What we know so far about MOCA-Peds

By Linda A. Althouse, PhD

[Read Part 1 -  ABP is on track to launch new exam pilot in January 2017 by Dr. David G. Nichols]


MOCA-Peds has not only taken over my work days, but is invading my dreams! And I’m not alone. This project is a big deal – and, like Dr. Nichols and many others involved in the development, I’m very optimistic and enthusiastic. 

Currently, diplomates are required to pass an exam every 10 years to maintain their certification. These exams must be taken in a secure testing facility. The tests include approximately 200 questions, which pediatricians have up to four hours to complete. 

The MOCA-Peds pilot will release to diplomates a series of questions at regular intervals, conveniently delivered through their mobile devices or a web browser. These questions and explanations of the answers will focus on both learning and the assessment of knowledge. 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 diplomate’s performance on the test questions over time.

As it is a pilot, MOCA-Peds will be limited to the 2017 General Pediatrics MOC exam for those diplomates whose 10-year exams would be due in 2017. As we develop the platform, we are mindful of the opportunity to expand its use, and we intend to provide MOCA-Peds for subspecialties if the general pediatrics pilot is successful. However, subspecialists maintaining their general pediatrics certification and due to take their exam in 2017 are also eligible for the pilot.

As we have said, details are still being worked out, but so far, the ABP expects:

  • Twenty multiple-choice questions will be made available quarterly (every three months).
  • Questions may be answered anytime during the quarter at the diplomate’s convenience, either one at a time, in small batches, or all 20 in one sitting.
  • Time allocated per question may vary based on the amount of information presented.
  • Immediate feedback will be provided, including whether the selected answer was right or wrong as well as references and a brief explanation of the correct answer.  
  • Questions for the pilot will focus on the application of fundamental knowledge used in everyday practice that should not require pre-exam studying or the use of books and online materials while answering. Resources may be used, however, as long as the question is answered during the allocated time.
  • Content will be tailored to inpatient or outpatient settings, depending on the diplomate's practice profile or preference.

In the 2017 pilot, questions will be based on 40 learning objectives drawn from the General Pediatrics Content Outline that reflect the breadth of knowledge required for practice. During the year, the diplomate will receive two questions associated with each learning objective (not necessarily in the same quarter). By having two questions on each objective, diplomates will have the opportunity to demonstrate they learned material they did not previously know or to reinforce the information they did know.

This new platform also allows additional questions about new guidelines or emerging topics (e.g., Zika virus). These additional questions will be for the sake of learning only and will not be scored. For the pilot, the ABP will limit this feature to no more than five questions.

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

Linda A. Althouse, PhD

Linda A. Althouse, PhD is the Vice President of Psychometrics & Assessment Services at the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). With expertise in research and psychometrics (the development of examination and measurement instruments), Dr. Althouse is responsible for ensuring that the Board produces valid and reliable examinations that accurately assess a physician’s knowledge base. She is responsible for producing the ABP's annual workforce data book, and works closely with the ABP Research Advisory Committee, which develops new research initiatives and efforts related to board certification. Her doctorate is in educational psychology with a concentrated focus on measurement and assessment.