This comprehensive examination is the first step in the certification process. The purpose of the examination is to determine whether the candidate demonstrates a minimum level of knowledge, agreed by a panel of experts, to be necessary for the safe practice of urology. The Board strives to provide an examination which reflects contemporary urologic core knowledge and practice, is fair to all candidates, and does not discriminate on the basis of geographical region of training or practice, residency training program, or subtleties of examsmanship.
A resident may enter the certification process upon meeting the Board's pre-urology training requirements and completing at least six months of chief residency in an approved U.S. or Canadian program by June 30 of the exam year.
The Qualifying (Part 1) Examination is given annually as a computer-based examination in Pearson VUE testing centers throughout the United States. This examination is administered during one day, in two examination periods of 3 hours each, with a break between.
Qualifying Exam applications are mailed in mid-September to all residency programs and to eligible practitioners in the US and Canada, and are available for download from this website at that time.
The completed application and $1300 fee are due November 1. Applications may be submitted with an additional $750 late fee until December 1. Chief residents, only, may defer payment of the fee until January 5.
Program Director's evaluations of eligible residents must arrive in the Board office no later than March 1.
Candidates will be notified by the ABU once they have completed all requirements and are eligible to register with Pearson VUE for the examination.
The Qualifying Exam is offered annually, on two consecutive dates in mid-July, at Pearson VUE Testing Centers across the US. Approved candidates may select either date to take the examination.
The 2017 Qualifying Exam dates are July 13 or July 14.
About the Exam:
The Qualifying Examination consists of 300 multiple-choice questions, of which two hundred are previously tested questions used to grade candidates on the examination. An additional one hundred are new field-test questions which are being evaluated and will not count toward the final grade.
200 Qualifying Examination Questions*
100 Field Test Questions
* Only these questions are used to score candidates on the examination
A committee of twenty urologic physicians, with expertise in the various subspecialty areas of urology, develops the examination component of the Qualifying process. Committee members are chosen with regard to the region of the country in which they practice, as well as their subspecialty expertise, so that the committee reflects a comprehensive representation of urologic disciplines and regional practice variations.
The committee is composed of four subject-oriented task forces.
JOINT EXAMINATION COMMITTEE
Task Force A
Physiology, immunology, molecular biology, hypertension, transplantation,
sexual dysfunction, voiding dysfunction
Task Force B
Infections, inflammatory diseases, endocrinopathy,
calculus disease, trauma, obstructive uropathy, fertility
Task Force C
Neoplasms, urinary diversion, fistulae
Task Force D
Pediatric urology, anatomy, fluid and electrolyte disorders
Questions are generated by individual committee members, reviewed by the appropriate task force, and then presented to the entire Examination Committee for critique. Following the critique, questions are rewritten and presented to the group as many times as necessary to reach agreement on relevance, clarity, and the correct answer.
After a new question has been approved by the Examination Committee, it is included as a field test item in the Qualifying (Part 1) Examination, along with previously tested questions which have met stringent criteria for inclusion as official graded questions.
The Qualifying (Part 1) Examination will no longer include items that require the candidate to interpret pathology images. The exam will continue to test pathologic findings /principles that impact management.
Sample Question 1
During investigation for a urinary tract infection, a child is found to have a renal abscess in the upper pole of one kidney. The child is febrile, has flank tenderness, but is clinically stable. The most appropriate next step in management is:
(a) Surgical drainage
(b) Intravenous antibiotics
(c) Partial nephrectomy
(d) Percutaneous aspiration
(e) Nephrostomy placement
Sample Question 2
A 58-year-old man develops left flank pain. Excretory urography reveals a 1 cm radiolucent filling defect in the left renal pelvis associated with moderate hydronephrosis. After urinary alkalinization to a pH of 6.5 for 3 weeks, repeat excretory urography reveals no significant improvement. The next step in management should be:
(a) Percutaneous nephrostomy and bicarbonate infusion
(b) Abdominal CT scan
(c) Percutaneous nephrostolithotomy
(d) Intravenous urinary alkalinization
(e) Retrograde pyelogram
Sample Question 3
A disease identified by the presence of Donovan bodies and caused by an organism similar to klebsiella pneumonia is:
(b) Granuloma inguinale
(c) Lymphogranuloma venereum
Following the examination, the question is statistically analyzed to determine if an appropriate percentage of candidates selected the correct answer, and whether these candidates were the most capable on the overall examination. A good performing question is one which discriminates between more able and less able candidates. A question meeting these stringent requirements may then be used on a subsequent Qualifying (Part 1) Examination as an official graded question. Questions which perform poorly and do not meet these requirements are either discarded, or rewritten and reevaluated by the Examination Committee, and perhaps field tested again.
In order to ensure that the field test questions receive equivalent effort from the candidates, they cannot be identified as field test items. To be identified as such, the field test questions may create the misperception that the test over-emphasizes a given area or has too many difficult questions. Nevertheless, only the 200 tried and proven Qualifying (Part 1) Examination questions are counted in the final score. These 200 questions have met requirements of relevance, appropriate distribution of subject matter, and rigid statistical performance criteria.
The method used to determine a passing score on the Qualifying (Part 1) Examination is based on criterion reference testing. Criterion reference testing uses a benchmark examination to establish a performance which all candidates must meet. Examinations are compared to the benchmark standard and the passing score varies according to the difficulty. The probability of passing remains constant, and the examination process provides a uniform opportunity to pass from one year to the next. In theory, all who take the examination could pass; there is no mandatory failure rate. On average, approximately 90% of first-time examinees pass the examination.