National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners

Qualifying Examination

Bulletin of Information for Candidates

Electronic Edition

2014-2015 Testing Cycle

The policies, procedures, requirements and other information in this bulletin pertain to the 2014-2015 Qualifying Examination (QE) testing cycle.  This bulletin contains important information.  Please use it for reference throughout the testing and score reporting process.

Copyright © 2014 by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME®).  All rights reserved.   No part of this document may be reproduced without permission from the NBVME.

For general inquiries contact:
National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
P.O. Box 1356
Bismarck, ND 58502
Phone: (701) 224-0332
Fax: (701) 224-0435
Web site:


General Information

This bulletin contains procedural and policy information for the Qualifying Examination (QE).  You should become familiar with all aspects of this bulletin.  While every attempt has been made to provide accurate and definite information, the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME) may need to change or revise policies and procedures that affect the QE program.  Changes will be posted on the NBVME’s web site ( as soon as they are determined.

Test questions for the QE are written by faculty members at American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited veterinary schools in North America, and by other content experts.  With the assistance of staff from the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME®), each newly written test question is reviewed by a test development committee.  Questions that seem problematic are revised or discarded.  All accepted questions are then reviewed and validated by at least three content experts for accuracy, content relevance, importance, and difficulty.  The QE is prepared in a manner to meet the testing standards of the American Psychological Association.

All test questions used in the QE are owned solely by the NBVME and are copyrighted. Any reproduction by any means or distribution of QE questions without the express written authorization of the NBVME will result in appropriate legal action.  See the Irregular Behavior section of this bulletin for additional information.


Objective of the Qualifying Examination

The objective of the Qualifying Examination is to provide a comprehensive objective assessment of basic veterinary medical science knowledge, for use by veterinary schools.

Description of the Examination

The QE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions administered in two blocks of 100 questions each.
The QE is designed to assess your knowledge of basic veterinary medical sciences as taught during the pre-clinical portion of the curriculum at accredited veterinary colleges in North America.  Approximately 15 - 20% of the QE questions will include graphic or pictorial information (such as a chart, photograph or radiograph).

The QE is not designed to measure your ability to make diagnoses or manage clinical cases.  That knowledge and skill is assessed by the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE®).  A passing score on the NAVLE is required by all licensing boards in North America before you can be issued a license to practice veterinary medicine.

Registration Procedures for the QE

Veterinary schools wanting to use the QE will prepare candidate rosters and forward them to the NBVME office 40 days prior to the scheduled test administration.


Candidates with Documented Disabilities

If you have a documented disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and require test accommodations, you must contact your school official regarding arrangements for accommodations.  The school and the NBVME will cooperate to provide accommodations appropriate for your disability.


Payment of the QE Fee

The QE fee is $90 per candidate.  The NBVME will invoice schools for the number of candidates taking the examination.  Payment of the fee is determined by the individual veterinary school.

Web-Based Testing

The Qualifying Examination is given via the internet.  With this mode of testing, candidates log onto a secure web server using a unique password, and are then able to access the computer-based examination.  Testing is done at a test site, under the supervision of trained proctors, whose job it is to admit candidates, assist them in logging in to the web server, and ensure test security during the administration.

The QE may be taken on school computers or on a candidate’s personal computer.  Technical requirements for computers used to deliver the QE will be provided to the schools prior to the administration.  Both Windows and Apple operating systems are supported.  Each computer used for the QE must pass a hardware and software certification test before the examination can be accessed.

Testing Appointment and Location

Each school using the QE is responsible for arranging for a suitable location for the examination.


Candidates who Require Personal Items in the Testing Room

Unauthorized possession of personal items while you are in the secure areas of the test site is prohibited.  However, in certain limited circumstances, exceptions to this policy may be made for medical reasons, provided that permission is granted in advance of test day.  If you have a medical condition that requires you to use medication, an external appliance, or an electronic device in the secure areas of the test site, please submit a written request and documentation to your school official when the QE candidate roster is being prepared.  If the medical issue develops after the school has submitted its candidate roster, please contact the NBVME immediately.

Examples of appliances and devices to which this policy applies include, but are not limited to, insulin pumps, inhalers, medications, TENS units, hearing aids, wheelchairs, canes, crutches, and casts.  If you are unsure whether you should request an exception, please contact the NBVME.

You are not required to obtain advance permission to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses during testing, or to consume food or take medication on authorized breaks. All personal items, including those permitted as an exception under this policy, are subject to inspection at the test site. If you bring an item, including an appliance or device, to your examination without obtaining permission in advance, you may not be permitted to test, you may be required to relinquish the item, and/or you may be investigated for irregular behavior.

Preparing for the QE

One set of sample QE questions is reproduced in this bulletin.  The NBVME has published on this website two sets of sample questions, each containing 30 items.  These sample questions were chosen to represent the various content areas of the examination, but they do not necessarily address all of the QE content areas as defined below. The sets of sample questions are available on this website as separate files:

An additional set of sample test questions has been incorporated into a computer-based practice version of the QE.  The practice test uses the same tutorial and general software interface that is used to deliver the actual examination.  This software includes, among other features, clickable icons for marking questions to be reviewed, automated review of marked and incomplete questions, a clock indicating the time remaining in the test, and a help application.  Although the software is simple and intuitive, it is highly recommended that you practice before your test date, because practice at the test site will be limited to a 15-minute tutorial.

Testing Conditions

Policies and procedures governing administration of the examination have been established to ensure that no candidate or group of candidates receives unfair advantage on the examination, inadvertently or otherwise.  Efforts are made to ensure that the examination is administered under standard conditions and is consistent with the principles on which the examination is developed and scored.  However, if the integrity of the examination process is jeopardized, the NBVME reserves the right to invalidate all or any part of an examination.

Physical security of examination materials will be controlled through computerized, electronic transmission of encrypted data.  Observation of the testing sessions will be the responsibility of trained proctors.  Failure to adhere to the instructions of the proctors during the examination may result in a determination of irregular behavior.  Candidates observed engaging in possible violation of test administration rules or other forms of irregular behavior during an examination will not necessarily be told of the observation by the proctors at the time of the examination.

You are not permitted to bring to your testing station any personal belongings, including but not limited to, mechanical or electronic devices (such as calculators, digital watches, watches with computer communication and/or memory capability, recording or filming devices, radios, electronic paging devices, or cellular telephones), coats, jackets, brimmed hats, bookbags, backpacks, handbags, books, notes, study materials, food, or beverages.
If you bring any personal belongings to the test site, you will be required to store them in the area designated for personal belongings.  Upon reasonable suspicion, such personal belongings and their contents may be subject to inspection.  Any materials that are, or reasonably appear to be, a reproduction of any QE materials will be confiscated.  You are not permitted to make written notes of, or to record in any way, the contents of the QE. Any notes found will be confiscated.  Candidates may not use a telephone or other communication device or access reference materials at any point during the examination, including breaks, for any purpose related to test content.


General Instructions for Taking the Examination

You should arrive at the test site 30 minutes before your scheduled test time.  If you arrive late, you may not be admitted.  If you are permitted to take the QE after arriving late, no additional time will be given to make up for the delayed start, and break time may need to be forfeited.

When you arrive at the test site, you will be required to sign in on the log sheet, and you may be required to present appropriate identification (such as a driver’s license or school ID).  After you check in, you will be seated at your assigned testing station and given brief instructions on the use of the computer equipment.  Next, you will enter the access code you receive from the proctor and will have the option to complete a 15-minute tutorial prior to starting the first block of the examination.

You will have 110 minutes to complete each block of 100 questions.  All candidates will have the same number of questions and the same time allotment.  Within each block, you may answer questions in any order and review and/or change your answers.  When you exit a block, or when time expires, no further review of questions or changing of answers within that block is possible.  When you start a block of questions, no clock-stopping breaks are provided during that block.  Time taken by the computer to download test items and images is not counted in the testing time.  If you leave your testing station during a block, the proctor will report that fact as an irregular incident.  Breaks may be taken only between blocks.

The allotted break time between blocks is 45 minutes.  If you complete the tutorial or the first block in less time than allotted, the extra time will be available as additional break time.  The computer will keep track of the time elapsed for each testing block and for the entire day.  This may vary slightly from the time on the center’s clock, since the test time does not move forward while images and test items are loading on the computer.  Each time you take an authorized or unauthorized break during the testing day, you will be required to sign out when leaving and sign in when returning.  The examination ends when both blocks have been completed (or the total testing time for the day expires).  You will sign out as you leave the test site.  Once you start the examination, you cannot cancel or reschedule unless a technical problem requires rescheduling as described below.

In the event of a technical problem, the testing software is designed to allow the test to restart at the point it was interrupted.  In most cases, an examination can be restarted at the point of interruption with no loss of testing time.  However, it is possible that a technical problem may occur that requires the examination to be rescheduled at a later date.


Irregular Behavior

All QE candidates must agree with the following statement that will appear on the computer monitor before they will be able to take the examination:
“This examination contains test materials that are owned and copyrighted by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME).  Any reproduction of these materials or any part of them, through any means, including, but not limited to copying or printing of electronic files, reconstruction through memorization and/or dictation, and/or dissemination of these materials or any part of them is strictly prohibited.”

Irregular behavior is defined by the NBVME as any behavior that undermines the application, assessment, or certification processes of the NBVME.  Anyone having information or evidence that suspected irregular behavior has occurred should submit a written, signed statement to the NBVME providing a detailed description of the incident and/or circumstances and copies of any supporting documentation and evidence.  Insofar as possible, such reports will be handled confidentially; however, the NBVME will not investigate and/or act on unsigned or verbal reports.  Irregular behavior may occur prior to, during, and/or following examination application and administration.  Such behavior may include, but is not limited to, the following:

• disclosing examination information by using language that is substantially similar to that used in questions and/or answers from NBVME examinations when such information is gained as a direct result of having been an examinee; this includes, but is not limited to, disclosures to students in educational programs, graduates of educational programs, educators or anyone else involved in the preparation of candidates to sit for the examinations; and/or

• receiving examination information that uses language that is substantially similar to that used in questions and/or answers on NBVME examinations from an examinee, whether requested or not; and/or

• copying, publishing, reconstructing (whether by memory or otherwise), reproducing or transmitting any portion of examination materials by any means, verbal or written, electronic or mechanical, without the prior express written permission of NBVME or using professional, paid or repeat examination takers or any other individual for the purpose of reconstructing any portion of examination materials; and/or

• possessing unauthorized materials during an examination administration (e.g., recording devices, photographic equipment, electronic paging devices, cellular telephones, reference materials); and/or

• failure to adhere to test site regulations; and/or

• using or purporting to use any portion of examination materials which were obtained improperly or without authorization for the purpose of instructing or preparing any applicant for examination; and/or

• selling or offering to sell, buying or offering to buy, or distributing or offering to distribute any portion of examination materials without express written authorization; and/or

• removing or attempting to remove examination materials from an examination room, or having unauthorized possession of any portion of or information concerning a future, current, or previously administered examination of NBVME; and/or

• disclosing what purports to be, or under all circumstances is likely to be understood by the recipient as, any portion of or “inside” information concerning any portion of a future, current, or previously administered examination of NBVME; and/or

• communicating with another individual during administration of the examination for the purpose of giving or receiving help in answering examination questions, copying another candidate’s answers, permitting another candidate to copy one’s answers, or possessing unauthorized materials including, but not limited to notes (except on the provided scratch paper at the test site); and/or

• looking in the direction of the computer monitor or another candidate during the examination if such may reasonably be interpreted as affording the opportunity to copy the work of another candidate; and/or

• engaging in any conduct that materially disrupts any examination or that could reasonably be interpreted as threatening or abusive toward any examinee, proctor, or staff; and/or

• impersonating a candidate or permitting an impersonator to take or attempt to take the examination on one’s own behalf; and/or

• falsifying information on application or registration forms; and/or

• the use of any other means that potentially alters the results of the examination such that the results may not accurately represent the professional knowledge base of a candidate.

Any irregular behavior will be reported to the NBVME and will constitute grounds for the NBVME to:

• bar you from one or more future examinations or permanently; and/or

• terminate your participation in the examination; and/or

• invalidate the results of your examination and any prior examinations; and/or

• withhold your scores; and/or

• fine you in an amount that reflects damages suffered by NBVME, including its costs of investigation and the costs of replacing any items that must be removed from the item bank; and/or

• censure you; and/or

• sue you for damages and civil remedies; and/or

• pursue prosecution of you for any conduct that constitutes a criminal or civil violation; and/or

• take any other appropriate action.

Candidates also understand and agree that the NBVME may withhold their scores if the NBVME is presented with evidence demonstrating to the NBVME, in its sole discretion, that the security of the examination has been compromised, notwithstanding the absence of any evidence of their personal involvement in the compromising activities. Candidates further understand and agree that the examination and related materials utilized in the NBVME’s examinations are copyrighted as the sole property of the NBVME and must not be removed from the test site or reproduced in any way, and that reproduction of copyrighted material, in whole or in part, is a federal offense and may subject them to the sanctions listed above.

Any irregular behavior or violation of the test administration rules may, in the sole discretion of NBVME, be reported to the school.  In addition, if NBVME has reason to believe that a candidate may have engaged in irregular behavior, it may notify the school, even if the investigation is ongoing and no findings have been made.
If you have any questions or doubts about whether an activity might constitute irregular behavior, you should contact the NBVME Executive Director for clarification.


Score Reporting

As you take the QE, your responses will be recorded and stored by the web server.  After you complete testing, your responses will be transmitted to the NBME for scoring.  In the scoring of the QE, one point is awarded for each correct answer.  Test questions are not weighted, and additional points are not subtracted for incorrect responses.  After all responses are recorded, an analysis is conducted for each examination question that produces statistics descriptive of difficulty and discrimination.  When such analysis and/or candidate comments indicate the need, specific questions are reviewed again by one or more content experts to ensure that the answer key is correct.  Any question that fails to perform acceptably may be dropped from both the current scoring key and from the test question pool.  Examinations are then scored for all candidates.

A QE score report will be sent to the school approximately two weeks after the testing date, and the school will report your score to you.  Your score report will show your overall score and a breakdown of your score over the five main content areas.

QE scores may be used by the NBVME for statistical purposes and may be released to third parties provided all candidate identification has been deleted prior to release.



Examination Scores

Uniform and precise procedures ensure that the score reported for each candidate is an accurate reflection of the responses recorded by the computer, and the validity of scores has been historically verified.  You may confirm with the NBVME that the score reported to you is indeed the identical score as reported to the NBVME by the testing vendor.  QE candidates are not permitted to review their examinations.

Examination Conduct

If you believe that the administration of the examination or the examination conditions adversely affected your performance, for consideration, you must send a signed, written request to the NBVME for an investigation.  Such requests must be received by the NBVME within 10 days following your test date.  Indicate the date and location of the administration and provide a description of the event in as much detail as possible.  Each grievance will be evaluated.  If your grievance cannot be substantiated through analysis, or if it is determined that your performance was not adversely affected, the score as reported will stand. However, if your complaint can be supported, appropriate corrective action will be taken.


Examination Content

The QE is constructed using the following examination blueprint.

    Anatomy 22% (includes gross and microscopic anatomy, developmental anatomy, physical         examination, and principles of radiology and diagnostic imaging)

    Physiology 23% (includes organ physiology, physiological chemistry, genetics, nutrition, and         breeding)

    Pharmacology 14% (includes pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, therapeutics, toxicology, and         anesthesia/analgesia)
    Microbiology 20% (includes bacteriology, mycology, virology, parasitology, immunology,         diagnostics, and public health (regulatory, epidemiology, and zoonoses))

    Pathology 21% (includes general pathology, gross pathology, histopathology, pathogenesis, and         clinical pathology (cytology and data analysis/diagnostics))

Unlike the blueprint used for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), the QE blueprint does not classify items by animal species or veterinary practice role.  Many items on the QE are not species specific, or are applicable to more than one species.  The examination includes items dealing with all animal species that might be encountered by veterinarians in private clinical practice in North America.


Test Question Format

The QE includes only single questions with one best answer.  They consist of a statement or question followed, in most cases, by five options arranged in alphabetical or logical order (a few items may have four or six options).  The response options for all questions are lettered (e.g., A, B, C, D, E).  Examinees are required to select the best answer to the question.  Other options may be partially correct, but there is only one best answer.

Strategies for Answering Single One Best Answer Questions

• Read each question carefully.  It is important to understand what is being asked.

• Try to generate an answer and then look for it in the list of options.

• Alternatively, read each option carefully and eliminate those that are clearly incorrect.  Of the remaining options, select the one that is most correct.

• If you are unsure about an answer, it is better to guess, because unanswered questions are counted as wrong answers.


Strategies for Answering Single One Best Answer Questions

• Read each question carefully.  It is important to understand what is being asked.

• Try to generate an answer and then look for it in the list of options.

• Alternatively, read each option carefully and eliminate those that are clearly incorrect.  Of the remaining options, select the one that is most correct.

• If you are unsure about an answer, it is better to guess, because unanswered questions are counted as wrong answers.