Summary of the Complex Pediatric Otolaryngology Written Exam Administered on November 2, 2021

Posted 12/21/2021 | Subspecialities

As the ABOHNS releases the results from the first Complex Pediatric Otolaryngology (CPO) Written Certifying Exam, we want to communicate information about the processes used to develop the Exam, eligibility requirements for applicants, demographics of the candidates, and Exam results:

  • Development of the first Written Exam was a multi-year process.
    • Subject Matter Experts defined the Scope of Knowledge in alignment with the Definition of CPO and distinctly different from knowledge tested on the primary certification exam.
    • Subject Matter Experts used the Scope of Knowledge to create the Exam Blueprint that included all practice areas within CPO (i.e., laryngology, rhinology, otology, etc.) in a proportionate manner. Public comments were incorporated into the processes used to create the Scope of Knowledge and Exam Blueprint.
    • More than 700 new questions were generated by the CPO Item Writing Committee to use on the Exam. After each question was written, reviewed, and edited, the question underwent further review by the CPO Steering Committee to ensure suitability for the CPO Written Exam. Post hoc analysis revealed that 80% of the questions were included in the CPO Item Bank, and 20% were moved to the primary certification item bank.
    • The Exam was constructed with 225 questions to the specifications of the Exam Blueprint.
  • Eligibility criteria and application requirements were established to align with the Definition of CPO.
    • All applicants submitted for their application:
      • a minimum number of Qualifying Cases,
      • a minimum number of Multidisciplinary Activities, and
      • verification of having unrestricted privileges at a facility with a Level III NICU, or equivalent.
    • The minimum time in clinical practice requirements were two years for applicants through the training pathway and four years for those through the practice pathway.
  • Applications were submitted to the ABOHNS from March 15, 2021 to May 24, 2021.
    • 194 applicants were confirmed to complete the application, meet the requirements, and approved to be Exam candidates.
    • 5% of applications were randomly chosen to be audited. The audit required an extra level of scrutiny on the application details. All passed the audit.
    • 182 approved candidates decided to take the Written Exam administered on November 2, 2021.
      • Demographics of the candidates included:
        • 123 practice pathway (68%), 59 training pathway (32%),
        • 106 male (58%), 76 female (42%), and
        • 35 of 50 states had at least one Exam candidate.
  • The passing cutscore for the CPO Written Exam was determined and approved.
    • A group of 16 Subject Matter Experts met for an in-person, two-day meeting to conduct standard setting with the ABOHNS psychometrician to determine the Written Exam cutscore.  
    • The cutscore determined by the Subject Matter Experts was reviewed by the ABOHNS Board of Directors and approved.  
    • While informal feedback from candidates was consistent that the CPO Written Exam was rigorous, the test taking population overall performed well.
  • Exam results based on the cutscore and performance of the test taking population:
    • Pass = 98%

For those interested in taking the CPO Written Exam in the future, the next administration date is October 25, 2022. The ABOHNS anticipates opening the application process on February 7, 2022. The ABOHNS encourages any questions about CPO to be submitted to Aliyah Forte, ABOHNS Subspecialty Certification Coordinator, at

The ABOHNS wants to extend deep appreciation and gratitude to those who dedicated so much time and effort to participating in this multi-year, intensive process to reach the point of successfully administering the first CPO Written Exam. The commitment of these individuals has been truly inspirational. 

CPO Steering Committee:

  • Chair: Kathleen Sie
  • Members (in alphabetical order): Jeff Bumpous, Kenny Chan, Marlan Hansen, Stacey Ishman, Ron Kuppersmith, Diego Preciado, Richard Smith, Greg Wiet

CPO Item Writers and Subject Matter Experts (in alphabetical order):

  • Samantha Anne, Cristina Baldassari, Charles Bower, Matthew Brigger, Kenny Chan, Jeffrey Cheng, Sukgi Choi, Robert Chun, German Paul Digoy, Ravinhdra Elluru, Steven Goudy, Stacey Ishman, Noel Jabbour, Romaine Johnson, Ken Kazahaya, Carol MacArthur, Anna Messner, Richard Christopher Miyamoto, Diego Preciado, Brianne Roby, Scott Schoem, Kathleen Sie, Richard Smith, Dana Thompson, Marc Thorne, David Tunkel, Julie Wei, David White, Gregory Wiet, Carlton Zdanski