Everything You Need to Know About the ABIM Internal Medicine Exam

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • If you’re a busy resident planning to take your ABIM internal medicine board certification exam, we’ve compiled this essential ABIM certification information just for you:

    What is the ABIM Exam?

    While every physician must be licensed to practice medicine, board certification is a voluntary process. Even though it’s not mandatory, board certification demonstrates a physician’s “exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice” according to the American Board of Medical Specialties. The ABIM (American Board of Internal Medicine) exam is offered to those physicians wishing to specialize in internal medicine.

    When is the ABIM Internal Medicine Exam offered?

    ABIM 2021-2022 Exam Dates

    2021 Exam Dates 2021 Registration Dates 2022 Exam Dates 2022 Registration Dates 2022 Late Registration Dates
    August 16, 17, 20, 23, 24, or 30 December 1, 2020 to April 15, 2021 August 15, 17, 18, 22, 23, 29 December 1, 2021 to April 15, 2022 April 16, 2022 to April 28, 2022

    You can register for the exam in the My Exams page in the Physician Portal. Registration is on a first-come, first served basis. The exam costs $1,430.

    ABIM Internal Medicine Exam Format

    The computer-based exam consists of four testing sessions that may include up to 60 multiple-choice questions. In total, the exam may include up to 240 multiple-choice questions. There is no guessing penalty and the exam is scored on a pass or fail basis.

    Most questions will include a clinical description or an account that you will need to respond to or clinical data that you will be asked to interpret. You will have up to two hours for each testing session or eight hours for the entire exam.

    How long is the ABIM Exam?

    The ABIM exam takes approximately 10 hours. This includes breaks and orientation.

    When are ABIM scores released?

    ABIM scores are released within three months of the last date of the exam in that area. Residents will be alerted via email and should check their scores on the Physician Portal.

    How do I prepare for the ABIM exam?

    1. Take the IM-ITE (Internal Medicine In-Training) Examination®.

    This online exam is designed to be a practice test and help residents determine how ready they are for the ABIM. It doesn’t count or prohibit you from taking the ABIM. The 2022 IM-ITE will be offered from August 18, 2022 until September 7, 2022 (except on Labor Day). Registration opens in late May 2022. In order to register, speak to your Program Director.

    2. Review MKSAP and UWorld.

    Read our post on UWorld vs. MKSAP for ABIM preparation. 

    3. Get 1-on-1 help from Med School Tutors.

    Med School Tutors’ ABIM Certification Exam tutors are high-achievers who have excelled in internal medicine residency clinical rotations, In-Training exams, and certification exams. If you’re preparing for the ITE or balancing rotations and certification exam prep, schedule a free phone consult to find a tutor who will be the perfect fit for you.

    When should I start studying for the internal medicine boards?

    While it is never too early to start preparing for the boards, we have a blog post detailing strategies for when and how to start ABIM studying based on your current year of study.

    How many times can I take the ABIM internal medicine exam?

    Applicants cannot take the ABIM internal medicine certification exam more than three times in a row. After three failed attempts, the applicant cannot register for an exam for one year.

    In 2019, the first-time test taker internal medicine certification exam pass rate was 91%.