The Certification & Examination Process

 The examination process consists of successfully completing three steps:


1) Application and Initial Screening for Eligibility as a Candidate by ABPP and ABFP


2) The Written Examination


3) The Oral Examination, based upon two Practice Samples, to assess:


              a. Knowledge in the candidate’s Primary Areas of Practice; and


              b. Forensic Ethics and Professional Practice


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, and evidence of continuing education during the postdoctoral years; and appropriate licensing for psychological practice in the state in which the candidate practices, or in some state if practicing in a federal facility. Requirements specific to forensic specialization additionally include: at least 100 hours of formal education, direct supervision or continuing education in forensic psychology; and at least 1000 hours of experience in forensic psychology obtained in either of two ways (i.e., completion of a full-time, at least one year, postdoctoral training program in forensic psychology, meeting curriculum requirements consistent with APA’s definition of forensic psychology as a specialty, or during a minimum period of five years, at least four years of which are postdoctoral).


The Written Examination


The written examination provides a structured, objective method for assessing the depth and breadth of the candidate’s knowledge of forensic psychology. The breadth of forensic knowledge is assessed by an objective, written examination that include questions pertaining to eight major topic areas of forensic psychology:


1) Ethics, Guidelines, and Professional Issues

2) Law, Precedents, Court Rules, and Civil and Criminal Procedure

3) Testing and Assessment, Judgment and Bias, and Examination Issues

4) Civil Competence, Individual Rights and Liberties

5) Juvenile, Parenting, and Family/Domestic/Matrimonial Matters

6) Civil Damages, Personal Injury, Disability, and Workers Compensation

7) Criminal Competence

8) Criminal Responsibility


The written examination consists of 200 four-foil multiple choice questions and must be completed in no more than 3.5 hours. The written examination questions cover a variety of content areas cited above. These proctored exams are regularly offered in a variety of locations around the country and in conjunction with American Academy of Forensic Psychology Continuing Education seminars. Prior to taking the written examination a registration/fee of $200.00 must be submitted to the ABPP Central Office. 


The Oral Examination Including the Practice Samples


The candidate then participates in an Oral Examination centers upon the candidate’s two Practice Samples. These Practice Samples are seen as exemplars of the candidate’s forensic work, and form the basis for questions concerning the candidate’s competencies in the two primary areas of practice as well as forensic ethics. The Practice Samples. The candidate is required to submit the "Forensic Practice Sample" (e.g., forensic examination, peer reviewed article, forensic treatment protocol) along with supplementary materials. Each of the two "Practice Samples" now consists of four parts: a table of contents, a curriculum vitae or resume, the "forensic practice sample" (e.g., forensic examination, peer reviewed article, forensic treatment protocol), and supplementary materials which typically will include test data and relevant collateral information, publications, case law, and statutes. The Practice Sample should include sufficient case material for examiners to understand what the candidate did and the factual basis for the candidate’s conclusions. Prior to or when submitting the Practice Samples the registration/fee of $250.00 should be sent to the ABPP Central Office. Once your practice samples have been approved you will need to submit the Oral Exam registration/fee of $450.00 to the ABPP Central Office.


The Oral Examination


Once a candidate has passed the written examination, the remainder of the Board certification process is focused on the candidate’s primary areas of forensic practice. The two primary areas are reflected in the candidate’s choice of Practice Samples and the candidate’s stated areas of practice. In addition, the candidate will be asked questions about ethics as they apply to the Practice Samples and to forensic practice in general. For psychologists, the paradigm is familiar: this new approach is similar to the later stages of graduate education in which the doctoral student completes general examinations, followed by a dissertation and its defense.  


Each of us on the Board, and each member of the Academy of Forensic Psychology encourage you to apply and wish you success. We will gladly provide you assistance and support in helping you successfully complete this instructive and rewarding process. The goal of certifications in Forensic Psychology is a high one, and we believe that you will find it gratifying to be a Board Certified Forensic Psychologist.












Follow ABPP on Facebook