How to Navigate the Didactic Exam

How to Navigate the Didactic Exam

The In-training and Part I Board Qualification Examination (Didactic) consist of multiple-choice questions that will evaluate your clinical knowledge and treatment skills acquired during an approved podiatric surgical residency. The written exam contains 80 objectively scored items. This exam should be a very familiar format to you as it is similar to other standard multiple-choice tests such as the SAT, GRE, and MCAT.

The Part I Board Qualification Examination in Foot Surgery covers diagnostic and perioperative care encompassing the foot and ankle. Intraoperative areas include surgical procedures of the entire foot except for RRA procedures.

The Part I Board Qualification Examination in RRA Surgery covers diagnostic, intraoperative, and perioperative care pertaining to RRA procedures.

Exam Format

The In-training and Part I Didactic exam uses an adaptive testing format. In an adaptive test, the computer dynamically selects multiple-choice questions as you take the test and adjusts item selection based on your demonstrated ability level.

As you answer each question, the computer assesses your response and selects the next question based on whether your previous answer was right or wrong. The questions become progressively more or less difficult as the program assesses and establishes your ability level. Once you complete each item, you cannot go back to it later.

Be sure to read the question stem carefully. Pay close attention to the wording of the stem and be aware when a question is presented in the negative.

Make sure to view all available images. After you view the first image, you will often have to click to see additional images.

Preparing for the Exam


ABFAS recommends using the practice exams to become familiar with the types of questions on the ABFAS didactic exams. The practice exams help you assess your knowledge and test-taking skills with a selection of multiple-choice questions. Note: You must log in to view the available practice exams. These questions involve analysis of the information and application of the information presented; they are not questions that rely on rote memory. 

It’s important to honestly assess exam content areas where you possess in-depth knowledge and areas where you need to expand your knowledge. If there are areas where you feel you can deepen your knowledge, tailor your studying appropriately.

What Subject Areas Are Covered on the Written Exams?

Depending on which exam you take, the following subject areas—as applied to the practice of podiatric surgery—are covered on the written exam:

  • Basic Science
  • Pathoanatomy
  • Pathomechanics
  • Pathophysiology
  • Problem-focused History and Physical
  • Diagnostic Studies and Medical Imaging
  • Differential Diagnosis
  • Surgical Principles
  • Surgical Procedures and Techniques
  • Procedural Perioperative Management
  • Surgically Relevant Medical Management
  • General Medicine
  • Anesthesia
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Lower Extremity Conservative
  • Complications
  • General Medical

The following specific conditions may be tested under one or more subject areas:

  • Deformities
  • Infections
  • Neoplasm/Tumors/Masses
  • Other Conditions
  • Acute Trauma

Exam Location

The didactic exams are administered online at secure Pearson VUE test centers throughout the United States.

Time Management

You will have two hours to complete the Part I Didactic exam. If you have average reading skills, you should have ample time to complete the written exam. Extra time has been factored in to allow most candidates to work steadily through the questions without running out of time.

Exam Scoring

Each exam is scored by computer, and failed exams are automatically rechecked and re-scored.

The score is determined by the difficulty level of the questions you answered correctly.

In consultation with an independent psychometric consultant, the ABFAS Board of Directors establishes a passing scale score for each exam. Your exam results will be reported as a scale score.

Since any failed exams are automatically rechecked and re-scored, there is no further review of scores after results are mailed to candidates.

Exam Results

ABFAS will notify you via email, as to when you can find your test results on your ABFAS personal profile page. Sign-in with your ABFAS user name and password using the "Login" button at the top of the webpage. If you need password assistance, you will find it on the "Login" page.