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Written Examination

The Written Examination is a comprehensive exam that assesses the examinee's knowledge of basic sciences and clinical concepts based on criterion-referenced testing. Examinees will be measured against the skill and knowledge represented by each test item. The difficulty of each item for the minimally-competent examinee is the basis for setting the Criterion Standard, one that is represented as an absolute standard on a Benchmark Scale updated every five years.  The ABO Written Examination is administered at Pearson Vue Testing Centers located in the U.S. and Canada.


Examination Specifications

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2022 Written Exam Reading List

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Continuing Education Credits - Written Exams

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  1. Applicant must have graduated or be currently enrolled in an advanced specialty education program in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics in the United States or Canada, accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The requirements for such program are described in "Standard 4" in the link below.

    An orthodontic resident must have completed a minimum of eighteen (18) months of his/her program by the written examination date to be eligible to take this exam.

  2. Alternatively, applicant may apply if they are in an approved "Advanced Standing" program described in "Standard 5" in the link below.
  3. Online Application / Registration must be completed on the ABO website prior to the Written Examination deadline. See Exam Dates, Fees, and Registration for details.
  4. A copy of your orthodontic degree/certificate must be submitted to the ABO; or your Orthodontic Program must provide verification of your status in your residency program.

    In February, the ABO will send all confirmed applicants an email with Scantron scheduling instructions.

The Written Examination is administered at Pearson Vue Testing Centers located in the U.S. and Canada in April of each year. After successful completion of the Written Examination, there is no expiration date nor time limit for completing the Clinical Examination.

Examination # of Examinees Pass Rate
















If a retake exam is necessary, online registration and the Written Examination Fee should be completed on the ABO website. The application fee is only required if five years has elapsed since the previous application.

If an examinee has attempted the Written Examination five or more times and wishes to challenge the exam again, the examinee must petition the board directly before registration will be accepted.

There are many articles, textbooks, and other resources that remain pertinent in orthodontics although they may no longer be included on the written examination reading list.

Attached are the 2017 - 2021 archived reading lists that can be reviewed as general resources.

2021 Written Exam Reading List

2020 Written Exam Reading List

2019 Written Exam Reading List

2018 Written Exam Reading List

2017 Written Exam Reading List

If you have questions to submit for consideration for future ABO Written Exams, please email the information to the ABO Exam Coordinator, Jaime Pendill, at Questions should be multiple choice, and should all include a reference.