View the latest updates from the American Board of Ophthalmology COVID-19 Information Center.


The Current Situation

Will the ABO hold the March 19-21 Oral Examination in Phoenix?

For the safety and well-being of all exam participants, their families, and their patients, the ABO has made the difficult decision to postpone this examination until fall 2020. The new date and location are TBA.

Will the Oral Examination be rescheduled?

When the COVID-19 situation no longer presents travel and safety issues for participants, the ABO will re-schedule the event for fall 2020. At this time, it is not possible to provide a specific reschedule date or timeline.

Will I still be able to certify in 2020?

We are optimistic that once the spread of COVID-19 no longer puts the health of participants or their patients at risk, we will be able to set a new date. Simultaneously, we are exploring other options for meeting the assessment goals of the Oral Examination. Use this link to share youre feedback on those options by April 1, 2020:

Will this affect my Board Eligibility?

If you are unable to test at a rescheduled date in 2020, the ABO will extend your existing seven-year eligibility period by one year.

What if I had a job offer contingent on my certification?

Please contact us. We will speak with or write to your employer or credentialers to explain that the delay is unavoidable for public health reasons.

Will you help cover my expenses?


  • Registration Fee: Your exam fees will be credited to a new 2020 date or the 2021 examination. If you would prefer a refund, please email us to request one.
  • Airline Fees: Most airlines are allowing ticket-holders to rebook without penalty The ABO will cover any change or re-booking fees up to $300. Simply provide the receipt and we will issue you a check within 5-7 business days.
  • Hotel Fees: Please contact your hotel directly to manage your reservation, including bookings made at the Hilton Tapatio or Embassy Suites.


Why are you canceling the exam?

Our mission, first and foremost, is to protect the public. The health, safety, and well-being of our exam participants and (those with whom they come into contact) is paramount. We cannot ask you or our volunteers to take unnecessary risks at this time. 

Why did you tell us previously that you were going to proceed?

At the time of our first announcement, most health care institutions had not begun banning domestic travel. That change, coupled with the increasing spread of the virus, forced us to reconsider our plans.

Why are you giving in to the COVID-19 “media hype”?

Our decision was based on the recommendations of the CDC and numerous health care organizations. Many public events, meetings, and tradeshows, including board exams in other medical specialties, have been canceled or postponed. Major hospitals and academic health care institutions, universities and schools, and other organizations are banning travel and asking employees to work from home.

Why can’t I judge my own personal risk and choose to travel?

As an organization, we have to consider the potential risk to the public. Ophthalmologists treat a large percentage of the most vulnerable population for this virus (the elderly). Even if we employed stringent sanitization and hygiene practices during our exam, you could inadvertently become exposed to the virus while traveling to or from your exam and spread it to others.

Why can’t you give the exam virtually instead?

The Oral Exam is face to face by design, not by lack of innovation. The in-person format of discussing patient cases is integral to the test design and has been a unique part of our culture in ophthalmology since 1916. Any changes to the assessment would need to meet our stringent standards for test reliability and validity. It’s important to keep in mind that in 104 years of giving the face-to-face exam, this is the first time we have had to postpone the event. The ABO is presently studying other options for administering an alternative assessment that meets the goals of the Oral Examination.

Why couldn’t you tell me this earlier?

We explored every possible scenario that would allow us to keep the examination on schedule; however, we cannot ask candidates and volunteers to violate institutional travel bans and quarantines that have been put in place to protect the public.


When will I know the new test date?

As soon as it is safe to hold an exam, we will make arrangements to do so and share that date with you far enough in advance for you to arrange your travel and make study plans. At this point, we are looking at dates in fall 2020.

When will you refund my exam registration?

We encourage you to remain registered for the next available exam. However, you can request a refund by writing to and it will be issued to you within 3-5 business days.

When can I get my airline rebooking reimbursement?

Email us a copy of your receipt and a reimbursement check will be issued to you within 5-7 business days.


How can I challenge this decision?

The decision to postpone is final. We apologize for the tremendous disruption and disappointment that this has caused you; however, please know that we would give the examination if it were at all possible to do so without risk to the health, safety, and comfort of candidates, examiners, and those with whom they come in contact.

How can I tell the Board what I think about this decision?

How can I trust that there won’t be a problem the next time I sign up to take my exam?

The spread of COVID-19 is a situation beyond our control. We absolutely understand your frustration; however, we would ask you to look at our 104-year record of protecting the public through the consistent delivery of high-quality reliable, valid examinations.

How can I move forward as a candidate?

We understand that this postponement is disappointing and upsetting. Please understand that in addition to protecting the health of patients, we believe that you deserve the opportunity to take your examination in a safe, comfortable, distraction-free environment that allows you to accurately demonstrate what you know. The stress of the examination, coupled with the additional stress of traveling during a public health crisis is not good for you, your performance, or the welfare of your patients and families. Please allow the ABO some time to re-work the logistics of this examination. We will communicate with you frequently on this website and via email as things progress.