or Part II American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation certification examinations influences the score or passing rates of candidates and whether enrollment in a subspecialty fellowship influences performance on the Part II certification examination.


This was a retrospective review of first-time candidates taking the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation initial certification examinations from 2010 to 2014.


Passing rates declined as candidates delayed the examination past the time of initial eligibility. Passing rates for Part I were as follows (mean [95% confidence interval]): no delay, 91% (89%–94%); 1-yr delay, 68% (56%–82%); and more that 2 yrs’ delay, 59% (55%–68%). For Part II, passing rates were as follows: no delay, 90% (85%–94%); 1-yr delay, 83% (72%–94%); and more than 2 yrs’ delay, 68% (50%–83%). Those completing an accredited fellowship performed better (92% pass rate) on the Part II examination than did those who did not (81% pass rate), but they also had higher final year evaluations from their residency program directors.


It seems preferable to take both Part I and Part II examinations as soon as one is eligible. Enrollment in an accredited fellowship may be associated with a higher chance of passing the examination.

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