A Closer Look at the Demands of ABIM Exams

A Closer Look at the Demands of ABIM Exams

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) certifies internists and subspecialists who demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes essential for excellent patient care. The pass rates for ABIM exams are a point of interest for many in the medical field, as they reflect the standards and challenges associated with attaining certification.

Recent Trends in ABIM Pass Rates

  • The ultimate pass rates for ABIM certification exams have been fairly consistent, ranging between 95-98%.
  • First-time taker pass rates for initial certification exams have shown some variation over the years. For instance, the pass rate was 90% in 2017, 91% in 2018 and 2019, 93% in 2020, and dipped to 88% in 2021.
  • The ABIM provides annual reports on cumulative pass rates across the most recent certification examinations, which are updated each spring.

Factors Influencing Pass Rates

  • The number of examinees and the pass rates can fluctuate due to various factors, such as changes in exam format or external events like the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Pass rates for exams with fewer than 200 takers should be interpreted cautiously, as the performance of small numbers of examinees can significantly affect results.

Implications for Residency Programs

  • The ABIM also reports pass rates for internal medicine residency programs, which can serve as a measure of program effectiveness.

ABIM Subspecialty Pass Rates: A 2023 Overview

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) oversees certification across various internal medicine subspecialties. The pass rates for these exams are crucial indicators of the proficiency and preparedness of candidates. Here’s a look at the 2023 pass rates for first-time test takers in several ABIM subspecialties:

Internal Medicine:

  • 87% pass rate, maintaining the previous year’s level.

Cardiovascular Disease:

  • 86% pass rate, consistent with the prior year.

Critical Care Medicine:

  • A decrease from 89% to 85% compared to 2022.


  • An increase from 95% in 2022 to 96% in 2023.

Geriatric Medicine:

  • A slight decrease from 94% to 93% from 2022 to 2023.


  • An increase from 90% in 2022 to 92% in 2023.

Infectious Disease:

  • An increase from 94% in 2022 to 96% in 2023.

Medical Oncology:

  • A steady pass rate of 92%.


  • A drop from 82% to 80% compared to the previous year.

Pulmonary Disease:

  • A decrease from 96% to 94% from 2022 to 2023.


  • An increase from 87% in 2022 to 88% in 2023.

Sleep Medicine:

  • A significant increase from 88% in the last biennial exam in 2021 to 94% in 2023.

These figures reflect the ongoing commitment to excellence in the field of internal medicine and its subspecialties. While some areas have seen a slight decline, others have improved or maintained their high standards. The ABIM continues to ensure that its certified physicians meet the rigorous demands of modern healthcare.

This summary provides a snapshot of the performance across various subspecialties, highlighting the dedication to maintaining high standards in medical certification.