Examination of Persons with Disabilities

  • Note: This policy applies only to ABS examinations for initial certification. Accommodations for in-training exams are at the discretion of the program and do not require ABS approval. Examinees for initial certification who are lactating mothers or have a medical condition that requires a special accommodation at the testing center, please see our Examination Accommodations policy.

I. Overview

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable laws, the American Board of Surgery provides appropriate accommodations to its examinations for individuals with documented disabilities who demonstrate a need for accommodations. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and accompanying regulations define a person with a disability as someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, seeing, hearing, or learning. The purpose of documentation is to validate that the applicant is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act as a disabled individual. Comprehensive information by a qualified professional is necessary in order for the ABS to understand the nature and extent of the applicant's disability and the resulting functional impairments that limit access to ABS examinations. Documentation also enables the ABS to provide appropriate accommodations for such a disability.

The purpose of accommodations is to provide equal access to the American Board of Surgery testing program. It is important to note that the objectives of the written and oral certification examinations are different: The written examination tests the examinee's fund of cognitive information relevant to surgery; the oral examination tests the ability to utilize that knowledge in time-sensitive technical and judgmental situations related to the proper management of a broad spectrum of surgical conditions. Therefore, no candidate shall be excused from either the written or oral examination or offered a modification that would compromise either examination's ability to test accurately the skills and knowledge it is designed to measure. Similarly, no auxiliary aid or service will be provided that will fundamentally alter either examination or will result in an undue burden to the American Board of Surgery.

The essential nature of the oral examination is to evaluate a candidate's ability to promptly and efficiently address clinical situations and make treatment decisions under real-world conditions. Numerous situations in surgery, both in the diagnostic arena with emergencies, and in the operating room when encountering unexpected events, require rapid decision making and the analytical skill to quickly evaluate alternatives. The oral examination is designed to test a candidate's ability to make similar decisions under similar time constraints. An extended time accommodation would therefore alter the essential nature of the oral certification examination.

An individual requesting accommodations should submit a written request with the online examination application via their ABS portal. In order to allow sufficient time for a thorough review of all documentation material, the request with complete documentation must be received by the published application deadline for the examination in question. No requests for test accommodations after this date will be accepted.

The American Board of Surgery strictly adheres to a policy of confidentiality and does not disclose names of applicants with disabilities or information concerning the application or accompanying documentation.

II. Procedure for Requesting Accommodation

An applicant who wishes to request modification of the examination procedures of the American Board of Surgery on the basis of disabilities should complete the following steps:

A. Review the applicable documentation guidelines included in sections III, IV and V of this policy (see link to complete policy below) and share them with the professional who will be preparing your documentation.

B. Complete the Questionnaire for ABS Applicants Requesting Test Accommodations form (see link to form below).

C. Upload documentation according to this policy's guidelines of the disability and your need for accommodation with the questionnaire and your examination application via your ABS portal.

Please ensure that you are submitting complete documentation as required by this policy. Incomplete documentation will delay processing of your request.

D. Your questionnaire and accompanying documentation of disability must be received no later than the published application deadline for your examination. No requests for test accommodations after this date will be accepted.

Updated: April 2022