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American Board of Pediatrics Pass Rates Revealed!

Jumping for JoyWhy 2012’s Pediatric Board Exam Results Were AMAZING!

Predicting the trend of the American Board of Pediatrics pass rates is tough. So, let me start by saying that I’M A LITTLE SHOCKED THAT I DID IT! In the Pediatrics Board Review article titled “Could the Pediatric Boards Pass Rate be 100% this Year?”, I discussed the possibility of having a dramatically improved overall pass rate for first-time test takers.

 Why? Two main reasons…

  1. In 2012, the American Board of Pediatrics changed how they score pediatricians on the boards!
  2. In 2012, the American Board of Pediatrics FINALLY switched from the old “scantron” or “fill in the bubble” test to a computerized system.

Prior to those scoring changes, you were essentially graded on a “curve.” The ABP would set the pass rate to an arbitrary number (like 75%), and then fail the bottom 25% of first-time test-takers. In 2012, they changed the scoring system to something much more familiar. Simply answer a certain percentage of questions correct and YOU WILL PASS!

Sound a little more fair? I think it's MUCH more fair! Again, if you want to know more about the American Board of Pediatrics’ new scoring system, you can read about it in the PBR article called, ABP’s New Scoring Changes.”

So, not only did the ABP change the scoring system, but it ALSO moved the exam to the computer. Those were two MAJOR changes. There was a great deal of uncertainty as to HOW pediatricians would perform with the new style of testing, and I believe the American Board of Pediatrics simply had to be a little more lenient to test-takers in 2012.

But what ended up happening SHOCKED ME!

Rising Pediatric Board Exam ScoresAmerican Board of Pediatrics’ 2012 Exam Results REVEALED!

For the SIX years prior to 2012, the pediatric board exam pass rates had only been running around 76% – 79%. 

In 2012, something incredible happened

2012 American Board of Pediatrics Pass Rates SKYROCKET

WHAT! I literally had to do a double take and pick my jaw up off the ground. In the course of just one year, the pass rate JUMPED UP BY TEN PERCENT! My honest expectation for the 2012 pass rate was that it would be around 80%. So what happened?

WOW - The American Board of Pediatrics made a splash with this newsI’ve thought long and hard about this, and here are my conclusions:

  • I’ll talk about it more in the future, but the ABP received a directive from their parent organization which has forced them to make some difficult decisions. An improved pass rate was one of the changes they had to make, and I applaud them for doing it.
  • If you haven’t heard about it, there’s now a 7-year limit on board eligibility. That means you MUST pass your pediatric boards within 7 years of the completion of your residency program. For many pediatricians who passed more than a decade ago, 2013 is their last chance to pass the boards. Depressing, right? With that in mind, I think they are loosening their grip and allowing more people to pass. If you're a pediatrician and you do not pass the boards within this 7-year limit, you will have to go back for at least 6 months of retraining!

What Does This Mean for the Future?

Swami gazing into a crystal ball

I’ll give you two possibilities about what this means going forward… and then I’ll give you my prediction.

Option #1: After having 1 year of seeing how pediatricians perform on the computer-administered exams in Prometric Testing Centers, the American Board of Pediatrics now has the data it needs to “course correct.” Thus, they can force passing rates to be closer to the range of 76% – 79% again.

Option #2: The American Board of Pediatrics will continue to allow much higher pass rates going forward, ranging in the 85% – 90% range.

Call me naïve, optimistic, or inebriated… but my prediction is that OPTION #2 will hold true. 

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Also, cast your vote! Leave a comment below and tell me what you think will happen on the boards this year!

Ashish Goyal, M.D.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Hytham -

What is the score range in the new system ( what is the average ) and what is high score , is 300 the upper limit ?

Ashish Goyal, M.D. -

Hi Hytham. Thanks for the question. Like many things “ABP” related… it’s complicated. In general, I just try to remember that a score of 180 is passing. While many PBR members have scored in the 250 range, all you need is 180 points. To get more familiarity with the scoring system, you can visit the following page on the ABP’s website –

I hope that helps!


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