The Certification & Examination Process

The examination process consists of successfully completing four steps:

  1. 1) Application and Initial Screening for Eligibility as a Candidate by ABPP and ABFP
  3. 2) The Written Examination
  5. 3) The Review of Practice Samples
  7. 4) The Oral Examination

Initial Screening for Eligibility by ABPP and ABFP


Applicants for ABPP candidacy with specialization in forensic psychology must meet general requirements applied to all ABPP candidates and additional requirements specific to the forensic specialization.  General ABPP requirements are described in detail in the ABPP generic application materials.  Simplified, they require: a doctoral degree from a program in professional psychology (e.g., clinical psychology or counseling psychology) from a graduate program that was APA-approved at the time the degree was awarded, or that offered a curriculum that was the equivalent of APA requirements; completion of an appropriate APA-approved internship, or an internship that offered the equivalent of APA requirements; current engagement in professional work in the relevant specialty; evidence of continuing education after the completion of the doctoral degree; and appropriate licensing for psychological practice in the state in which the candidate practices, or in some state if practicing in a federal facility.


Policy on Representation of Affiliation by Applicants and Candidates


By submitting an application for board certification all applicants and candidates agree to abide by ABFP’s policy regarding representation of affiliation by applicants and candidates.  ABFP does not permit applicants or candidates to represent their status in relation to ABFP/ABPP in any manner during the pendency of their application or candidacy.  Applicants and candidates may not indicate publicly that they are an applicant or a candidate for board certification by ABFP/ ABPP nor are they permitted to do so with their curriculum vitae or any written or oral statement of qualifications. Additionally, ABPP and ABFP do not use, authorize, or recognize the term “Board Eligible” or similar terms. Applicants and candidates may not use this term to represent any relationship or status with either Board nor may applicants or candidates represent to any outside person or entity that they have met the minimum requirements as an applicant or candidate for ABFP or ABPP.   Failure to abide by these terms may be grounds to terminate an applicant’s candidacy.  


Requirements specific to forensic specialization additionally include:

  1. 1) At least 100 hours of qualifying specialized training in forensic psychology obtained after the completion of the doctoral degree.  This may consist of APA-approved continuing education in forensic psychology, the accumulated hours of one-on-one supervision by a qualified forensic professional, and/or completing a formal didactic graduate-level course after the completion of the doctoral degree; AND 
  3. 2) Experience in forensic psychology after the completion of the doctoral degree obtained by either a) accumulating 1000 hours of direct experience in forensic psychology over a minimum of five years, or b) completing a full-time, at least 2000 hour, formal postdoctoral training program in forensic psychology that meets the requirements described in ABFP’s Experience Waiver and Postdoctoral Training in Forensic Psychology Guidelines.

The Written Examination


The written examination is intended to provide a uniform way to assess the Candidate’s breadth of forensic knowledge.  Therefore, the examination consists of 197 multiple choice questions focusing on seven categories of forensic psychology (e.g., landmark legal cases, child forensic matters, criminal legal issues).  The standard does not require depth in each of these areas, but sufficient general knowledge to demonstrate the Candidate’s broad base of knowledge within forensic psychology.  (Click here for more details about the content, location, and recommended study materials for the written exam.)


The Review of Practice Samples


Candidates who pass the written exam are invited to submit two practice samples that are reviewed for their suitability for use in the oral examination.  Practice samples typically are two forensic reports written by the Candidate in actual practice.  The two practice samples should demonstrate the Candidate’s competence in two separate and distinct areas of forensic psychology.  The choice of practice sample areas will define the primary areas in which the Candidate is further evaluated during the oral examination.  The practice samples are evaluated by ABFP board-certified forensic psychologists using structured criteria.  If either or both of the practice samples is not appropriate for use in the oral examination, Candidates are offered a time frame in which to submit different practice samples.  (Click here for details about requirements for practice samples and their evaluation.)


The Oral Examination


When the practice samples are deemed suitable, the Candidate is scheduled for an oral examination within three to nine months after practice sample approval.  The ABFP National Chair of Examinations submits the practice samples to three ABFP board-certified forensic psychologists who will serve as the Candidate’s oral examination committee.  The oral examination focuses on the Candidate’s two primary areas of forensic practice as exemplified by the practice samples, and further focuses in a more general fashion upon forensic ethics.  For each practice sample, the Candidate is examined with regard to his or her forensic work product, the supporting documentation that the Candidate submitted, and a range of legal, ethical, research, and practice issues relevant for the area of practice the practice sample represents.  (Click here for further details about the oral examination.)

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