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ABIM Blueprints: What are They and How are They Created?

April 15, 2023  |  Posted by ABIM  |  Uncategorized

Before ABIM creates any questions (also called items) for an assessment, several things happen behind the scenes. First, a review of potential topics for the exam is conducted. ABIM governance, physicians, relevant societies, and organizations may weigh in on what they believe is important for physicians to know in current practice in that specialty. The information gathered is used to create a blueprint.

A blueprint provides a clear guide to content (i.e., topics) and the relative percentages that will be covered on an assessment. Blueprints within a discipline are similar for Certification and for Maintenance of Certification assessments, including the Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment. The information is a great study guide for anyone preparing for an assessment. Find the blueprint for your specialty.

The blueprint review process for each discipline is rigorous. Approval Committees check each blueprint annually, to be sure the topics and terminology are appropriate and current. Updates may be made to reflect changes in practice.

 ABIM surveys diplomates periodically for input on the frequency and criticality of blueprint topics and related clinical tasks. Once this information is collected, the Approval Committee and ABIM staff analyze the results and propose changes that are reviewed and ultimately approved by the relevant Specialty Board.

How does it work?

Once there is an approved blueprint, the Item-Writing Task Force takes over. The topics in the blueprint are assigned to specific item writers – physicians who have expertise in each content area. Each question is mapped to a specific topic and task of the blueprint. Questions are reviewed and revised by members of the Task Force, then sent to the Approval Committee for a final check.

“Using the blueprint as the foundation for the assessment helps provide a stable distribution of content across administrations,” said Suzanne De la Cruz, Director of Test Development Operations. “In addition, basing the assessment on its associated blueprint helps guarantee that questions, and the overall exam, are relevant and appropriate for the discipline.”

ABIM works to ensure that our blueprints reflect what is important in current practice, so our assessments measure the knowledge, skills, and judgement expected of ABIM-certified physicians. ABIM currently is in the process of revamping our blueprint review process to make it even easier for physicians to provide feedback on what is important in their specialty.

Visit our website for more information about blueprints, the blueprint review process or for information on current ABIM Item-Writing Task Force and Approval Committee members. Visit our openings page for more information on opportunities to become involved with ABIM.