Pearson Testing Centers

With regards to the Part I (Written) Exam, the American Board of Thoracic Surgery recognizes that taking an exam in a computer-based testing center is different from the normal testing environment.  For this reason, we have highlighted below some items that you should expect on the day of the Written Exam.  Please note that many of the items below are basic Pearson VUE test center operating procedures that the Board has agreed to abide by.  Pearson VUE requires that all examinees follow the same protocol.


What to Bring to the Testing Center           

  • You will need to bring two (2) forms of identification, one must be government issued with a picture and signature, and the second must have your signature.  The names on both IDs must match exactly and must match with the name listed on the Pearson VUE confirmation letter or email. A Marriage Certification or Divorce Decree should accompany your identification if a recent name change has occurred.   If your name does not match exactly, you will not be allowed to take the examination.
  • You will need to bring the confirmation letter or email issued by Pearson VUE.  The letter or email confirms the date, time and location of the exam.
  • You are encouraged to bring a non-perishable lunch and/or snack to eat during the optional, one-hour lunch break.  Some of the Pearson Testing Centers are not conveniently located near restaurants or vending machines.  You can store your lunch in the locker that Pearson provides.

What Not to Bring to the Testing Center

  • You will not be allowed to bring any electronic devices into the testing room, including cellular phones, hand-held computers/personal digital assistants (PDAs) or other electronic devices, such as laptops, and tablets.  You will not be allowed to bring coats, wallets, purses, jewelry (even watches), hats, bags, briefcases, books, or notes into the exam room.  Pearson VUE will provide you with a secure locker to store these items. The Board encourages you to leave as many as these items at home, since Pearson VUE will not be responsible for lost, stolen or misplaced personal items.

What Type of Breaks You Will Be Given

  • You will be given an optional, one-hour lunch break between each exam session.  To take the scheduled break, follow the directions that appear on the computer screen at the appropriate time.  The exam clock will stop for 60 minutes.  If you are away for more than 60 minutes, time will automatically be deducted from the remaining exam time.  For example, if you take a 75-minute lunch break, 15 minutes will be taken off the remaining exam time.  As a reminder, Pearson will need time to re-check you into the exam, so you may want to return to the testing center before the 60 minutes are up.
  • You may take unscheduled breaks at any time during the exam.  To request an unscheduled break, raise your hand to get the test administrator’s attention.  The administrator will set your testing workstation to the break mode.  In this case, the exam clock will not stop while you are away.  For example, if you need to take a 5-minute bathroom break during an exam session, when you return you will have 5 less minutes to complete the exam. You cannot leave the testing center facility during an unscheduled break.

What to Expect at the Testing Center

  • You should plan to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled examination time for registration and check-in.
  • If you arrive 15 minutes after the scheduled examination starting time, you will have technically forfeited your assigned seat and it will be up to the discretion of the testing center whether to permit you to sit for the exam or not.
  • During the admission process at the testing center, a digital photo and digital signature will be taken, along with a palm vein scan.  The palm vein scan will also be used every time you enter or exit the computer exam room. 
  • A camera will monitor you the entire time you are taking the exam for security purposes.  You will also be audio taped while you are taking the exam.
  • You will be proctored by a trained professional.
  •  The administrator at the testing center will log you in to your assigned workstation, verify that you are taking the intended exam, and start the exam.
  • You will take the exam in the same room as other individuals who may not be thoracic surgeons or medical professionals.
  • You may request earplugs or headphones if you find the room too noisy; however, you may not bring your own.
  • You will not be allowed to drink or eat (not even medication) while you are in the exam room.
  • You will not be allowed to smoke in the Pearson VUE Testing Center.
  • If you experience hardware or software problems or distractions that affect your ability to take the exam, notify the test administrator immediately.  If you have other questions or concerns, the administrator will assist you as long as other candidates are not disturbed. 
  • After completing the exam, the administrator will come to your workstation and ensure your exam has ended properly.  Your hand will be scanned when leaving the exam room. The administrator will provide you with a printed document confirming that you completed the exam.
  • You may not remove copies of the exam questions or answers from the testing center nor are you allowed to share questions or answers seen in your exam with other candidates.
  • Exam data is automatically encrypted and transmitted electronically to the exam sponsor.  The testing center does not retain any information other than when and where your exam was taken. 
  • You are encouraged to take the Computer-based Testing Tutorial that can be found on the Pearson VUE web site (  The Interactive Guided Tour with Demonstration Test will give you the opportunity to learn how to navigate through the testing format followed by a demonstration test.   
  • You will NOT know your results at the end of the exam.  The American Board of Thoracic Surgery will mail results letters after it conducts a thorough analysis of the exam, which takes approximately 8 weeks.  No results are given out over the phone or Internet.