Primary Certification Part II (Oral) Examination 


Successful completion of the Primary Certification Part I (Written) exam is a requirement for admission to the Primary Certification Part II (Oral) examination.  The Primary Oral Examination is designed to test the candidate's knowledge, judgment, and ability to correlate information in the management of clinical problems in all aspects of general thoracic and cardiac surgery (including congenital cardiac surgery).


The format of the Oral Examinations is as follows:

The Oral Examination will be administered in June of every year to eligible candidates.

The Oral Exam will be administered in-person.  Candidates will have a 15-minute briefing, three 30-minutes exam sessions, and a 15-minute debriefing for a total of 2 hours.  Candidates will have three exam rooms with two examiners in each room for a total of 6 examiners.  One room will have 4 cardiac protocols, one room will have 4 general thoracic protocols, and one room will be split (2 cardiac and 2 general thoracic protocols).   In order to pass the exam, candidates must receive a passing grade from the majority of cardiac examiners and from the majority of the general thoracic examiners.


At this time, Oral Exam results will be mailed to the candidate usually within two to four weeks to the address on file on the candidate's portal.  No results are given over the phone or posted on the Internet.


This table provides the general subject topics and a range of their relative weight (based on the past several years) of the entire exam. 

# Case Scenarios Component Category
 6 General Thoracic Total*

Cases will come from the following areas:
2-3 Lung/Pleura
1-2 Esophagus
1-2 Other
Chest Wall/diaphragm
Critical care/trauma
6 Cardiac Total
  Cases will come from the following areas:
2-3 Acquired Heart Diseases:
Valvular heart disease including transcatheter therapies
CAD w/ other combined diseases
Great vessels, tumors, trauma, critical care
0-1 Congenital Anomalies in Adults:
Coronary/great vessels anomalies (e.g. vascular ring, coarctation)
Intracardiac shunts
Venous anomalies
2-3 Other:
CPB devices
Postoperative care/arrhythmia surgery
12 Total Exam


*Each General Thoracic component might include questions examining:
Neoplasms:  Benign & Malignant
Special Operative Techniques
Postop & Critical Care/Complications
Non-Operative Management


12 total scenarios:  6 in each of cardiac and thoracic
  All scenarios weighted equally 

Must pass at least 2 of 3 Examiners in both Cardiac AND Thoracic  

Below is a video for the in-person Oral Exam Orientation.  Some of the information may not apply for the virtual oral exam.  The content of the oral exam is still relevant.