ABP is on track to launch new exam pilot in January 2017

By David G. Nichols, MD, MBA

[Read Part 2 - What we know so far about MOCA-Peds by Dr. Linda A. Althouse]


Last summer, I announced that the ABP would pilot a different approach to the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Part 3 assessment – one that not only assesses knowledge but also catalyzes learning. We are on track to start that pilot – now officially named MOCA-Peds -- in January 2017 for pediatricians who are maintaining certification in general pediatrics and who are due to take their exam in 2017

Please note: Pediatricians with an exam due in 2016 must take that exam to remain certified. People with an exam due in 2017 may opt to participate in the pilot. Diplomates would not be required to take the MOC secure test center exam as long as they are meaningfully participating in the MOCA-Peds pilot. Anyone with an exam due in 2017 who chooses not to participate in the pilot, or who stops participating, will be responsible for taking his or her exam in 2017.

Linda Althouse, PhD, the ABP’s Vice President of Psychometrics and Assessment Services, gives more details in her post on this blog, but I’d like to mention the feedback we’ve gotten from the pediatricians in our many user and focus groups. MOCA-Peds is generating positive interest and enthusiasm from many of our diplomates (ABP-certified pediatricians). Still, as can be expected, some diplomates have expressed concerns that we’d like to allay. In that spirit, please keep these things in mind:

  • Questions for the pilot will focus on the application of fundamental knowledge used in everyday general pediatrics practice that should not require pre-exam studying or the use of books and online materials while answering.  However, resources may be used as long as the question is answered during the allocated time.
  • As noted above, the pilot beginning in January will involve only diplomates who have an exam due in 2017 and who volunteer. Diplomates would not be required to take the MOC secure test center exam as long as they are meaningfully participating in the MOCA-Peds pilot.
  • We will move forward with the new testing platform only if the pilot proves successful. We will address issues that the pilot reveals by making changes or finding a different solution.
  • If the pilot is successful, MOCA-Peds will become the summative assessment for MOC Part 3, meaning that a pass/fail decision will be made based on the pattern of the diplomate’s responses over time.
  • We recognize that life events or personal emergencies can happen to any of us and which could make participation in MOCA-Peds difficult for a period of time once it is no longer a pilot. The ABP (including our focus and user groups) are considering various options for accommodating such events. 

We are still building this platform and haven’t nailed down all the details. Please see Dr. Althouse’s post for more information about what decisions have been made.

Subscribe the ABP Blog for updates. Upcoming topics will include: pediatrician feedback on design of MOCA-Peds; writing questions, discussion and resources; scoring, and other updates on the pilot progress. If you have immediate questions, please contact us at


About the Author

David G. Nichols, MD, MBA

David G. Nichols, MD, MBA is the President & CEO of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). As leader of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) staff and a member of the non-profit organization's Board of Directors, Dr. Nichols actively promotes high quality health care for children by upholding the standards of certification in pediatrics, and by encouraging and facilitating initiatives in quality improvement. Although he assumed his new leadership role in late 2012, he has been associated with the ABP for more than 20 years. He is board certified in general pediatrics and is board certified and maintaining certification in pediatric critical care medicine.