ABD Certification Pathway Info Center

The ABD Certification Pathway is a staged evaluation with a BASIC exam designed for first-year residents, covering dermatology fundaments; CORE exam modules testing more advanced knowledge of senior residents about dermatology’s major clinical areas; and an APPLIED exam given after residency, which tests the ability to apply knowledge in clinical situations.

This page serves as the Information Center to provide residents, program directors and program coordinators with the essential information about the certification pathway. We will update it as new information and resources become available. 

Pathway Overview
Exam Content 
Honor Code
Fast Facts

Pathway Overview

Residents who began dermatology residency on or after July 1, 2018 follow the ABD's staged certification pathway, consisting of CORE modules throughout years 2 and 3 of dermatology training, followed by an APPLIED Exam at the conclusion of the final year. 

Refer to our infographic for a visual overview of exam administrations by dermatology residency years.

Exam Content

To help residents prepare for the examinations, we created the reference materials listed below. Please note that content information may be updated periodically. The available documents are considered DRAFTS and further revisions are expected as the ABD Certification Pathway evolves. 

Certification Pathway Content Overview To provide general guidelines about the content that may be evaluated in each exam. 
BASIC Exam Content Outline To provide an overview of the content assessed on the BASIC Exam and the relative representation of each topic. 
CORE Exam Study Guide To list the types of content that may appear in the CORE modules.  
APPLIED Exam Content Overview To provide an overview of the content assessed on the APPLIED Exam. 
 Sample Items  To demonstrate the types of content on the BASIC, CORE and APPLIED Exams. 

Honor Code

When applying to take each exam, residents will be required to read and sign the American Board of Dermatology Honor Code. On Exam Day, they will be presented with the Honor Code again and asked to affirm their understanding and willingness to abide by its requirements. 

Fast Facts

The table below succinctly answers some of the questions you likely have about the differences between each exam and their methods of administration:

2021 Cert Pathway Fast Facts Updated 012021

Click the table for a full resolution view.