The ABT Board is pleased to announce the following changes for the 2022 certification examination:

  • The examination will consist of 160 questions (140 scored and 20 unscored pre-test items).
  • With this change, the examination will now be administered during a four-hour block of time.
  • The examination content outline will be updated to reflect results of the recently completed practice analysis.
  • The examination fee will be $400 for 2022.

Background and Rationale

To follow best practices in the certification industry, the ABT Board is continually reviewing and refining practices and procedures. The most recent notable change occurred in 2017, when the ABT certification exam changed from a two-day, three-part exam to a one-day exam consisting of 200 questions graded as a whole. The new exam format was based on domains and tasks from the Practice Analysis completed in 2016.  In addition, the number of answer choices for each question was reduced from five to four.

In 2021, the Board conducted another practice analysis to ensure the examination content remains current and relevant to the active practice of toxicology. The new Practice Analysis resulted in changes to the domains, tasks and knowledge used by toxicologists. To ensure the continued validity of the ABT certification examination, the test specifications have been refined and updated. The 2022 examination outline has been updated to reflect these new specifications, with many previous domains and tasks being moved and re-categorized.  Overall, while the content outline has changed, the majority of previous content is still included in the updated blueprint with the addition of some new tasks and knowledge statements. Also in 2021, the examination was administered electronically at computer-based testing centers located throughout the world for the first time, providing a wealth of data enabling statistical analysis of the time required to answer each question on the exam.

After reviewing the results of the new practice analysis, time data and candidate feedback from the 2021 2021 examination, the Board contracted with the consulting company, ACT ProExam, to perform a reliability study to determine the optimal length of the exam.  The goal of the study was to determine the number of operational questions that are required to establish face validity and yield reliability estimates comparable to those produced by the current 200-item operational form of the DABT exam, while still conforming to the test specifications for the exam.  The study included two steps—a theoretical prediction of the reliability of shortened forms of the exam and the empirical validation of the theoretical prediction. The results indicated that shortening the examination to 140 operational (scored) items will produce essentially similar psychometric properties to those produced by the current 200-item DABT exam. In addition, after reviewing the amount of time spent on each question on the 2021 examination, a total examination time of 3 to 4 hours for 140 operational and 20 pre-test items is supported by the data.

The 2022 examination will again be administered at computer-based testing centers.  The Board is optimistic that the shortened duration will ease some of the scheduling difficulties that resulted from a test requiring over seven hours of reserved seat time at testing centers on a single day.  This shortened exam duration also allowed for a decrease in the examination fee which will be $400 in 2022.

Please utilize the Candidate Handbook for all information regarding applications, eligibility, and exam format and administration.


Standard setting is a technique used to determine the passing test score that corresponds to a minimally qualified candidate for the ABT exam. When the initial form of an examination is developed following a job analysis, a criterion referenced Standard Setting exercise is conducted. Such a study ensures that passing the examination depends on the amount of knowledge displayed, not on the population of candidates taking the exam. The standard setting process uses a committee of subject matter experts (SMEs) who are representative of the toxicology profession and come from diverse backgrounds. Under the guidance of a psychometrician, the SMEs identify the point on the theoretical continuum that separates the test taker who is minimally competent from one who is not. The participants then examine each individual item on the exam, taking into account the difficulty of each. When the process is complete, the knowledge standard is able to be translated into a passing score.