Written Examination Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: September 23, 2018

1. Why is ABCN revising the Written Examination?

Revision of the written examination (WE) is a normal process that occurs every few years to ensure the exam reflects advancements in the field. Exam revisions also try to improve on prior iterations. For example, past revisions have shifted item formats from rote memorization to more applied clinical knowledge and/or provided opportunities for ABCN to enhance psychometric data collection. The upcoming revision is therefore not unique, but a continuation of ABCN’s ongoing commitment to this process.

2. How will the content of the examination change?

As with prior versions of the written exam, item content in the revised examination will continue to be grounded in Section VI of the Houston Conference guidelines, reflecting the foundational and functional/practice core knowledge bases for neuropsychologists. In the upcoming exam revision, this content will be assessed within a framework of domains that were identified through job task analysis (JTA) as being essential to the practice of clinical neuropsychology. Approximately 300 board-certified neuropsychologists contributed data to the JTA and the resulting framework is consistent with the functional and foundational competencies that candidates must demonstrate throughout all stages of the board certification process (i.e., professional standards, research methods, assessment, case conceptualization, intervention). Sample questions are listed below in FAQ #9. More details on domains in the JTA framework can be found on this page:

ABCN Written Examination Instructions [PDF]

3. Will I need to change the way I have been studying for the Written Examination?

Your best strategy continues to be to reinforce your knowledge base through broad review across all domains specified in Section VI of the Houston Conference guidelines. The study process is intended to not only prepare you for the written examination, but to facilitate advancement through the Practice Sample and Oral Examination stages of board certification.

4. When will the revised Written Examination be implemented?

The current examination will be retired after the March 2018 exam window and the revised examination will be implemented beginning with the June 23-July 13 exam window.

5. Why are there only three exam windows in 2018, rather than four as in other years?

Windows 2 and 3 (previously scheduled for May and August) were collapsed in 2018 and pushed back to June/July to accommodate the implementation of the revised examination. Although there will be only three discrete exam windows in 2018, the exam will still be open for a total of 8 weeks as in other years. This was made possible by extending the June/July window to four-weeks.

6. I was planning on taking the Written Examination in May to hopefully sit for oral exams in spring 2019. How will this schedule change affect my eligibility?

We anticipate that score reports from the June/July 2018 examination window will be made available to candidates by late August.  We understand that some candidates may have planned to take the written examination in the May 2018 window in anticipation of submitting a Practice Sample by the October 1 deadline (for consideration of being seated at the spring 2019 oral examination). To accommodate those candidates, ABCN will extend the Practice Sample deadline to October 15, 2018.

In addition, given the potential inconvenience of this schedule change, candidates who register to take the Written Examination in June/July 2018 will receive a one-time discount of $100 off the ABCN/ABPP examination registration fee. That is, the registration fee of $300 will be reduced to $200 for this examination window only. The PSI seat fee, however, is unchanged.

7. Will candidates who do not pass the March exam (Window 1) need to wait until December to re-take the exam? No. In 2018, Windows 2 & 3 are combined into 4 consecutive weeks (back-to-back 2-week windows). Candidates who do not pass the written exam in March may register for and take the June/July examination because exam Window 3 is represented in this testing epoch. This fulfills the ABCN requirement to skip one examination window between unsuccessful attempts.

8. Are candidates who registered for exam windows that were closed/moved eligible for the registration discount? Any candidate who sits for the written examination in June/July 2018 is eligible for the $100 registration discount. Candidates who reschedule to June/July from another window will receive a refund. Candidates who reschedule to December 2018 will not receive a refund. If you were automatically rescheduled to the June/July exam and do not receive a refund within two months of being rescheduled, please follow-up with the ABPP Central Office (office@abpp.org or 919-537-8031).

9. Are sample items available to illustrate the structure and content of questions that will be included on the exam?

The following items represent examples of questions that will appear on the ABCN Written Examination. As noted above, exam questions will cover the content domains and objectives derived from the ABCN Job Task Analysis (JTA). Each sample question below includes a reference to the specific JTA Domain and Objective measured by the item.

10. How do I interpret my test score on the ABCN Written Examination?

ABCN no longer reports raw scores when sharing examination results. Instead, scaled scores are reported, with a score of 300 being required to pass the exam. The scaled score is an empirically derived conversion of raw scores that ensures candidates who take different versions of the exam meet the same performance level required to pass.

The ABCN written examination is a criterion referenced exam in which the passing standard is set by the Board of Directors on the basis of item difficulty and the knowledge expected of qualified clinical neuropsychologists. Scores are not norm-referenced or graded on a curve. Therefore, passing the exam is not dependent on how your score compares to other candidates.

If you do not receive a passing score on the Written Examination, you will receive a breakdown of your Test Section scores to help you better understand your performance and guide remediation efforts should you choose to retake the exam. Please be aware that these scores are reported as percent correct and cannot be averaged to arrive at an overall scaled score. In reviewing your pattern of performance across Test Sections, keep in mind that strong performance in a specific section may not automatically carry over to your next attempt. Section scores can vary between attempts, particularly for sections with a low number of questions. ABCN advises individuals who retake the examination to study for the whole exam, paying special attention to areas of weakness. The Clinical Neuropsychology exam blueprint is available here and provides a complete listing of the testable content for the examination.


1. A 5-year-old boy presents for evaluation with a clinical presentation of mild intellectual disability, significant language delays, hyperactivity, social difficulties, and hand flapping. He has no abnormal physical characteristics by observation or physician examination. Of the following genetic conditions, which is most consistent with this clinical presentation? (3.03 ‐ Apply knowledge of psychometric and patient characteristics)
a. Rett syndrome
b. Prader Willi syndrome
c. Fragile X syndrome
d. Williams syndrome

2. A 42-year-old gentleman reports a 2-year history of uncontrollable movements in his arms and legs, emotional problems and a decline in thinking ability. What information from the records would be most important in differential diagnosis? (2.01 ‐ Determine diagnostic information needed from Record Review)
a. Developmental history
b. Family medical history
c. History of traumatic brain injury
d. Substance use history

3. Quality of childhood education reliably predicts which of the following racial disparities in late-life cognition among African Americans, as compared to Caucasians? (1.2 – Know the impact of diversity on neuropsychological practice)
a. Faster rates of cognitive decline.
b. Lower baseline test scores.
c. Poorer test sensitivity to early dementia.
d. Slower response times on speeded tasks.