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Changes to the Case History Exam

After significant evaluation, the American Board of Endodontics has decided to modify the Case History Portfolio Exam to a standard grouping of FIVE cases treated and documented by each Candidate rather than ten cases as previously required. This change is effective immediately, starting with the May 1, 2020 submission cycle.  It is the new standard for both current and prospective Candidates.

Why Change the Case History Exam?
While the ABE strives to ensure that the endodontists it certifies have demonstrated exceptional knowledge, skill and expertise in their field, so too must we continually assess and evaluate our certification process in order to maintain our standards, yet also remove any unnecessary obstacles to certification.

Over the past decade, we have implemented several changes to both our policies and our exams that have helped us to increase our overall number of Board-certified endodontists. We have gone from a total of 35 new Diplomates in 2008, to a record breaking 150 new Diplomates in 2018.  While that increase is significant, with only 33% of AAE members currently with Diplomate recognition, we still have one of the lowest overall percentages of Board-certified members among the dental specialties. For example, a recent report shows that the American Board of Orthodontics counts 46% of their parent association members as Board-certified, while the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry reflects 75% of AAPD members as Diplomates.

The cases remain the greatest, and in most instances, the final hurdle to Board certification. Of the total number of Board eligible Candidates currently on the path toward certification, roughly 55% of those Candidates have passed both the Oral and the Written Exams but have yet to challenge the Case History Exam.

What Are the New Case Requirements and How Were They Determined?
After careful statistical analysis of several cycles of portfolio submission, it was determined that reducing the portfolio requirements from a ten-case to a five-case exam would not compromise the validity and discriminatory capability of the exam. The abbreviated portfolio should encourage the Candidates in the pipeline to submit their cases, as well as enable past and current ABE Directors to review a greater number of portfolios per exam cycle.

The following are the five required cases for submission:
Case 1 – Nonsurgical Root Canal Treatment – Maxillary Molar
Case 2 – Nonsurgical Root Canal Treatment – Mandibular Molar
Case 3 – Nonsurgical Retreatment – Maxillary or Mandibular Molar
Case 4 – Nonsurgical Retreatment – Maxillary or Mandibular Molar
Case 5 – Periradicular Surgery – Maxillary or Mandibular Molar

The elimination of the “Diagnostic”, “Emergency”, and “Other” case categories was determined to be appropriate due to the high variability between candidates in these categories. It is the Board’s opinion that less common diagnoses and procedures can be more adequately addressed in a standardized fashion during the Oral Examination.

The requirement for a one-year post treatment evaluation remains as part of the examination, reflecting the prominence of outcomes assessment throughout the health care professions.

Are There Any Other Changes I Should Know About?
Submission dates remain the same: September 1 and May 1 each year. The registration process and portfolio upload process all remain the same. The case history form has been modified slightly but using a previous version of the form is certainly acceptable.

We have published a new version of the Case History Guidelines which outline the new case requirements, as well as provide all of the latest information on compiling a portfolio, examiner grading criteria and more.  You can find the newest version of the Guidelines on the case history submission website home page:

Please Note:  The case history submission website is currently undergoing routine updates and maintenance.  You can still visit the homepage to download the Guidelines, as well as the new case history form.  The site will fully re-open for registration and portfolio submission the first week of December 2019.

What if I Need to Retake the Case History Exam?
If you have submitted a ten-case portfolio in the past with unsuccessful results, for your resubmission, you are only required to submit a five-case portfolio.

What if I Have Already Registered for the Ten-case Version of the Case History Exam in 2019 (or earlier)?
If you have already registered for the previous ten-case version of the exam, but have not yet begun uploading any information, we will be able to switch you over to the new format. If you log on after December 1, 2019 and notice your screen is not showing the updated five-case version of the exam, please contact Ivana Bevacqua at and she will be happy to assist.

If you have already registered and begun uploading information onto the prior ten-case version of the exam, please contact Ivana Bevacqua at, and she can assist in getting you switched over to the new format.

Who Should I Contact With Questions?
If you have additional questions regarding the new format of the Case History Exam, you may contact ABE Secretary, Dr. Brian Bergeron via email at, or Chief Administrative Officer for the ABE, Ivana Bevacqua at

What Should I Expect Going Forward?
It is our hope that this change will result in a more streamlined path to Board certification, allowing more Candidates to complete their certification, while still maintaining the high standards set by our founders. This in turn will promote the continued growth and stability of our specialty for now, and in years to come.