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American Board of Pediatrics Exam Scoring Changes

I've received a tremendous number of questions about what the American Board of Pediatrics 2012 scoring changes might mean for this year's exam.

Are YOU Familiar With the Changes?

Before we get into my thoughts, let's recap the old scoring system and quickly go over the new scoring system.


SCORE RANGE: 0 – 800


SCORE RANGE: 0 – 300

So what does this mean for you? My general sense is that the new exam scoring system will not necessarily change anything about whether or not you pass the pediatric boards. I DO think that the new GRADING SYSTEM may work in your favor for this year and this year only.

The reason the new scoring system will not really affect your chances of getting a passing grade is because it's simply just a new scale. The American Board of Pediatrics has decided that starting in 2012, instead of deciding based on a curve whether or not you have been deemed worthy of getting a passing score of 410, they will instead predetermined a percentage of questions that needs to be answered correctly (somewhere between 70-75%) in order to get a passing score of 180.

What do you think? Would love to know so leave a reply below!

Ashish Goyal, M.D.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 12 comments
Satesh -

I am so glad it is pass-fail. Curves can be tricky. I think 75% just to pass is quite high if it is anything like PREP. That would mean the average score would be around 80% or above???? I hope it is more like 68% as a minimum to just pass. What is the point of failing so many people based on zebras and tricks? I just dont get it. It is so subspeciality based. It should be more like internal medicine where questions are written by internists.

Ashish -

I feel and understand your frustration.

To answer your question, 70-75% of the 336 questions will need to be answered correctly to get a passing score of 180.

Good luck!

Satesh -

The test seemed better on computer and more straight forward. Much faster, not worried about missing circles. You are probably right, they will ask for at least 70% to pass and they will fail the same number of people. But I also heard that they have a new chairman of the APB, so I wonder if the philosophy of testing will change? As in more general pediatrics over subspecialty.

Sam -

Do you think the Pediatric board will be pass/fail for 2013 or based on a curve again?

Ashish -

Hey Sam,

I would be absolute shock if they changed back to pay her type of scoring format. I think it’s much more fair to have a certain number of questions that need to be entered correctly and then allow people to either me that number, or not. If they were to go back to a curved system, I’m certain they get a tremendous backlash.

Hope that helps.
– ag

Teekam -

Hi Ashish,

How many total question in a exam? are those 1 hour block wise and how much time to spent for each block? Is it same like USMLE pattern exam. I could not find any info about exam pattern on website.


Ashish Goyal, M.D. -

Hi Teekam,

In terms of how many questions are on the pediatric board exam, it’s a VERY common question. So common that I wrote an entire article about the number of questions on pediatric board exam(s), the number of blocks of questions on the pediatric boards, how much time you should spend on each question, and all kinds of other GREAT info.

It’s all located right here:

Hope that helps!
– AG

yanni -

Ashish, What about all those experimental questions?, which I was told will not be scored. If we remove those, lets say 3-5 questions in each block, we will be left with 300-305 questions. If 180 is the passing score, scoring approximately 60-62%% of the questions correctly( The scored ones),should suffice? don’t you think? Appreciate all your good work and help. Thanks!

Ashish Goyal, M.D. -

Hi Yanni,

Good question. I think it’s impossible to know for sure how many questions are experimental, and the feedback I’ve received has been that docs who were getting at least 80% right were more likely to pass than the ones getting 70% right. So, I would definitely NOT start feeling comfortable if you are scoring in the 60’s.

What I would do, though… is select a random answer and mark the hold button on any question that’s super long, annoying, etc. and come back to it at the end. It’s save you time, allow you to finish the exam, get to the easier questions, and then allow you to try to answer the tough and possibly experimental questions with less stress.

yanni -


Thanks! for your input. I was wondering how would a person know if she or he got 80% of the questions correct? I personally have friends who took the exam and said they would fail or were not sure how they did and they eventually passed! Very few people could figure out the fact that they have nailed nearly 70 or 80% of questions correct. Did you feel the same way? when you took your boards( Hope you don’t mind me asking). What do you think is going to happen this year? 85-90% pass or back to old system of 70-75% pass rate. Thanks! once again for all your time.

Ashish Goyal, M.D. -

Hey Yanni… It sounds like you already took the exam. My reply was really meant to guide how you should approach practice questions (shoot for 80% or more).

As for the actual exam… I DO feel the same way as you and your friends. Meaning, who the heck knows how many questions I got right that day?!?

Based on my ultimate passing score, I kind of have an idea as to how many I may have passed by… but only the ABP really knows.

As for my prediction for the pass rate for first-time test takers in 2013, I believe it will be in the high 80’s. Lots of reasons for it. Let’s hope I’m right 🙂

Yanni -

Results are out! I passed! Was very stressed as I only had 10 days to prepare for the exam. This was my first attempt and with my current private practice job, it would be very difficult to find additional time to study, Had I not passed this time. Congrats! to everyone who passed.


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