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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I become Board Certified?  I thought I became board certified when I took my state and national boards.

Passing the NBEO exam, while a commendable achievement, does not indicate board certification.  The National Board of Examiners in Optometry has stated that, according to its 1998 board policy, “Passing any current National Board examination, including the TMOD examination or any combination of current National Board examinations, is not equivalent to ‘board certification.’”

By going through the voluntary process of becoming Board Certified, our Diplomates demonstrate competence beyond entry level.  By attaining American Board of Optometry Board Certification and enrolling in the Maintenance of Certification program, our Diplomates declare their lifelong commitment to quality patient care.

For further information on this subject, contact us.

2. Is Board Certification mandatory, or will it be in the future?

Board Certification is strictly voluntary.  The American Board of Optometry cannot predict the future of health care or insurance requirements and, therefore, cannot determine if board certification in optometry will be required by some organizations or insurance programs in the future.

However, for those who want to commit to a program of study and ongoing learning that can only improve patient care, Board Certification and ABO Maintenance of Certification are an option. Contact us for more information.

3.  Is the Board Certification program accredited?

The American Board of Optometry’s Board Certification program achieved National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accreditation in 2012.

This accreditation serves as independent validation that the program meets or exceeds NCCA’s standards regarding purpose, structure, governance, psychometric foundation, policies and procedures.  Organizations earning NCCA accreditation demonstrate a high level of commitment to quality and integrity in professional certification.  For more information, visit www.credentialingexcellence.org/ncca.

4.  How is the Board Certification program governed?

It is overseen by a 10-member Board of Directors from across the nation, representing the field of optometry and the public.  The Board includes representatives nominated by the American Board of Optometry’s four founding organizations; several at-large members; and a public member from a field outside optometry.

5. How much does Board Certification cost? How can I pay for it?

The initial application fee is $300 (non-refundable), which covers administrative expenses and the cost of validating your background information. The Board Certification exam is currently $950. There is a reduced fee for recent graduates and residents. Please contact our office to see if you qualify for the reduced fee. The annual maintenance fee for American Board of Optometry Diplomates is $225 (effective Jan. 1, 2017).

Payment is made electronically. The American Board of Optometry accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover credit and debit cards. Checks are also accepted.

6. What is the first step in becoming an American Board of Optometry Diplomate?

Applying to become an Active Candidate is the first step. Visit the Get Certified tab on the website, click the Apply Now button, and complete all four pages of the application.  This will initiate the verification process.

7. How will I know when I am an Active Candidate?

Processing an application can take up to 30 days. While the American Board of Optometry usually verifies initial applications in less time, the entire process of primary source verification with several different agencies, schools and record offices can take several weeks. Once their information is finalized, applicants receive an e-mail informing them of their status as Active Candidates. If you have not heard from the American Board of Optometry within 30 days after applying, you can log in to your Learning Plan page to review your progress.

8. Can you verify my Continuing Education credits from ARBO?

The American Board of Optometry cannot verify a candidate’s CE credits from ARBO’s OE Tracker system. You must submit your own CE courses through the MyTracker portal, one at a time or as a block (e.g., all the hours you accumulated at one conference).

9. Will I be notified when my Post-Graduate requirements have been verified?

Candidates are notified by e-mail once their post-graduate requirements have been verified. This can take up to 30 days.  Verifying the initial application also can take up to 30 days, so for some applicants, it may be up to 60 days after the application date before they can register for the exam.

10. How often is the examination given?

The Board Certification exam is offered twice annually, in January and July. Refer to page two of your Board Certification Examination Candidate Guide for application and post-graduate requirements’ due dates for exams.

11. If I register to take the exam but am unable to sit for it, will I receive a refund?

The Examination Registration Fee can be refunded, but is subject to the following rules:

Candidates can cancel or change an exam date or location 31 or more days before the original exam date with no change or cancellation fee.

If a candidate cancels or changes an exam date or location 7 to 30 days before the original exam date, there is a $25 change fee payable to Prometric, the American Board of Optometry’s testing partner.

If a candidate cancels an exam fewer than 7 days before the original exam date, there is a $200 cancellation fee payable to the American Board of Optometry before a registration refund can be issued. Attempting to change a date or location fewer than 7 days before the original exam date automatically results in cancellation, and the $200 cancellation fee applies. Contact our office for additional details.

The $300 Application Fee cannot be refunded.

12. Where can I take my Board Certification exam? Can I take it online?

Candidates are required to take the Board Certification exam at an authorized Prometric Testing Center.  It is not available online.

13. Can I view seat availability for specific exam dates before paying?

You can visit the Prometric website to check seat availability.  Click the “Locate a Test Center” button, select a state, then click “Next.” Enter your ZIP code and click “Search.”  Click  “Availability” for seat openings at each test center. Available dates are highlighted in blue.

For additional information, see page 4 of your Board Certification Examination Candidate Guide.

14. How do I prepare for the Board Certification exam?

The American Board of Optometry provides a detailed exam outline for candidates, but to avoid conflicts of interest, it does not offer study guides, programs or other preparatory materials for its own exam.  Online and “live” review courses are available, but none is affiliated with the American Board of Optometry.  View the detailed General Practice and Areas of Emphasis outlines for more information.  Selection of Areas of Emphasis sections takes place the day of the exam.

15. What do I need to bring to the exam?

Candidates are required to bring a valid, unexpired, government-issued ID, containing both a photo and signature.

Personal items such as cell phones, watches and writing instruments are not allowed in the exam room.  Lockers are provided for storage of belongings during the exam.

For more details on permissible items, please refer to the Exam Admittance & Testing Partner Information in your Board Certification Examination Candidate Guide.

16. How soon after the exam will I receive my results?  What if I do not pass the exam?

It takes approximately 8 weeks for candidates to receive their examination results.  Each question is analyzed to determine how it performed statistically on the exam.  This detailed psychometric process ensures fairness on each exam, and consistency between examinations from year to year.

Exam results are mailed as soon as they are received from our test partner. American Board of Optometry staff members cannot provide results over the phone or by e-mail.

For other important dates and information, refer to your Board Certification Examination Candidate Guide.

If you do not pass the Board Certification exam, you can retake it. There is no limit to the number of times a qualified candidate can retake the exam. However, full exam fees are charged each time.

17.  Do I have to participate in the Maintenance of Certification program?   How long am I Board Certified?

You must participate in the Maintenance of Certification phase, the most important part of any board certification program.  Board Certification is valid for 10 years, assuming that you keep current in the Maintenance of Certification program.

Maintenance of Certification requires a valid therapeutic license, continuing education, Self-Assessment Modules (SAMs) and Performance in Practice Modules (PPMs), as well as payment of the annual maintenance fee. Currently, the annual maintenance fee is $195 (as of Jan. 1, 2015), and it includes the required SAM or PPM.

For more information, visit the Maintain Board Certification tab on the American Board of Optometry website.

18. How can I get my Board Certificate professionally framed?

Click here to download a PDF order form.