The American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology (ABMLI) certifies doctoral-level immunologists seeking to direct laboratories engaged in the practice of medical laboratory immunology. ABMLI certification is recognized by federal and state governmental agencies as a significant component toward meeting licensure requirements to direct laboratories engaged in the microbiological diagnosis of human disease. It is recognized under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 final rule and in the 11 states that require licensure: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and West Virginia. 

Once certified, the ABMLI requires its Diplomates to recertify every three years.

UPDATE: The ABMLI will phase out its certification exam; the last exam will be offered in August 2017. The final application deadline was June 1, 2016. Applications are no longer accepted. The ABMLI will continue to serve its Diplomates through recertification, maintaining an active roll of Diplomates and verification of certification status.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has confirmed that it will continue to recognize ABMLI certification as a personnel requirement for high-complexity laboratory directors even though the exam will no longer be offered. Learn more about the phase out. 


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Once all application materials have been received, you will receive an email stating when you will be notified of your application’s review. In general, application results are sent out within two-to-three weeks of an application becoming complete. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis by the Credentials Committee. Once eligible, you must take the exam within one year of approval or a new application will be required. Therefore, you are advised not to apply until you are ready to take the exam. Once approved, you will be sent an email containing instructions for registering for the exam. This includes, selecting your local testing center, your desired date and time, and paying the exam registration fee of $400. The exam registration window opens on June 15 and closes on August 24 of each year. You are advised to register for the exam once it opens to ensure maximum flexibility in selecting at your desired testing location and time.


Exam Information

UPDATE: The ABMLI is phasing out its certification exam; the last exam will be administered in August 2017 at testing centers located around the world. 


The objective is to measure your knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and clinical judgment in subject areas considered necessary for the effective directorship of a laboratory engaged in the practice of medical laboratory immunology.


The exam has 30 case studies, which contain a case history, clinical situation or other problem similar to one that may be faced by a medical immunology laboratory director. Case studies are associated with questions based on major topics involved in medical laboratory immunology. The remaining 170 questions are multiple-choice questions.

Questions are distributed among four broad areas and 24 specific categories that are described below: 

Domain I: Basic Immunologic Mechanisms.
This domain comprises approximately 20% of the exam. Five categories are included under this domain. Suggested topics to study include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Antigens and antibodies. The classes of antibodies, structure and function of antibodies, chemistry of antigen-antibody interactions, determination of affinity and avidity, epitope mapping, generation of diversity and immunogenicity
  • Cells and tissues involved in the immune system. Lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils; cell subpopulations; cell markers; functional differentiation and maturation; role in the immune response; lymph node, spleen, thymus, mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue, bone marrow structure and function, antigen presenting cells (dendritic cells and lymphocytes), and CD proteins
  • Cell cooperation and immune regulation. Cellular interactions among the various cells involved in immune responsiveness; cellular activation, signal transduction; apoptosis; immunization and adjuvants; major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restriction; mechanisms of action of immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory drugs; T regulatory cells, T cell excision circles; cytokines, such as interleukins, interferons, adhesion molecules, chemokines, and growth factors; toll-like receptors (TLR) and killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR)
  • Effector mechanisms. Protective and destructive effects of immunologic reactions on the host, microbial and tumor immunity, autoimmunity, transplantation immunity, immunotherapy, the process of inflammation and the cells involved in inflammation, and the structure and function of complement proteins
  • Mediators. Cytokines, such as interleukins, interferons, chemokines, adhesion molecules and growth factors involved in the immune response, and other soluble mediators


Domain II: Methodology.
This domain comprises approximately 30% of the exam. Six categories are included under this domain. Suggested topics to study include, but are not limited to:


  • Assays involving antigen/antibody reactions. Precipitation, agglutination, flocculation, hemolysis, radioimmunoassay (RIA), enzyme immunoassay (EIA), immunoblots, chemiluminescence, immunofluorescence assays, multiplex bead assays; select methods to use in given circumstances
  • Complement assays. Various procedures to measure concentration and activity of complement components, and specimen collection
  • Phagocyte assays. Types of procedures, appropriate use, specimen collection, controls, calculations, and interpretation of results
  • Cell-mediated immunity assays. In vitro and in vivo assays, including skin tests, proliferation, cytotoxicity, and mediator release assays; advantages and disadvantages of procedures; controls; interpretation of results
  • Molecular biology-based techniques. Principles and performance of blotting techniques, amplication technologies, various DNA- and RNA-based analyses; fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH); microarray technology; advantages and disadvantages
  • Instrumentation. Microscopy, flow cytometry, automated immunoassay systems, and other instruments and equipment used in a clinical immunology laboratory; the use of these instruments, basic understanding of the principles of operation, controls, calibration, and quality assurance related to the procedures


Domain III: Immunodiagnosis and Clinical Laboratory Correlation.
This domain comprises approximately 40% of the exam. Seven categories are included under this domain. Suggested topics to study include, but are not limited to:


  • Infectious diseases. Diagnostic strategies based on disease processes, appropriate selection of tests, timing and analysis of appropriate specimen for disease staging based on immunologic analysis, differential diagnosis/algorithms
  • Autoimmune diseases. Immunologic causes or parameters of various systemic autoimmune diseases (including hemolytic and collagen-vascular diseases) and diseases of various organs; advantages and disadvantages of available diagnostic tests; interpretation of test results, differential diagnosis/algorithms
  • Immunodeficiency disorders. Tests for differential diagnosis of immunodeficiencies, primary and secondary; monitoring and prognostic tests; interpretation of results, differential diagnosis/algorithms
  • Leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and other immunoproliferative disorders. Tests for differential diagnosis of immunoproliferative disorders, monitoring and prognostic tests, interpretation of results, differential diagnosis/algorithms
  • Allergic diseases. Allergen identification, evaluation of therapy
  • Transplantation. HLA system, HLA matching and detection of humoral sensitization, ABO-Rh compatibility, analysis of rejection or tolerance, stem cell enumeration, posttransplant complications and monitoring
  • Tumor markers. Prognosis, staging, monitoring effects of therapy
  • Mediators. Cytokines, such as interleukins, interferons, chemokines, adhesion molecules and growth factors involved in the immune response, and other soluble mediators


Domain IV: Laboratory Management.
This domain comprises approximately 10% of the exam. Six categories are included under this domain. Suggested topics to study include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Assay validation, including cost/benefit analysis
  • Quality assurance and quality control
  • Regulatory and legal issues. Federal laws and agencies (e.g., Clinical Laboratories Improvement Amendments [CLIA], Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], Food and Drug Administration [FDA]; other agencies (e.g., College of American Pathologists [CAP], Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations [JCAHO], American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics [ASHI], Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute [formerly NCCLS])
  • Proficiency testing
  • Laboratory safety. Use of personal protective equipment., hazadarous material handling, disaster preparedness, MSDS sheets
  • Personnel management, including credentialing, training, and competency assessment.


The computer-based exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions with only one correct answer.

You can move forward and back through the questions while examining and are allowed six hours to complete the exam. 


  • Two types of questions are incorporated in the exam:
    • Questions designed to test recall of basic knowledge, direct interpretation of data, or simple synthesis of information
    • Questions that require a higher level of thought process, reasoning skills, or interpretation of data to arrive at the correct answer.
  • In some cases, questions may require calculations. Examples of such questions include assessment of sensitivity, specificity, dilution factors, and cost-accounting results.
  • Questions are updated and reevaluated annually. You should expect to see questions on technical advances or issues that occurred during the past year

Learn more about how a question is developed.

Responsibilities and roster of the Exam Development Committees.


The certification boards of the American College of Microbiology use a criterion-referenced scoring system. 
You are not graded on a curve and do not compete against each other.

Learn more about criterion-referencing, discrimination, and scoring.


Exam results are emailed by November 1 to the email address provided in your Webassessor profile. Please be sure to keep your contact information in your Webassessor profile updated to ensure you receive correspondence from ABMLI.


The ABMLI pass rate is available for 2010-2015.


Applicants have three exam cycles from their approval date to pass the exam. This means that if you do not pass the exam the first time you take it, you can take the exam up to two more times under the same application. You must pay the exam registration fee of $400 each time you register to take the exam. If you fail three times with the same application, a new application and fee is required. The exam will be offered in August 2016, February 2017 and August 2017.


Please plan to arrive at the testing center no more than 15 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time. The check-in process should only take five minutes.

You must bring the following with you to the testing center:

  • Your Test Taker Authorization Code. The proctor cannot launch the test without this code. This code will be included in the confirmation email you are sent when you register for the exam.
  • Two forms of identification, one must be a current, government-issued, photo ID such as:
    • State-issued driver’s license or identification card
    • Passport
    • Military identification
    • National identification card
  • The other can be a non-photo identification such as:
    • Credit card
    • Check cashing card
    • Bank debit card
    • Student ID from an accredited school

Both forms of identification can be a government-issued photo ID.

NOTE: Both forms of ID must show your name exactly as it appears in your Webassessor profile.


Download preparation suggestions and the suggested resources list.


Download sample questions.



The ABMLI requires its certified individuals, Diplomates, to recertify every three years. Diplomates need to complete an application form and must accumulate 150 contact hours of continuing education over three years. The recertification fee is $300 for ASM contributing and premium members and $350 for ASM supporting and non-members. The deadline is January 31. 

For applications not postmarked by January 31, a late fee of $300 for ASM contributing and premium members and $350 for ASM supporting and non-members will be applied.    



How do I verify ABMLI Diplomates?

If you are interested in verifying the certification of an ABMLI Diplomate, email your request to with an authorization of release form signed by the Diplomate.

I used my email address as my login and now my email address has changed. How can I change my login to my new email address?

You need to log in to your account and update the email address field with your current email address. Once you have done this, you will need to submit a request to to change your login to match your new email address.

I am trying to register to take the exam but the dates on the calendar are grayed out and I do not have the option to select an exam time.

If all of the dates in a given month are grayed out, it means that testing center is not available. Check the availability of other testing centers in the area and, if none of them are available in the exam administration window, try expanding your testing center search to include testing centers that are further away. Additionally, you can submit a request to open the testing center in the exam administration window by sending an email to (please include your desired testing center’s name and location and your first, second, and third choices for an exam date in your request). While a request to open a testing center is being processed, examinees are encouraged to schedule their exams at one of the other testing centers to ensure they are able to sit for the exam in the current year.

What if my first choice of a testing center is not available?

You can submit a request to take the exam at your first choice of a testing center and we will do our best to accommodate your request. In case your request cannot be accommodated, however, you are advised to schedule your exam at an alternate testing center to ensure you are able to sit for the exam in the current year.

What if there aren’t any testing centers in my area?

New testing centers are added throughout the year and the list of testing centers posted on our website is updated each month. If there is not a testing center close to you when it is time to register to take the exam, you will need to travel to the nearest testing center to take the exam. Our exams can only be administered at Kryterion testing centers.

Can I reschedule my exam?

Yes. As long as it is 72 hours before your scheduled exam time, you can reschedule your exam by logging into your Webassessor account, clicking on the Details link next to your scheduled exam and clicking on the "Reschedule" button. To reschedule an exam within 72 hours prior to your scheduled exam time, you must contact the ABMLI office (at or 202-942-9257). No refunds will be issued for exams rescheduled within 72 hours of the scheduled exam sitting, and rescheduling an exam within this time frame will result in your having to pay another exam registration fee.

What if I need to cancel my exam registration once it has been scheduled?

To cancel your exam, you must send an email notification of your intent to cancel to In order to be issued a $350 refund for a cancellation, your request must be received by the ABMLI at least five business days prior to your scheduled exam. No refunds will be issued for cancellations within this time frame.

Besides my authorization code and two forms of identification, what else can I bring to the testing center?

You will not be allowed to bring anything into the exam room with you except for your identification. Any other personal items including, but not limited to, bags, purses, wallets, coats, jackets, hats, briefcases, books, mobile devices such as beepers, cellphones and smartphones, calculators, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and watches must be stored outside of the exam room. The testing centers have locked cabinets available to store personal items, should you decide to bring any of these items with you. Please be advised that the ABMLI, Kryterion, Inc., and the testing center are not responsible for lost or stolen personal items that you bring with you to the testing center. Additionally, tobacco products, food, drinks, and chewing gum are not allowed in the exam room.

Once you have entered the testing center, you will need to participate in their pre-exam inspection, including:

  • Pocket Turn-Outs: You will be asked to turn-out your pockets (on jackets, jeans, slacks, etc.) to verify that your pockets are empty or do not contain any prohibited items.
    Please note: Proctors have been given strict instructions not to make physical contact with you. Ideally, you should empty your pockets prior to entering the Testing Center.
  • Eyewear Inspections: Due to technological advances, such as "Google Glass", external eyewear will be inspected by the proctor to ensure it is not technology-enabled.

You are not allowed to leave the testing facility during breaks.

What if there is a power outage or other technical difficulties at my testing center?

In the event of an unforeseen circumstance preventing the exam or interrupting the exam (for example, a power outage or loss of internet connectivity), the testing center and Kryterion will work diligently to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. If necessary, your exam can be rescheduled for another date in the exam administration window or at another testing center; you will have the time remaining (out of a total of six and a half hours) to complete the exam. Please note, however, that if this happens toward the end of an exam administration window, it may not be possible to reschedule your exam in the current exam window. If this happens, your exam will need to be rescheduled for the next year’s exam window and a new exam will be administered to you at that time. As such, you are advised to schedule your exam as early as possible in the exam administration window.

Kryterion, Inc. (the company that runs Webassessor) has security and back-up measures in place to ensure that examinees' answers are recorded accurately and that examinees are given the full time allowed to complete the exam. Answers are transmitted and recorded individually by Kryterion each time you hit the Next button on your exam. As such, if something happens in the middle of the exam to prevent your completion of the exam on that day, your answers will not be lost. Additionally, Kryterion will keep track of how much time is remaining in your exam session. When your exam is re-launched, the last question you were answering when your exam was interrupted will appear, as will the exam timer showing the time remaining in your session.


Contact Us

The ABMLI is prepared to assist you in applying for Board certification. Questions or comments about the ABMLI are welcome and may be directed to the ABMLI at the following address:

Nicole Jackson
American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology
American Society for Microbiology
1752 N Street, N.W. 
Washington, DC 20036-2904
Telephone: (202) 942-9257
Fax: (202) 942-9353


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