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Primary and Subspecialty Applications and Examinations

If you have questions concerning the application process, the examinations, verification of certification, or other activities of the American Board of Pathology, please review the ABPath Booklet of Information. If you still need additional information, e-mail your questions to for primary certification or for subspecialty certification.

How does the ABPath communicate with applicants?

All communication between the ABPath and applicants for certification regarding their applications occurs via email. This includes notice of approval of the application, examination date assignment and results being available. You may also receive e-mails during the application process, so please be sure the e-mail address in your “My Profile” tab in Pathway is correct.

How do I request an application for primary/subspecialty certification?

All applications are online available through Pathway, with the exception of Clinical Informatics and Single certification these are paper applications found the ABPath web site. For primary certification, once logged into Pathway the application/registration link is under the “Primary” tab at the top of the page.  For subspecialty certification the application/registration link is under the “Subspecialty” tab.

I logged into PATHway and there is not an application available for me. What should I do?

Application links are under the “Primary” tab for AP and/or CP certification.  If the link is not available, contact Resident Tracking ( or check with your program director (PD) to ensure he/she has completed Resident Management and Evaluations.  You will not get an application link until the latter is completed by your PD. Application links for subspecialty exams are in the “Subspecialty” tab.

When will my application be processed?  How long does the process take?

Applications are processed in order of date submitted. Applicants will be able to track the progress of their applications through Pathway, Board Correspondence screen. Your application is not reviewed immediately upon finalization. You will not see progress on your Board Correspondence screen until your application is reviewed by the ABP.

Does my application have to be approved by my program director and the ABPath by the deadline date?

No, the deadline date is for submission of your completed application and payment only, not the approval of the application.  As long as your application was submitted by the deadline date you have met the deadline.

I have submitted my application, but why are the boxes indicating requirements for application (medical license, diploma, etc.) not checked off on my Board Correspondence screen yet?

These are not checked until the application is complete, then reviewed and approved by the ABP Credentials Committee.  We receive hundreds of applications during the application window and they are reviewed according to date submitted.  Be patient.

Does the ABPath have a finance or payment plan?


What is a full and unrestricted medical license?

A medical license that allows a physician to practice in state, jurisdiction, or Canadian territory with no restrictions.  A training license is NOT full and unrestricted.

I have a training license is this acceptable to apply for certification?

No, you must have a full and unrestricted medical license.

I am starting a fellowship in July and the program told me that I only need to apply for a training license, so why do I have to apply for a full and unrestricted medical license?

For board certification, you must have a full and unrestricted medical license or have applied for a full license.

I applied for a medical license, but will not get it until after to the deadline.  Can I still apply for the examination?

Your application will be processed, and if approved, you will be assigned a date to take exam and allowed to take the exam.  The ABPath will assign you a “Withhold Results” status, which means you will not receive the results of your examination until you have provided a copy of your full and unrestricted medical license showing the expiration date in Pathway, My Profile tab.  You have two years from taking the exam to obtain a full and unrestricted license.  If you have not reported such to the ABP, your exam results will be invalidated and you will have to take the exam once again if you want to be ABP certified.

If I don’t get my medical license before the examination dates are assigned, will I still be able to receive a date assignment to take the examination?

Yes, the ABPath will assign you a “Withhold Results” status, which means you will not receive the results of your examination until you have provided a copy of your full and unrestricted medical license showing the expiration date in Pathway, My Profile tab.  You have two years from taking the exam to obtain a full and unrestricted license.  If you have not reported such to the ABP, your exam results will be invalidated and you will have to take the exam once again if you want to be ABPath certified.

How many shared autopsies can I have?

Effective 2018, New Shared Autopsy Policy:

1) There is not a limit of the number of shared autopsies; no more than two residents can share an autopsy.

2) The maximum number of single organ autopsies (e.g. brain) allowed is five and cannot be shared.

3) The maximum number of limited autopsies (e.g. chest or abdomen only) allowed is ten and can be shared.

How many single organ/fetal autopsies can I submit?

1) The maximum number of single organ autopsies (e.g. brain) allowed is five and cannot be shared.

2) The maximum number of limited autopsies (e.g. chest or abdomen only) allowed is ten and can be shared.

3) Fetal autopsies—refer to the fetal autopsy policy in the Booklet of Information (section III.B.)

I won’t have 50 autopsies before the application deadline for submission.  What should I do?

You must have completed the required 50 autopsies by the application submission deadline date (January 15 for the spring exam) or you will have to wait until the next exam session.

Which ACGME report should I upload to my application?

There are a few different formats for the ACGME log.  Currently, the best one to upload is the “Full Detail Report”.  You must be sure that the log includes age group, gender, primary diagnosis (as would be reported on a death certificate), and PGY year the autopsy was performed. Do not include any other procedures (e.g. bone marrows, FNAs, etc.) in the log that you submit.

The application form asks for the number of surgical specimens that I have examined. I don’t know the exact number.  What should I do?

Many hospital LIS systems can search for reports with your name as the resident of record.  If you cannot do this, an estimated number is acceptable.

I am a 3rd year resident in an APCP program and have completed the required 18 months of AP rotations. Can I apply to take the AP part of the exam this year and take the CP exam next year, when I complete the required CP rotations (or vice versa)?

No, you cannot apply for any portion of the APCP exam until the last year (4th year) of training

I started my training off cycle (after July 1) and will not complete training until after July 1.  Can I still apply for the spring examination?

It depends on date of completion training.  If you complete the required 48 months of training by Aug. 31, you can apply for the spring exam; however, you will have a “Withhold Results” status until the ABP receives a letter from your program director verifying satisfactory completion of training.  If you complete your training after Aug. 31, but before December 31 you can apply for the fall exam.

I am in an APCP program and I want to be certified in APCP.  Can I take the AP portion of the exam in the spring and then take the CP portion later (or vice versa) or do I have to take the AP and CP exams both at the same time?

Yes, you can take one portion of the exam in one session (spring or fall) and the other portion during another session; however, you should consider the additional expenses for registration, transportation, food, hotel, and time from work.  The fee to take a single exam (AP or CP) is $1800, rather than $2200 if both are taken in the same session. If you pass the AP or CP portion of the exam, you are not board certified until you have taken the other portion of the APCP exam and passed that exam.

I am an APCP resident, who wants to be certified in APCP.  Can I apply for only the AP or CP exam and when I pass one portion of the exam, be able to apply for a subspecialty exam?  Then I would take the other AP or CP exam the following year.

No, you must complete the 48 months of required training and become certified in APCP in order to qualify for subspecialty certification.  If you want to get two separate certificates, one in AP and one in CP, the training requirements are 36 months for AP and 36 months for CP, so you would need additional training.  The primary certification requirements (AP and/or CP) vary by subspecialty.  See the Booklet of Information.

I am taking the spring primary exam this year.  Can I apply for a subspecialty exam this year too?

A candidate for the Spring primary examinations (AP and/or CP) who wishes to apply for a subspecialty examination in the same year must submit the subspecialty application prior to the subspecialty application deadline.

a. If the candidate is successful in the primary examination, the ABPath will automatically process the application for the subspecialty examination.

b. If the candidate is not successful, he/she will be notified and the subspecialty examination fee minus a $100 administrative fee will be refunded. A new subspecialty application must be completed for future examinations.

I am APCP board eligible and passed the AP part of the exam but not the CP part.  Can I take a subspecialty exam this Fall?

No, you must be successful in both the AP and CP part before taking the subspecialty examination.

When will the examination dates be assigned?

  • Spring primary examination dates will be posted to your Board Correspondence screen in March
  • Fall primary examination dates will be posted to your Board Correspondence screen in September

If I choose to take the primary exam at the Tucson, AZ location, when will I know that I was assigned a date Tucson?

Date assignments are posted in March.  If you chose Tucson, AZ for your location, you will be assigned to take the exam in Tucson.  Pathway has been set up when the Tucson location is full a notification will appear to let you know that it is full and you must choose Tampa, FL.  The Tucson assignments are made on a first come basis, based on date of the completed application and training program location. There are a limited number of candidates who can be assigned to the Tucson examination center. All Fall examinations are administered in Tampa.

Can I request a date for my examination?

No, requests for specific examination dates are not accepted. The dates are assigned by the computer system.

What can I do if my examination date is not acceptable?

Primary certification only.

Inability to accept the date assignment once date assignments are posted, candidates for the primary certification examination have two weeks from notification of their assignment to cancel. If the candidate cancels from the examination, the examination fee minus a $500 cancellation fee will be refunded within two weeks of cancellation. You cannot change the date assignment within a given examination. If the ABPath is not notified within the 2-week period, the assignment will stand.

Subspecialty certification only. There is no opportunity to cancel the date after the filing deadline without forfeiture of the fee, unless there is a verified illness at the time of the examination.

If I cancel an examination for which I am registered, will that be considered/recorded as a FAIL?


I am an APCP resident and have registered for the AP and CP examinations, but I won’t have time to study for the CP or AP part of the exam.  How do I cancel one part?

There is not an option to cancel a portion of the examination once your application and payment have been received.  If you decide not to show-up for one part of the exam, you may email Mary ( or tell the proctor or other staff person in the exam center that you will not be coming the next day. If you are not coming for the first day of the exam, be sure to be on time for the exam you are taking the next day.  Exams are generally given AP one day, CP the next.  There is no refund of the fee if you are a no-show.

How do I cancel an examination for which I am registered? (Primary Examination Only)

The exam dates are electronically assigned and appear on your Board Correspondence screen in March for the spring exam and in September for the fall exam.  Once your exam date assignment is posted, you have a 2-week window to cancel taking the examination.  There is a non-refundable $500 cancellation fee.  By clicking “CANCEL” on your Board Correspondence screen, an automated email is sent to the ABP.  $500 is withheld from the initial fee submitted and the balance will be refunded to you. 

If I cancel taking the examination, will I be required to complete the application process again?

No; if your application was previously approved and you still are board eligible (green table) on your “My Profile” tab, you only need to complete a registration package, which includes the honor code, registration form, certificate form, and payment of fees.

When will the results of the examination (primary/subspecialty) be available?

Results will be posted to your Pathway Board Correspondence tab approximately 6 weeks after the last examination date. For subspecialty 6 weeks from last day of all subspecialty exams.  A notice will be posted on the ABPath home page and you will receive an e-mail notification to check your Pathway Board Correspondence tab.

What should I do if I cannot open my results letter?

If you have a problem opening your results letter, Technical Support has several suggestions:

1. Press F5 on your keyboard to refresh the page.

2. Reinstall Adobe Acrobat, it may not be installed correctly.

3. You may have your pop-up blocker turned on.

4. If you are using Google Chrome as your internet browser, switch to Internet Explorer.

5. If you are using a MAC or smart phone, please use a PC.

I just received an email that my examination results have been posted, mine are not available?

If your results are not available, please check your medical license status. It is a requirement that you possess a full and unrestricted medical license to practice medicine or osteopathy valid through September 1, (spring); November 1 (subspecialty); December 1 (fall) for your results to be released. If the medical license you have uploaded does not display a valid expiration date, please upload a copy showing the expiration date (registration card, wallet care, state online verification, etc.) to your “My Profile” tab.  Please e-mail for primary and for subspecialty if you continue to have problems.

How are the ABPath exams graded?  Do I have to pass each section (written and practical)?

The ABPath uses criterion referenced exams for its certification examinations.  Criterion-referenced tests (CRTs) are intended to measure how well a person has learned a specific body of knowledge and skills. On a CRT, the passing or "cut-off" score is determined in advance by a committee of experts in the field. The candidate’s performance (i.e. mastery of the subject matter) is compared to the cut-off score and not to other test takers. Theoretically, all candidates could pass or fail depending on how they performed relative to the passing score.  A driver’s test is an example of CRTs, because the goal is to see whether the test taker is skilled enough to be granted a driver’s license, not to see if one test taker is more skilled than another test taker. In contrast, norm-referenced tests (NRTs) compare test takers to each other. Scores are reported as a percentage rank with half scoring above and half below the mid-point. NRTs are designed to sort and rank students "on the curve," not to see if they met a standard or criterion. The ABPath does NOT use NRTs for its certification examinations.

The sections of the AP examination (microscopic glass slide/virtual microscopy written and practical) are scored as a single exam and the section of the CP examination (written and practical) are likewise scored as a single exam. All subspecialties are scored as single exams.

How should I notify the ABPath of a change in my address?

You are responsible to maintain your current e-mail address, mailing address, and phone numbers through Pathway in your My Profile tab.

How should I notify the ABP of a change in my name?

Changes in name must be made in writing with the applicant’s signature and must be accompanied by legal verification (marriage license, court order, etc.). A form for submitting name changes is available in the Our Organization section of this website and can be downloaded, printed, and either faxed or emailed to with the supporting documentation.

Continuing Certification (CC) PROGRAM

Please refer to the CC Booklet of Information for more information about ABPath's CC Program.  Please email any specific questions to

What is the CC Program?

Maintenance of Certification (MOC) is an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) initiative adopted by its 24 member boards to assure the public that their physician is committed to continuous professional development and lifelong learning and competency in their specialty and/or subspecialty. ABPath's Continuing Certification Program is how ABPath fulfils this initiative.

What are the benefits of CC?

The CC Program is recognized as an important quality indicator by insurers, hospitals, quality and credentialing organizations as well as the federal government. Through the CC program, board certified physicians advance the standards of specialty medical care provided nationwide.

When do I need to submit my CC requirements?

ABPath's CC program requirements are based on a 10-Year cycle. The Board requires that an electronic CC Reporting Form be submitted via PATHway every two years. A diplomate will be on either an even-year or odd-year reporting cycle based upon the year of enrollment in the CC program.

An assessment covering any certificates maintained in the CC Program must be passed once per 10-year cycle.

What if I have multiple certificates?

Only a single CC Reporting Form will be required to maintain all certificates that a diplomate has earned. The Assessment requirement is certificate specific.

My certificate has an expiration date on it. When will I receive an updated certificate?

Certificates with expiration dates will be replaced as their listed expiration date comes up if the certification is being maintained. Passing the CC Examination does not change any expiration dates or CC Program dates/deadlines. This includes receiving an updated certificate.

I have a non-time limited certificate.  Can I participate in the CC program?

The CC Program is open to all diplomates of the ABPath. Voluntary participation in the CC program, or lack thereof, cannot put a non-time limited certificate in jeopardy. Participation in CC by diplomates with non-time limited certificates is strongly encouraged by ABPath. Non-time limited certificate holders can voluntarily enroll in CC for a one-time fee of $100. Please refer to the Voluntary Enrollment section of the CC Program Overview page for details.


What does reporting cover?

Completing a reporting form every two years meets the CC Reporting requirements (Professionalism, Lifelong Learning, and Improvement in Medical Practice).

Where do I find CC Reporting Form?

ABPath's website ( has a large, green "Log in to PATHway" button at the top right of every page. CC Reporting Forms are accessed through the CC Program page of your PATHway account. 

How do I submit CC Reporting Forms?

When all required fields have been completed and the information saved you may click the "Finalize and Submit Form" button located in the lower left of each page. If the form is complete you will be routed to a secure payment page. Once the online payment transaction is completed the form will automatically be submitted for review. If there is an issue trying to submit the form will display an error message.

What is the CC form submission fee for?

Each diplomate is assessed a fee for development and maintenance of an electronic record of certification and CC participation with ABPath. The $50 annual CC fee is linked to the submission of the biennial CC Reporting Forms. For more information please view the Fees section of the CC Program Overview page.

How long does it take for CC Reporting Form approval?

All Reporting Forms will be reviewed for approval on a regular basis. Once a Reporting Form has been reviewed for approval, an email will be sent to the diplomate either stating approval or requesting further information.

Lifelong Learning

If I am enrolled in a fellowship during the reporting cycle, do I still need to complete CME/SAMs credits?

No, completion of a fellowship during a reporting period may be used to satisfy both the Lifelong Learning and Improvement in Medical Practice (IMP) requirements. For fellowships that are not ACGME-accredited, a letter from the Program Director or other institutional official must be provided to ABPath stating that the fellowship was held to the same standards as an ACGME-accredited fellowship in order to be used for CC reporting.

Are CME and SAMs the same thing?

All SAMs are AMA Category 1 CME credits that are eligible to be reported to ABPath as self-assessment. Only AMA Category 1 CME credits are accepted for CC Lifelong Learning requirements. SAMs differ from CME in that they require additional considerations. Any educational activity which awards SAM-eligible CME will indicate this in information about the activity.

Is there a limit to how many CME/SAMs credits that I can obtain from any single provider?

No, CME credits can be obtained from any ACCME-accredited provider. ABPath requires that 80% of CME/SAMs credits be directly related to your practice.

How can the CME/SAM credit I earn automatically appear in PATHway?

Any AMA Category I CME credits you earn can be reported directly to ABPath by an ACCME-accredited educational provider. These credits will appear in your PATHway profile and relevant reporting form automatically. Encourage your favorite educational organization to directly report to the ABPath if they do not already.

If I obtained more than the required minimum CME/SAMs credits, do I need to enter and track all of the credits?

Diplomates only need to enter and track the minimum required number of CME/SAMs credits in order to complete a CC Reporting Form. Diplomates wishing to enter and track all obtained credits beyond the minimum CC requirements may do so.


If I have more than one medical license, do all licenses need to be uploaded to PATHway?

A full and unrestricted license is necessary to complete CC Professionalism requirements. If a diplomate holds more than one license, they all must be full and unrestricted and uploaded in the My Profile tab. Any non-US licenses in a language other than English must be accompanied by a translation when uploaded.

What is the evaluation component of Professionalism?

Every Year 4 and Year 8 Reporting Form in a 10-year cycle asks for references, if applicable. ABPath asks for four references and their email address. Please only enter a reference if they meet the requirement of a given line.

You may have submitted a Year 4 or Year 8 CC Reporting Form but it will not be reviewed until all 4 evaluations have been submitted to ABPath.  It is the responsibility of the diplomate to follow up with their references to make sure that the evaluation forms are received and submitted as soon as possible.

What will be expected of the references that I provide to ABPath?

The four references provided will be sent an email with a link to an evaluation form. The emails are sent at the time of reporting form submission. The evaluation is very brief and should only take a few minutes to complete and submit. The reference will be asked to comment on your effectiveness in the six CC competencies adopted by the ACGME and the ABMS.  

What if a reference says that they did not receive the evaluation email?

The reference email address may have been entered incorrectly on the Reporting Form. This can be corrected if you send a request to the update reference to Also, some mail servers may automatically send the evaluation link email into the reference’s junk or spam folder. Please ask the reference to specifically look for an e-mail from with your name in the subject line.

If you would like to resend the evaluation email to a reference, the link to do so is located on your Board Correspondence page in PATHway. The link is only active if it is underlined.

How can I check to see if the evaluation forms have been submitted by my references?

On the Board Correspondence page in PATHway there is a list of your four references. If the Resend Evaluation Form link appears next to a reference’s name, then the evaluation form has not been received by ABPath.

Improvement in Medical Practice (IMP)

What if I am affiliated with multiple labs that are accredited?

Only list the agency accreditation numbers for the primary laboratory that you are associated with for Improvement in Medical Practice on your CC Reporting Form.


What is the Assessment requirement of the CC Program?

An assessment covering each certificate being maintained in the CC Program is required once per 10-year cycle.

ABPath CertLink® (ABPCL)

What is a longitudinal assessment?

Longitudinal assessment is a testing approach that fosters learning through continuous assessment of knowledge. The method involves administering questions over a long period of time in order to identify knowledge gaps. Longitudinal assessment can aid in comprehension, retention, and retrieval of knowledge.

Can I participate in ABPCL?

ABPCL is open to all certified diplomates of the American Board of Pathology (ABPath).

Can I customize the content of my ABPCL assessment?

Yes! ABPCL features over 30 content areas and a flexible assessment design so you can create an individual assessment that matches your knowledge and practice.

How do I answer ABPCL questions?

Questions are delivered at the beginning of each quarter through the CertLink® platform at Questions may be answered at any time during the quarter they are assigned.

Is there a cost to do ABPCL?

The cost of participation in ABPCL is included in the CC Program biennial fee. For non-time-limited diplomates there is no cost to register for ABPCL during this pilot phase.

How does ABPCL meet my Assessment requirement?

ABPCL covers all certifications being maintained in the CC Program and features a customizable assessment design with practice areas for any certification. Answering all ABPCL questions assigned every quarter throughout a 10-year CC Cycle and answering questions correctly will meet your Assessment requirement shortly before the end of a 10-year cycle.

Where can I find answers to my ABPCL questions not answered here?

Complete information about ABPCL can be found on the ABPCL In-Depth page.

Continuing Certification Examination

When is the CC examination offered?

The CC exam is offered twice a year during Spring (March) and Fall (August) sessions. You can take the CC exam in Year 8, 9, and 10 of a 10-year CC Cycle.

When can I register to take the exam?

Registration for the Spring (March) session is open from November 1st - December 31st of the preceding year. Fall (August) registration is open from April 1st - May 31st.

How many times can I take the exam?

You may take the CC exam for as many times as you are eligible until you pass.

Where can I find answers to my CC exam questions not answered here?

Complete information about the CC examination can be found on the CC Examination page.

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