The 2017-18 ABO Board announced the testing change in the March 2018 AJO-DO. Pictured, from left, front row: Drs. Valmy Pangrazio-Kulbersh, Chun-His Chung, Larry Tadlock, Nicholas Barone. Back row: Drs. Steven Dugoni, Jae Hyun Park, Timothy Trulove, Patrick Foley, David Sabott.

Following its May 2018 meeting in Washington, D.C., the AAO Board of Trustees announced its support for the American Board of Orthodontics’ new, scenario-based testing format.

“The AAO supports the ABO scenario-based exam,” said Dr. Brent Larson, AAO president. “We encourage board certification for all AAO members.”

“There have been many changes in the ABO exam since its inception,” said Dr. Gary Inman, AAO president-elect and chair of the AAO/ABO Communications Committee. “This is simply another way to promote and encourage Board Certification without the ethical dilemma that presenting cases poses. The scenario-based exam will be a true test of orthodontic knowledge as well as problem solving. The key objective of the change is to encourage all eligible AAO orthodontists to become Board certified.”

The ABO Board announced the change in testing format in a March 2018 editorial in the AJO-DO. The editorial noted the ABO written examination will remain the same and the exam as a whole will “not be easier.” The ABO Board cited a lengthy process of evaluation that led to the conclusion that the requirement for presenting treated cases was proving to be a barrier to Board certification for many in today’s orthodontic work environment.1

The editorial noted, “The clinical examinations of 4 of the American Dental Association’s recognized dental specialty boards are completely scenario-based (American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, and American Board of Periodontology). Also, the orthodontics oral examination of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada is entirely scenario-based. The majority of the American Board of Medical Specialties’ member boards also offer scenario-based certification.”2
Additional information about the ABO’s planned implementation of the scenario-based testing system may be found in the March 2018 AJO-DO editorial, including an explanation of how the tools previously used by the ABO to assess case outcomes will be used within the scenario-based exam system.

In addition, Dr. Larry Tadlock, then ABO president-elect, was interviewed about the change to scenario-based testing in an AAO podcast that was made available via the eBulletin. The podcast featuring Dr. Tadlock’s interview remains available at The Business of Orthodontics Podcast.  Additional information may also be found at