ABMLI Frequently Asked Questions

ABMLI Contact Information

Nicole Jackson
American College of Microbiology
American Society for Microbiology
1752 N Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

tel: (202) 942-9257
fax: (202) 942-9353
email: certification@asmusa.org

ABMLI Resources

Eligibility Requirements
Exam Information
Reference Form
Testing Centers

Webassessor Account


General Questions
Application Process


General Questions
Exam Registration
Exam Administration
Exam Results



Webassessor Account

I forgot my username or password. Can I have them sent to me?

Yes. You can request this information to be sent to you through the website at http://www.webassessor.com/asm. Click on the link to “Click here to see if you already have a login ID and password.”

How can I update my email address or other contact information?

Log in to your Webassessor account, click on the “edit profile” link at the top of the page, edit the information as necessary, and click on the Save button.

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?

If you used your email address as your login and your email address has now changed, you will 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 certification@asmusa.org to change your login to match your new email address.

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I forgot my username or password. Can I have them sent to me?

Yes. You can request this information to be sent to you through the website at https://accounts.asm.org/core/user/recoverusername.aspx.  Click on the "Password Reminder" link at the top of the page.

How can I update my email address or other contact information?

Log in to your account and click on the "My Account" link at the top of the page. If you have any issues accesing or revising information in the ASMscience, please email certification@asmusa.org.

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General Questions

I am unsure of which exam or Board I should apply to. Can you guide me?

The eligibility requirements and exam information for all three certification Boards can be found on the Certification main page (http://www.asm.org/index.php/certification). If you are uncertain as to which Board you should apply to, we suggest you review the eligibility requirements and the exam information (including content and topics tested) for each Board to see which certification is appropriate for your education and experience background.

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline is June 1. The ABMLI is phasing out the certification exam, applications will not be accepted after June 1, 2016.

Can I submit my application at any time throughout the year?

Yes. Applications are accepted throughout the year. In order to sit for the August exam, though, all application materials, including the application fee, must be received by the June 1 application deadline.

Is the application fee refundable?

No. The application fee is non-refundable and covers review of the application. You are encouraged to closely review the eligibility requirements for the exam you are applying to take prior to applying.

Am I eligible to take the exam?

The ABMLI cannot determine your eligibility until you have submitted a complete application. As the application fee is non-refundable, applicants are encouraged to carefully review the eligibility requirements posted on our website at http://www.asm.org/index.php/abmli-cert/abmli-eligibility prior to applying.

What are the steps I need to follow to apply?

Instructions for how to apply are posted on our ABMLI Apply website (at http://www.asm.org/index.php/abmli-cert/abmli-apply).

When will I receive the result of my application?

Once all application materials have been received, you will receive an email informing you of the date by which your application results will be sent to you. In general, application results are sent out within 4-6 weeks of an application becoming complete.

What if my application is not approved?

If your application is not approved, you will be informed of the reason and you will have 30 days to appeal the decision by having additional supporting materials (in the form of a transcript, educational evaluation, and/or an online reference form) submitted on your behalf. If your application is not approved on appeal, it will be withdrawn and you will need to submit a new application for your eligibility to be reevaluated.

I applied previously, but my application was withdrawn. Do I have to resubmit all of my application materials to reapply?

Application materials are kept on file for seven years. If you reapply within seven years of your application’s withdrawal, you will not need to resubmit your transcripts and/or educational evaluation.

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Application Process

Can the application fee be paid by check or money order?

No. Application fees can only be paid by credit card through ASMscience.

I created a Webassessor profile and paid the application fee through the ASMscience. Is there an actual application that I need to fill out to document my education and work experience?

No. Your educational background will be evaluated based on the transcripts/educational evaluation you submit and your work experience will be evaluated based on the online reference forms submitted on your behalf by your current or former immediate supervisor(s).

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My name has changed since I obtained my degree. What do I need to do?

You must submit an original or notarized copy of your name change certificate or marriage license. Once verified, this document can be returned to you.

I was educated outside of the U.S. or Canada. What do I need to do?

You must have your doctoral degree(s) evaluated by World Education Services, Inc. You only need to obtain a U.S. degree equivalency statement. A course-by-course analysis is not necessary for the ABMLI.

What kind of educational evaluation do I need to obtain? Do I need to obtain a course-by-course evaluation?

No. The ABMLI only requires that you obtain a U.S. degree equivalency statement from World Education Services, Inc.

I have an official, sealed copy of my transcript/educational evaluation. Can I send that in?

No. The ABMLI requires that official copies of transcripts or educational evaluations be mailed directly to our office from the issuing institution.

I was educated in the U.S. or Canada. Do I need to have my undergraduate or master’s degree transcripts sent to the ABMLI?

No. You only need to have your doctoral degree transcript submitted to the ABMLI.

I was educated outside of the U.S. or Canada. Do I need to have my undergraduate or master’s degree evaluated?

No. The ABMLI only requires that you obtain a U.S degree equivalency statement for your doctoral degree.

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How many reference forms do I need to have submitted on my behalf?

The ABMLI only requires that you document the minimum experience for the plan under which you’re applying.

Does experience need to be gained within the United States in order to be considered for eligibility?

No, it does not matter where the experience is gained, as long as it meets the Board’s requirements delineated on the ABMLI Eligibility page.

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General Questions

How many times can I take the exam?

Applicants have three exam cycles from their approval date in which 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 within the next two years under the same application. You must pay the exam registration fee each time you register to take the exam. Subsequent reexamination requires a new application and fee.

Do I have to take the exam the first time it’s offered after I’m approved?

Yes. ABMLI rules require that you sit for the exam within one year of your approval. This means you must sit for the exam the first time it is offered after you are approved. As such, you are advised not to apply until you are ready to take the exam.

Do I have the ability to skip questions while examining and return to them later?

Yes. Candidates can move forward and backward while examining; the computer does not restrict access to the questions.

Is there a study guide or review course for the exam?

All of the information posted about the exam (including exam content, suggested resources for preparing for the exam, and sample questions) is available on the ABMLI Exam Information page on our website. The ABMLI does not post a separate study guide or endorse any review courses.

How many questions do I need to answer correctly in order to pass?

There is not a set number of questions you must answer correctly to pass from year to year. 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. Examinees are not graded on a curve and do not compete with each other for scores. Under the criterion-referenced system, each question is assigned a difficulty value. The number of questions you must answer correctly in order to pass the exam changes depending on the overall average difficulty level of the exam. On an exam whose average difficulty is greater (harder), you will have to answer fewer questions correctly in order to pass. On an exam whose average difficulty is lower (easier), you will have to answer more questions correctly in order to pass. The average difficulty levels of the exams are maintained within a specified range from year to year.

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Exam Registration

Is there a fee to take the exam?

Yes. The ABMLI exam registration fee is $400 and must be paid each time you register to take the exam.

Can the exam registration fee be paid by check or money order?

No. Exam registration fees can only be paid by credit card through the Webassessor website.

When/where is the exam administered?

The ABMLI exams are administered at approved testing centers worldwide throughout the month of August. Some testing centers are open Monday through Friday, others are open on Saturdays/Sundays, and still others are open on alternate schedules. You will be able to check the availability of testing centers once the exam registration window opens.

When can I register to take the exam?

The exam registration window opens on June 15 and closes on August 24 of each year. On June 15, you will be sent an email containing instructions for registering for the exam. As part of the registration process, you will select your testing center, your desired date and time, and pay the exam registration fee. If you are approved after the exam registration window has opened, you will be sent registration instructions at the time you are approved. Approved applicants are advised to register to take the exam as soon as possible after the registration window opens to ensure maximum flexibility in selecting their testing location and time.

I would like to retake the exam. I was able to log in to my Webassessor account, but I was not able to register. How do I register to retake the exam?

You can only register to take the exam during the exam registration window. See “When can I register to take the exam?” (above) for more information.

The testing center at which I would like to take my exam is listed as “In Implementation” in the testing centers list. What does that mean? Will the testing center be available in time for my exam?

Before a testing center can be opened, it must meet certain requirements and become certified. There are a number of variables in implementing a testing center and it can take up to several months for this process to be completed. We are not able to guarantee that a testing center that is listed as “In Implementation” will be available in time for a particular exam administration window.

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 for the exam. 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 certification@asmusa.org (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 bly 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 isn’t a testing center close to you when it’s 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 certification@asmusa.org 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 certification@asmusa.org. 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.

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Exam Administration

How early should I arrive at the testing center?

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 5 minutes.

What do I need to bring with me to the testing center?

In order to sit for the exam, you must bring the following with you to the testing center:

  1. 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.
  2. Two forms of identification, the first of which must be a current, government-issued, photo ID. NOTEBoth forms of ID must show your name exactly as it appears in your Webassessor profile.

The following forms of current, photo identification will satisfy the government-issued ID requirement:

    • State-issued driver’s license or identification card
    • Passport
    • Military identification
    • National identification card

The following forms of non-photo identification are acceptable as your second form of ID (alternatively, you may use a second, government-issued photo ID):

    • Credit card
    • Check cashing card
    • Bank debit card
    • Student ID from an accredited school

In the United States, a Social Security card is NOT an acceptable form of identification.

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: Test takers will be asked to turn-out their pockets (on jackets, jeans, slacks, etc.) to verify that their pockets are empty or do not contain any prohibited items.

Please note: Proctors have been given strict instructions not to make physical contact with the test takers. Ideally, you should empty their pockets prior to entering the Testing Center.

  • Eyewear Inspections: Due to the release of technology, such as "Google Glass", test takers who enter Testing Centers wearing external eyewear to must hand their eyewear over to the proctor for inspection to ensure the eyewear is not technology-enabled.

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

In order to launch the exam, you must agree to abide by the ASM honor code, which is as follows: “I understand that my participation in any irregularity during this examination, including but not limited to giving or obtaining unauthorized aid, as evidenced by observation during the exam or by subsequent analysis, may result in the invalidation of the results of my examination, termination of my candidate status, revocation of my certification, civil liability, criminal prosecution, or other appropriate sanctions. I understand that I will be video-taped while examining. I will not leave the facility during the examination period, and I pledge that I will not discuss the content of this exam with any person at any time during or after the examination.”

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 examination can be rescheduled for another date in the exam administration window, or at another testing center, and you will still have the time remaining to you (out of a total of 6 1/2 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 bly 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.


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Exam Results

When are exam results sent?

Exam results for the August exam are sent out by November 1.

How are exam results sent?

Exam results are sent out via email 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 our office in a timely manner.

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