The ABMM exam is offered once a year, in June, at testing centers located around the world.
To measure the candidate’s knowledge in the four subject areas considered necessary for the effective practice of medical and public health microbiology:
- Directing Laboratory Testing Functions
- Directing Laboratory Administrative Functions
- Ensuring Safety and Security in the Laboratory
- Consulting with Other Medical and Public Health Microbiology Professionals
The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions.
It is computer-based and administered at testing centers worldwide.
Candidates can move forward and back through the questions while examining.
Candidates are allowed six hours to complete the exam. The time allotted is considered to be much greater than required for answering the questions, but the Board does not wish time constraints to be a factor in performance.
- Each question is multiple-choice with only one correct answer.
- Questions have a stem and four possible responses.
- Two types of questions are incorporated in the exam:
- Questions designed to test basic recall 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.
- Any calculations needed on the exam will not require a calculator.
- Questions are updated and reevaluated annually. Candidates should expect to see questions on technical advances or issues that occurred during the past year.
Learn more about how a question is developed.
The certification exams of the American College of Microbiology use a criterion-referenced scoring system. This method sets a standard of performance in absolute, not relative, terms. Candidates are not graded on a curve and do not compete against each other. Instead, each candidate’s performance is measured solely against established criteria and standards. Candidates must demonstrate that they have mastered these criteria in order to pass the exam. Candidates who perform at or above the established performance standard pass the exam and are certified. Each candidate’s score is based only on the number of correct answers; there is no penalty for guessing.
The ABMM pass rate is available for 2010-2015.
Candidates not passing the exam on their initial attempt will have two additional opportunities to reexamine; thereafter, a new application will be required. Additionally, candidates must successfully reexamine within three consecutive exam cycles or their application will be withdrawn. The reexam fee is the same as the initial exam fee (i.e., $400).
Download the list of topics tested on the exam. (Updated November 2015)
Please click here to download preparation suggestions and the suggested resources list.
Please click here to download sample questions for the ABMM exam.