AO Spine Global Diploma Exam

Certify your knowledge and advance your career.

The AO Spine Global Diploma (GDP) Exam is a formal assessment of competencies required to manage patients with spinal disorders.

It is designed for experienced spine surgeons who want to certify their knowledge and enables candidates to demonstrate that they have attained a level of knowledge expected of a specialist spine surgeon after 5 years of practical experience.

The Global Diploma is valid five (5) years from the date of examination.


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Exam details

Based on the AO Spine Curriculum

Two-part exam:

1) Part I is based on multiple-choice questions
2) Part II is an online exam with case-based essays

All details here

Note: The exam is not a compulsory or regulatory certificate of competence or excellence. It does not certify technical skills or ability to perform surgical procedures.

AO Spine Global diploma

Exam benefits

  • Accredits theoretical knowledge in spine surgery at an international level
  • Reveals gaps in knowledge
  • Successful candidates profit from AO Spine’s credibility and reputation as the leading global academic community in spine
Fee

Exam fees

  • Administrative fee CHF 100 upon applying for the eligibility check of the candidate (non-refundable)
  • The diploma exam fee CHF 600 (VAT included) includes both exam parts
Global Diploma certified examiners

Eligibility

  • Exam is for experienced spine surgeons who want to certify their knowledge
  • Surgeons with at least 5 years’ experience in spine surgery since completing orthopedic, neurosurgery, or trauma specialty training
  • Open to AO Spine members

Not a member yet? Select your membership package here.

The application for the 2021 Global Diploma Exam is closed.

For more information, please contact our AO Spine staff at globalspinediploma@aospine.org.

AO Spine Global Diploma Exam applicants 2019 by region

AO Spine Global Diploma Exam—quick links

If you have any questions, please contact us via e-mail at globalspinediploma@aospine.org

GDP Exam Part I—Examination

  • General information
    • The written exam consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs).
    • The duration of the written exam is 150 minutes.
    • The AO Spine Global Diploma Exam will be offered in English language only.
    • The test will be taken under proctored conditions at test centers worldwide. 
  • Who can take the Global Diploma Exam
    • AO Spine members
    • Spine surgeons who want to certify their knowledge
    • Surgeons with at least 5 years’ experience in spine surgery since completing orthopedic, neurosurgery or trauma specialty training
    Important: Members of the AO Spine Faculty Management task force, AO Spine Training Program Committee members, the Exam Committee members, or surgeons who have been involved in the Part I and/or Part II exam preparation, are not eligible for the Global Diploma Exam.
  • When should you take the exam

    • You are eligible for the exam once you have finalized your training in ortho and neuro-surgery and gained at least 5 years of experience in surgical practice in spinal surgery

  • How to apply
    1. Submit your CV and evidence of specialist qualifications in orthopedics or neurosurgery for at least five years via e-mail to globalspinediploma@aospine.org. Please download and save the file on your device, before filling in and signing it.
    2. Register yourself for the eligibility check and pay the administrative fee of CHF 100 You can find the registration in the AO Spine Course finder. 
  • Application process
    • Applications will be assessed by the Examination Committee within two weeks after the application has been submitted.
    • For the application process, candidates need to pay a non-refundable administrative fee of 100 CHF.
    • Eligible candidates will be notified and invited to register within one (1) week for the Part I examination by paying the non-refundable examination fee.
    • For the Part I exam, places are available on a first come, first served basis. If there are more eligible candidates than places available, candidates are able to add their names to a waiting list.
    • Please contact AO Spine on globalspinediploma@aospine.org if you have any questions.
  • Diploma registration fee
    • The administrative fee of CHF 100 is due upon application for the eligibility check of the candidate and is non-refundable.
    • The Diploma Exam registration fee is includes both the Part I and Part II examinations.
  • Passing the exam

    • Candidates who are successful at the Part I exam will be invited to the Part II exam
    • The Part II exam takes place online under proctored conditions.
    • Candidates who are unsuccessful in the Part I exam will not be invited to take the Part II exam but may retake the Part I exam at the next opportunity by paying the examination fee again.
    • There is no refund of the fee if the candidate fails to pass either of the two exam components.

  • Passing criteria
    • The pass mark for the AO Spine Global Diploma Exam is set by the Examination Committee using criterion-referenced methods based on the Angoff method.
    • The standard of the examination is the knowledge of a spine surgeon who has been in practice for at least five (5) years.
    • Feedback will be provided to unsuccessful exam candidates.
  • Further information

    • Candidates undertaking the examination can expect to be treated with respect and not subjected to bias or discrimination.
    • AO Spine will ensure the highest possible transparency and fairness in the evaluation of the candidates.
    • If English isn't your first language, it's essential that your English language skills are good enough for you to undertake an intensive and challenging exam in English.
    • The AO Spine Global Diploma Exam is not a mandatory exam in order to be eligible as AO Spine faculty.

GDP Exam Part II—Examination

  • General information
    • The Part II is an online exam organized under proctored conditions.
    • It will be a case-based exam in an essay style format following the AO Spine Curriculum and candidates will have to answer a number of questions on the cases provided.
    • The cases are standardized clinical case scenarios in trauma, deformity, tumor, infection, and degeneration, and are based on the
    AO Spine Curriculum.
    • The total duration of the Part II exam is 130 minutes.
    • The Part II exam will be conducted in English.
  • When should you take the exam
    • After you have passed the Part I exam of the AO Spine Global Diploma and AO Spine staff has invited you to register.
  • How to apply
    • Eligible candidates will be invited to register for the Part II examination after they have passed the Part I component of the AO Spine Global Diploma Exam.
    • The Part II exam takes place online, unless prohibited by local law or other circumstances. Then it will be organized in one of the worldwide Pearson Vue exam test centers.
    • If required, candidates must make their own travel and accommodation arrangements to a test center venue.
    • Please contact AO Spine on globalspinediploma@aospine.org if you have any questions.
  • The exam
    • The Part II exam will be organized through a proctored online tool that allows the candidates to join their exam from their homes.
    • Due to possible firewall problems, AO Spine highly recommends setting up the exam at the candidate’s home rather than the clinical environment.
    • Details for prior testing will be provided by our exam partner, Pearson Vue.
  • Passing the exam
    • The pass mark for the AO Spine Global Diploma Exam is set by the Examination Committee and criterion referenced.
    • Feedback will be provided to unsuccessful exam candidates.
    • Candidates who are unsuccessful at the Part II test may retake the exam at the next opportunity by paying a reduced examination fee without having to re-sit the Part I MCQ exam again.
    • For re-application, please contact globalspinediploma@aospine.org.
  • Conflict of interest
    • The names of the candidates presenting for the Part II component will be made known to the examiners in advance, and vice-versa. Any concern about a potential conflict of interest by a candidate or examiner must be notified immediately to the Examination Committee in time to allow suitable arrangements to be made if necessary.
  • Further information
    • Candidates undertaking the examination can expect to be treated with respect and not subjected to bias or discrimination.
    • AO Spine will ensure the highest possible transparency and fairness in the evaluation of the candidates.
    • If English isn't your first language, it's essential that your English language skills are good enough for you to undertake an intensive and challenging exam in English.
    • The AO Spine Global Diploma Exam is not a mandatory exam in order to be eligible as AO Spine faculty.
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