Board Eligibility Policy

Revised 05/03/18

The Board Eligibility Policy requires successful completion of all requirements, including achieving a passing score on both the Written Qualifying Examination and the Oral Examination, within five years of residency graduation. This policy applies to all candidates for Board Certification as described below:

  • Candidates who completed residency in 2016 and afterwards must successfully complete the written and oral examinations within five years of finishing residency.
  • Candidates who completed residency 2013 through 2015 must successfully complete the written and oral examinations within seven years of years of finishing residency.  
  • Candidates who completed residency prior to 2013 must successfully complete the written and oral examinations within seven years of the 2012 institution of the eligibility policy (i.e., by December 31, 2018).  

During the eligibility periods defined above, a candidate is Board Eligible and can:

  • sit for the Written Qualifying Examination each year it is offered until successful; and
  • sit for the Oral Examination, after the successful completion of the WQE, up to a maximum of five attempts. 

Note: If a candidate fails to register by the deadline for an examination that is scheduled in the final year of his/her eligibility, s/he is no longer considered Board Eligible as of the registration deadline date. 

Candidates who do not qualify for Board Certification within the timeframe requirements described above may enter a re-entry process. Successful re-entry does not restore board eligibility status; however, it will allow the candidate four additional years to obtain Board Certification by completing the following requirements: 

  1. Candidate must complete a re-entry application which includes a $1,000 non-refundable application fee.
  2. The re-entry period begins upon application and is valid for four years during which the candidate must complete the re-entry requirements described below:
    1. As of the date of application and at all times throughout certification, the candidate must hold a valid and unrestricted license(s) to practice medicine in the United States, its territories, or Canadian province in which the candidate’s practice of medicine is regularly conducted and each place where an individual holds an active license;
    2. Three letters of attestation of the candidate’s practice from ophthalmologists certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology must be provided (forwarded to the ABO directly from the physician who wrote the recommendation and on the physician's letterhead);
    3. The candidate must complete an improvement in medical practice activity via the ABO’s Improvement in Medical Practice program; and
    4. The candidate must complete 25 self-assessment AMA PRA Category 1 Continuing Medical Education credits.
  3. Upon re-entry, candidates can register for the Written Qualifying Examination (WQE).  The application filing period runs from April through August 1 of each year with a regular application fee of $1,950. Late applications are accepted until December 1 with an additional $300 late fee.  
  4. A candidate who successfully completes the requirements described above will be eligible to sit for the Written Qualifying Examination (WQE) and will be permitted to pursue Board Certification for a maximum period of four years. The four years begins upon submission of the re-entry application (e.g., a candidate who enters the re-entry process in 2018 will have until 2021 to become Board Certified).  Anyone who does not become Board Certified by the end of the re-entry period can no longer pursue board certification.
For questions about this policy, please contact