Pediatric Surgery Qualifying Exam

  • The Pediatric Surgery Qualifying Examination (PSQE) is offered annually as the first of two exams required for board certification in pediatric surgery. The exam consists of about 200 multiple-choice questions designed to assess a surgeon's cognitive knowledge of pediatric surgery. See also the exam's content outline (pdf).
  • It is a one-day exam lasting approximately 5 hours and is held at computer-testing facilities across the U.S. The exam is administered in three 90-minute sessions, with optional 10-minute breaks between sessions. Once a session has concluded, you will not be able to revisit those questions.
  • Results are posted approximately 4 to 8 weeks after the exam; you will be notified by email when they are available. The exam's contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disclosed in any manner.
    Next Exam: September 17, 2024
    Application Deadline: July 1 (initial deadline); July 15 (late deadline)

General Requirements

It is expected that trainees will meet all of the requirements listed. To be eligible for this exam, applicants must:

  • Accredited Program: Have satisfactorily completed a training program in pediatric surgery accredited by the ACGME or the RCPSC.
  • Training Time: Have acquired no fewer than 96 weeks of full-time clinical activity over the two years of the training program. See Leave Policy for further details.
  • Responsibility: Have obtained increasing levels of responsibility during pediatric surgery training, including serving as chief resident for a 12-month period.
  • Operative Log: Submit an operative experience report as surgeon and assistant surgeon that is deemed acceptable to the ABS, not only as to volume, but as to spectrum and complexity of cases. Cases must be from the applicant's fellowship and verified by the program director.

    - Abdominal - 120
    - Thoracic - 50
    - Trauma Critical Care - 20 operative, 90 non-operative
    - Oncology - 25
    - Head and Neck/Endocrine/GU/Anorectal - 50
    - Endoscopy - 30
    - TA - 50 minimum (common cases); maximum 100 cases

  • PALS: Successfully complete the Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) course. PALS is offered through both the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross, and covers the management of critically ill infants and children. Applicants must submit documentation of successful course completion with their application.
    The course must have been completed within three (3) years of the Qualifying Examination date.
  • Certification/Continuous Certification: Be currently certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery and in compliance with the ABS Continuous Certification Program.
  • Professional Activity: Be actively and primarily engaged in the practice of pediatric surgery as indicated by holding full surgical privileges in this discipline at an accredited health care institution, or be currently engaged in pursuing additional graduate education in another recognized surgical specialty. An exception to this requirement is active military duty.
  • Medical License: Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada. Applicants are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
  • Adhere to the ABS Ethics and Professionalism Policy.

Application Process

  • Individuals who meet ABS requirements may apply for the exam through the online application process, which is posted in early spring (see How to Apply). After your application is approved, you will receive an email with instructions on how to register for this year's exam.
  • Once you complete registration and submit the examination fee, it will take up to five business days to process. Following processing, an Exam Admission Card/Authorization Letter with instructions on how to schedule your exam center directly with Pearson VUE will then be posted on your Exam Records and Results page.
  • Active duty military personnel who may encounter difficulty taking the exam due to their service should contact the ABS as soon as possible. Please see How to Apply for information about other exam accommodations.
Exam Registration/Scheduling
  • After registering for the exam, an Exam Admission/Authorization Letter will be posted to the applicant’s ABS portal within 2-5 business days. The Exam Admission/Authorization letter will not be mailed or emailed. Once posted, applicants will need to log on to their portal to access the Exam Admission/Authorization letter in order to schedule a test center with Pearson VUE immediately.
  • The ABS provides Pearson VUE with the applicant’s mailing address that is on file at the time of registration. If this information is not updated, an incorrect mailing address will be transmitted to Pearson VUE. To facilitate the best exam center scheduling experience with Pearson VUE, applicants should ensure that the ABS has a current mailing address at the time of registration.
  • If requesting accommodations, applicants must have submitted the appropriate forms and documentation and have obtained ABS approval prior to registering for the examination. Registering and scheduling an exam center without prior ABS approval will result in an examination appointment without accommodations.
  • Be advised that testing centers have limited capacity and may fill up well before the exam date, particularly in urban areas. Applicants should contact Pearson VUE as soon as the admission letter is posted to the ABS portal to reserve space at a local testing center. If applicants delay, they will likely have to travel outside of the local geographical area in order to schedule the exam.

Exam Opportunities

  • Candidates who completed training in the 2019-2020 academic year or thereafter are offered up to 4 opportunities within 4 consecutive years to pass the exam. If you decide not to take the exam in a given year, it is a lost opportunity as the four-year limit is absolute.
  • During the four-year period, examinees who postponed or were unsuccessful will be able to register for the next exam without completing a new application; the original application will suffice.
  • Individuals who exhaust their four-year admissibility period should contact the ABS regarding the readmissibility requirements in effect at that time.

Pediatric Surgery Certifying Exam

Upon successful completion of the Pediatric Surgery Qualifying Exam, you will be admissible to the Pediatric Surgery Certifying Exam, an oral exam, and will be contacted with registration information for the next exam.

For specific inquiries, please send an email to the exam coordinator.