Each year, hundreds of practicing physicians write thousands of questions for ABIM’s Certification and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exams. These questions undergo a rigorous review and testing process to ensure relevancy and fairness in order to help candidates and diplomates know that their medical knowledge is current.
As ABIM evolves its MOC program to include the Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment (LKATM)—launching in 12 specialties in 2022, followed by four more in 2023—we are also restructuring our test development process to better align with best practices and allow for more physician participation.
Exam Committee members currently write and review questions for the Certification and traditional, 10-year MOC exams and the Knowledge Check-In (which is being retired at the end of 2021). The LKA will require significantly more questions, so in 2020 ABIM expanded Item-Writing Task Forces to meet this demand. These volunteer physicians develop questions through prototyping and modeling.
A small group of experienced item writers, the Approval Committee, was created for each discipline to review, revise, and approve questions.
A second group of experienced item writers, Mentors, was also added to the process to guide new Task Force members as they research and write questions. Mentors can provide early feedback and support for those who are new to item writing.
This new structure will be expanded in January 2022 for initial certification and traditional MOC exams, when new Item-Writing Task Forces, Approval Committees and Mentors will be added for every subspecialty.
“The transition to independent item writing and Approval Committees will allow participation of a larger number of diplomates in the item-development process, separating question development from question review,” said Andrea Russo, ABIM Approval Committee member and Chair-elect of the ABIM Cardiovascular Board. “This will allow reviewers to look at the content of the question with a fresh perspective, without having the original question writer in the room during review and approval. This should further improve the quality and relevance of questions to clinical practice.”
The new system not only allows for greater accountability, it adds dozens of physicians to the process.
“The Item-Writing Task Force is a great opportunity for practicing physicians, who know what’s most relevant based upon what they see every day, to help shape the content of exams and ensure that it is relevant to the real-world practice of medicine,” said Bruce Leff, Chair of the ABIM Council and an ABIM Item-Writing Task Force mentor.
As ABIM moves into this new structure, there will be many opportunities for physicians to join the Item-Writing Task Force. You know what’s most relevant in practice, and you can help shape the content of the exams—advancing the profession and ensuring that patients who see board certified physicians are getting care from someone whose knowledge has been tested and validated by an independent organization.
If you would like to join ABIM’s Item-Writing Task Force, please visit the Item-Writing Task Force page.
We thank all current ABIM Mentors and Approval Committee Members for their ongoing work.