What is CertLink?
CertLink® is a longitudinal assessment program, developed for American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Member Boards. The program will periodically deliver nuclear medicine questions with detailed explanations and references directly to ABNM diplomates as an alternative to the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) examination.
Based on adult learning theory, CertLink questions and explanations provide repeated exposure to relevant information as a way to test and expand knowledge. The process helps individuals fill knowledge gaps and demonstrate proficiency. The questions will be image rich and high quality with practice-relevant content.
The ABNM CertLink pilot was launched in January 2018 and concluded in 2021. It was made a permanent part of the ABNM’s Maintenance of Certification Program in 2021.
Enrollment and Eligibility
When can I enroll?
- Enrollment is now open for all eligible diplomates:
- Diplomates with time-limited certificates expiring in 2018 – 2026 must already be enrolled in CertLink to obtain Maintenance of Certification credit.
- Diplomates with time-limited certificates expiring after 2026 have no specific enrollment deadline yet but are encouraged to begin participating as soon as possible. The enrollment deadline for these diplomates will be announced during 2021.
- Diplomates with lifetime certificates may enroll at any time.
How do I enroll?
The enrollment form is available on the ABNM website at https://www.abnm.org/index.php/certlinktm/. Make sure your contact information on the enrollment form corresponds to the information in “My Profile” on the ABNM website (www.abnm.org). You may update “My Profile” by logging onto the website anytime. ABNM will reply with a message confirming your enrollment.
Diplomates will be asked to complete surveys prior to, during, and immediately following participation each year. Each of the surveys will take 5-10 minutes to complete.
How do I know if I am eligible?
All diplomates with unexpired, time-limited certificates or with lifetime certificates are eligible to participate if they have not been subject to any ABNM disciplinary actions (probation, suspension, or revocation of certification) in the past 10 years. Diplomates must be current with MOC requirements, including Part 2 (Lifelong learning and self-assessment) and Part 4 (Improvement in Medical Practice). The ABNM has made it easier for diplomates to fulfill the requirements, and has added a checkbox to the My Profile page on the ABNM website that allows diplomates to attest they meet the requirements. Diplomates with expired certificates must first pass the MOC examination if their certificate expired within the previous 5 years. Diplomates with certificates expired longer than 5 years must first pass the Certification examination.
Are there other incentives to participate in CertLink?
You will receive 1 hour of MOC self-assessment module (SAM) credit for each 6 questions attempted (including new questions and “clones”), which will help fulfill the MOC Part II annual SAM requirement. AMA Category 1 continuing medical education (CME) credit is unavailable. Once you recertify using CertLink, you are eligible for 60 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. You may apply for the AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM by completing the online application directly through the AMA Ed Hub at https://edhub.ama-assn.org.
How much does it cost?
There is no difference in cost between participating in CertLink versus taking the MOC examination for diplomates who are currently participating in MOC. To participate in CertLink, diplomates must be current with annual MOC dues, and pay the same fee paid by diplomates who will take the MOC exam in the current year. Diplomates who continue to participate in CertLink will only have to pay the annual MOC dues, which is currently $500.
Can I still take the MOC examination prior to expiration of my certification, or do I have to enroll in CertLink?
CertLink is being offered as an alternative to the MOC examination. You may take the MOC examination instead of participating in CertLink.
If I take the MOC examination, can I still participate in CertLink?
If you start participating in CertLink and take the MOC examination, you must pass the MOC examination to continue to participate in CertLink. If you pass the MOC examination, you will receive a new time-limited certificate.
If I have a lifetime certificate and enroll in CertLink, will my lifetime certificate be replaced with a new certificate?
You will always have a lifetime certificate, and your participation in CertLink is voluntary, but you may choose to participate in CertLink for the educational benefits as well as to fulfill the requirements of MOC.
Diplomates with lifetime certificate who participate in CertLink and meet all MOC standards, will be designated as “Participating in MOC” on the ABMS public website, www.certificationmatters.org.
If I have a time-limited certificate, will I get a new certificate?
Diplomates who meet the CertLink passing standard will get a new time-limited certificate when their current certificate expires.
Before you start: Technical Requirements
How do I receive program related emails?
To ensure that you receive the ABNM CertLink emails, please add the following addresses to your spam or quarantine safe sender lists: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Can I use my cellphone or tablet to receive and answer questions?
The browser-based CertLink platform is optimized for PC and Mac computers. Using a cell phone or tablet is not recommended, because it may be difficult to view images on a small device, particularly for questions with multiple images.
What browser should I use?
Any browser that is up to date. Your browser of choice may already be set up to update automatically.
What type of Internet connection should I have? Can I use a wireless network?
Both wired and wireless networks are supported. Testing requires a stable connection and wireless networks can introduce reliability and performance issues. The software allows test takers to easily reconnect when an error occurs, but an unreliable connection can impact testing. We recommend that before answering questions you click the Readiness option on the upper right menu to evaluate your network speed and connectivity.
At a minimum you should have the following:
|Download Speed:||> 15 Mbps|
|Upload Speed:||> 2 Mbps|
If your internet connection does not meet these requirements, we recommend that you use a different network or device. If you are using a wireless network, you can try a wired connection.
How can I check my device to verify it can deliver my assessment?
Your device should be checked to verify it is properly configured for testing. Please click the Readiness option on the upper right menu. Once the Readiness check is complete, please review the results. Please contact support if you have any questions or issues. For best results, run the Readiness check prior to answering questions.
Can workplace security settings impact my assessment?
Check with your IT department to ask about the presence of a proxy server. While the presence of a proxy server is usually not a cause for concern, if you plan to answer questions in a workplace environment, you may also want to consider answering questions on a non-work network or computer to help ensure an optimal user experience.
If you encounter any technical issues, please go to the Readiness option on the upper right menu to run a system check. Contact support if you have any questions or need further assistance.
Do I have to allow pop-ups?
Pop-up blockers may prevent external articles from opening. Additionally, the Readiness check in the upper right menu creates a pop-up window that runs a sample test. This window may be blocked by a pop-up blocker and cause an error in the system check. By configuring pop-up blockers to only allow pop-ups from the testing site, the security of the pop-up blocker software is not compromised. Simply add *.starttest.com to your pop-up blocker’s list of allowed sites.
The privacy of examinees, their personal information, and the test materials are extremely important. Session cookies are used to track the current test each examinee is taking. A session cookie is a special type of cookie that is only stored in memory, and is automatically deleted when the user closes the browser. Session cookies are used to track a user’s current state during their visit, and require that session cookies be enabled to use the site. These cookies are automatically removed when the browser is closed. We do not use or support cookies that in any way are used to track an individual’s Internet usage outside of our own web site.
Can I test on desktops running under VMWare or other virtual machines?
No. The software will explicitly detect and block the starting of tests on virtual machines.
How do I get support?
You can request support in the platform by clicking “Support” in the upper right menu or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If needed, an ABNM CertLink® support agent will follow-up with you as soon as possible. ABNM office hours are Monday thru Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm Central Time.
What is my username and password?
Your username is the email address that you provided ABNM when registering for CertLink and your password will be sent in an email message with instructions. If you have set your password but have forgotten it, you can request a reset link by clicking “Reset Password” on the login page.
What’s on my dashboard?
The Dashboard provides real-time assessment performance and progress information.
- Community Comparison: The comparison of your performance (percent of the questions answered correctly) to peers who have answered the same questions. Because other diplomates answer questions at different times, you may see these numbers fluctuate.
- Your Performance: Your individual assessment performance, represented by the percent of the questions answered correctly.
Note about scoring: To promote learning and retention, you will sometimes see a question that’s similar to one from a previous quarter, particularly if you answered the question incorrectly (this is the concept of using clone questions in spaced repetition). For scoring purposes, we count these two questions as a single question, with the score of the most recently answered question included in the “Your Performance” calculation. For example, if you answered the first question incorrectly, and the clone question correctly, these are counted as one question answered correctly. As a result, you may see a small discrepancy between “Your Performance” and the actual percentage calculated from your correct and incorrect answers.
- Progress: The number of remaining questions to answer and by when, plus the percentage of questions you’ve answered for the current quarter, e.g. 40% complete.
- Your Assessment Overview: The timeline which displays each quarter of the assessment period, past, current and future.
How many questions do I have to answer?
You will receive 9 new questions each quarter and up to 4 additional questions that are identical or very similar to questions you previously answered (called “clones”).
What type of questions will I receive?
You will receive 4 new questions in each of the 9 major exam categories (Basic Science, Cardiovascular, Endocrine, Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Musculoskeletal, Neurology, Oncology, and Pulmonary). All questions will be multiple-choice, and many will have images.
Questions will be presented in a random order unless you choose to group questions together by category to focus your learning and self-assessment in specific areas.
How often do I need to answer a question?
You will be able to access all questions for one quarter at the beginning of that quarter. You will receive an email or text with a link to the questions at the beginning of the quarter, and you must answer all questions by the quarter’s end. You may choose the rate at which you progress through each quarter’s questions. For example, you may answer one question a week, all of the questions at one time, or any frequency in between.
Can I use the Internet and other educational resources to answer questions?
Yes, diplomates may use other types of educational resources as needed as long as the question is answered in the allotted time. However, the time allotted for a question will typically not provide time for extensive review of educational resources.
Can I consult with my colleagues or peers when answering questions?
No, assessment is considered an individual activity. You may not use “recalled” questions or answers, or any type of information provided by other diplomates.
How do I start answering questions?
Click the “Assessment Details” button on the Progress card or click “Assessment” in the left navigation menu. You will be taken to the Assessment Details page where you can choose to answer questions by clicking “Start Assessment” for random topic delivery or clicking “Begin” in a specific content.
Can I choose which questions to answer?
On the Assessment Details page, you will see a breakdown of the content comprising your assessment. There you can choose the content area to begin answering questions.
How much time do I have to answer a question?
Once you open a question, you will typically have 5 minutes per question to submit your answer. The amount of time remaining will be displayed.
Will my question be marked incorrect if I don’t submit an answer before the timer expires?
If you have an option selected but don’t click to submit, the selected option will be automatically submitted as your answer and scored. If no option is selected when the timer expires, the question will be marked incorrect.
Can I skip a question and return to it later after I’ve opened it?
No, you must answer the question within the allotted time. An unanswered question is scored as an incorrect response.
If I answer a question incorrectly, can I try again?
Any questions answered incorrectly are eligible to be redelivered to you in subsequent segments. Answering the question correctly later will result in the replacement of the previous incorrect score, thus improving your performance.
How do I review questions after answering them?
You can review the rationales and references related to all questions you have answered in the past by using the “Question History” option on the left navigation menu. There you can also submit feedback about the content of a question to ABNM.
What happens if I don’t complete the assessment items within the quarter or my computer times out before I complete an answer?
Any items left unanswered at the end of a quarter will be marked as incorrect/forfeited. Any questions that time out will be marked as incorrect. You will be able to revisit these questions and any other incorrect questions as clones in future segments.
How do I leave feedback?
- Please complete your Castor surveys.
- For item-specific feedback: You can submit feedback about question content using the Feedback button at the top of the Critique page after each question or on the Question History page.
- For technical issues, general feedback about the platform, or inquiries regarding policies: please send an email to email@example.com or create a support ticket by clicking Support on the upper right menu within the platform.
Tracking Progress and Receiving Feedback
How will I know if I answered a question correctly or incorrectly?
You will receive immediate feedback for each answer you submit. CertLink will also display your cumulative performance over time, as well as a dashboard to show your areas of strength and weakness in each question category.
What type of feedback will I receive in regard to my performance?
After answering each question, you will receive a “critique” which indicates the correct answer, key learning point, and a brief review of the topic, including an explanation of why the options were correct or incorrect. At least one reference will also be provided.
What happens if I answer a question incorrectly?
You may receive the same question, or a very similar question (clone), typically in the next quarter. If you answer a question correctly on the second presentation, this will count for your final score (replaces your incorrect response on the initial presentation). You may also receive the same question or clone a second time if you answered a question correctly with low confidence (“guess”). Spaced repetition of questions reinforces learning.
What if I don’t answer all the questions?
You must answer all new questions (9 per quarter and 36 per year) in order to fulfill the requirements of meaningful participation, which is defined as answering distributed questions within the specified time frame for each year of the pilot program. Answering up to an additional 16 repeated questions or clones per year is optional for meaningful participation, but may be necessary to achieve a passing score.
What is a passing score?
A psychometrically validated passing score will be determined each year. The percentage correct required to pass will typically be 50-60%, but will vary depending on the difficulty of the questions.
What happens if I don’t achieve a passing score?
If you don’t achieve a passing score at the end of the fourth year of your participation, you will receive a warning and be given the option of taking the MOC examination. You may continue to participate in CertLink, but if you still do not achieve a passing score by the fifth year of participation, will need to pass the MOC examination before your certificate expires in order to re-certify.
Does the system allow for special accommodations?
CertLink can accommodate special needs as currently provided by the MOC examination (for example, extra time for those who qualify). You must submit the same documentation required for the MOC examination in order to receive appropriate accommodation for special needs.
What if I have a life emergency or need a break?
CertLink is designed with flexibility for emergencies and qualifying life events, with appropriate documentation. Requests should be submitted in advance by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I provide feedback?
You will be able to provide feedback on each question after you submit your answer and read the critique. The ABNM will also survey all participating diplomates at least once a year to improve CertLink.
I see a “Page not found” message.
“Page not found” errors can result from a number of different problems. Use the following checklist to try to resolve this problem.
- Try clicking the Refresh button on your browser to reload the page.
- Check to see if you can access other sites to make sure that your internet connection is functioning properly.
- Check to make sure that your web browser and internet connection meet the minimum system requirements listed in Technical Requirements.
- Check to make sure that your anti-virus, firewall, proxy and content filter systems are configured to allow inbound and outbound traffic from the starttest.com sites (you may need assistance from your IT department to check these settings).
If you have checked all of these possible issues, and you still receive the “Page not found” error, you will need to contact Support for further assistance.
Some of the navigation buttons are not appearing or the test is locking up.
If you have anti-virus or firewall software installed on your machine, it may be interfering with question delivery. This software may be a stand-alone application such as Norton or may be part of your browser. Most of these packages allow you to configure them to allow access to sites you approve as safe. Please refer to the help component of your anti-virus or firewall software for further assistance.
My test is slow.
Click Readiness on the upper right menu to run a system check. If you have a fast internet connection and questions are taking more than five seconds to load, verify that you do not have performance problems connecting to other sites. If you believe it is a problem with the testing site, please contact Support.
I cannot find an answer to my problem. How do I get support?
You can request support by clicking “Support” on the login page or within the platform and submitting a ticket. You can also send an email to email@example.com. An ABNM CertLink® support agent will follow-up with you within the ABNM office hours of Monday thru Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm Central Time.
New Features and Updates
What’s new in CertLink 2021?
FAQs, Support, and Readiness system check available on both the login page and in the platform, on the upper right menu.
You are presented with any unread notifications upon logging in. These messages can be viewed at any time by going to the Messages icon on the upper right menu.
Updated cards on your dashboard separate your performance (the percentage of questions answered correctly) and your progress through the assessment (percentage of questions that have been answered).
You can now edit your email from your profile page.
You can specify your time zone. On the last day of a segment, the end time of 11:59 pm EST will display according to your time zone.
Improved user experience when answering questions:
- A button by every option and a new strike out icon make answer selection more intuitive.
- If an option is selected but you don’t submit your answer before the time runs out, the selected option will be automatically submitted as your answer.
- Highlighting is now automatic when you select text in the question.