The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is a non-profit, American medical association of physicians practicing family medicine and its sub-specialties. It provides the Family Medicine Certification Examination (FMCE) at various points throughout the year as a standardized test to evaluate those interested in receiving certification through the ABFM.
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Passing the FMCE is one of three steps necessary for receiving ABFM certification. While this certification is not necessarily required to achieve a working position in family medicine, it is recognized as a signifier of excellence in the practice.
How Do I Apply to Take the FMCE?
In order to apply for the FMCE, prospective participants must create a “physician portfolio” through the ABFM. To do so, they will be provided with an initial password which they should change upon logging in.
Candidates should confirm and/or update personal information in their portfolio. They will then be expected to pay a fee. Depending on the fee payment plan they select and when they pay, this fee can range from $250 to $1,300.
The FMCE is a computer-based exam.
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What Personal Items Are Allowed or Prohibited During the American Board of Family Medicine’s FMCE?
Participants in the FMCE are allowed to bring with them comfort aid items from a pre-approved list. These items include bandages, cough drops, earplugs, eye drops, inhalers, pillows or lumbar supporters, medical devices, mobility devices, service animals and other common comfort aids.
There is also a list of similar items that candidates can bring to the exam, as long as they acquire pre-approval. These items include additional pairs of eyeglasses, handkerchiefs, religious headwear and thin-sleeved gloves.
The testing center also provides a small selection of items to participants in the FMCE. These items include a dry-erase board and marker, tissues, earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones.
Then there is a short list of common items that are prohibited in the test center. These items include water or other beverages, candy, chewing gum, lip balm and sources of rapid glucose.
How Is the ABFM’s Family Medicine Certification Exam Scheduled for Participants?
Participants in the FMCE will follow a fairly strict schedule when taking the exam and the breakdown of time allotted for different sections offers some insight into how the exam is structured and how prospective participants can best spend their study time. An example of the schedule for an exam that starts at 8:30 a.m. is as follows:
- 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. — ID check, registration and taking seats
- 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. — Verifying identities, exam tutorial, instructions for exam section one, ABFM rules review
- 8:45 a.m. — Exam section one (100 minutes for 80 multiple-choice questions)
- 10:25 a.m. — Optional 15-minute break
- 10:40 a.m. — Verifying identities, instructions for exam section two and module topic selection
- 10:45 a.m. — Exam section two (100 minutes for 80 multiple-choice questions; 40 questions on selected module topic and 40 multiple choice questions on breadth of family medicine topics)
- 12:25 p.m. — Optional 70-minute break
- 1:35 p.m. — Verifying identities, instructions for exam section three
- 1:40 p.m. — Exam section three (100 minutes for 80 multiple-choice questions)
- 3:20 p.m. — Optional 15-minute break
- 3:35 p.m. — Verifying identities, instructions for exam section four
- 3:40 p.m. — Exam section four (100 minutes for 80 multiple-choice questions)
- 5:20 p.m. — 15-minute exam survey
- 5:35 p.m. — Exam day ends
How Can I Get a Great Score on the ABFM’s FMCE?
The FMCE is an intensive, full-day exam that covers a huge range of content over 240 multiple-choice questions. As such, prospective participants are best served by splitting their study time between a broad study guide and minute, specific study flashcards.