ACVCP Diplomate Exams


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The specialty of veterinary clinical pharmacology requires an advanced knowledge of the factors that complicate rational drug use for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in animals. This examination will evaluate the depth and breadth of the candidate's knowledge and comprehension of the specialty.

Notification of Intent

  1. Eligible candidates must notify the ACVCP of their intent to take Phase I of the certification examination before February 1st of the year of the examination. Make a reservation for a seat at the next Phase I exam by returning to your application. The "Submission" menu includes a link to "Make (a) Phase I Reservation.' This link will open a form by which you can send a notifcation email to the appropriate ACVCP officers.
  2. Candidates for the Diplomate Certification Examination shall pay to the College an examination fee of $200 (for phase I) before sitting the Phase I exam.
  3. This fee is non-refundable whether or not the applicant takes the exam and must be received by the Treasurer post-marked no later than February 1st of a given exam year. Access information concerning submission of the Phase I examination fee by selecting "Fees" through the online Phase I application menu.
  4. A candidate who is deemed ineligible, or if eligible, who declines to take either Phase of the Examination after notification of intent has been submitted shall be required to pay an additional prescribed fee of $200 for Phase I when notification of intent is made again to take Phase I of the Examination
  5. A candidate who does not pass a Phase I Examination shall be required to complete a notification of intent and to pay an additional prescribed fee of $200 for subsequent reexamination of that failed Phase I exam.


The Phase I Examination is an objective examination consisting of 500 multiple choice questions. The passpoint for the Phase I examination is set at 60% (300 correct of 500 multiple choice questions). If the candidate successfully passes the Phase I Examination, he/she may then be eligible for the Phase II Examination if all other credentials have been previously satisfied. Candidates may take both the Phase I Examination and the Phase II Examination in the same year. If a candidate so desires, he/she must notify the Secretary/Treasurer. If a candidate is approved to take both the Phase I Examination and the Phase II Examination in the same year, the Examinations will be given on consecutive days, but one must pass the Phase I Examination before sitting for the Phase II Examination.

You must notify the Examination Committee Chairperson if you have a medical problem, impairment, or disability that requires any special assistance or accommodation for the examination. This notification is needed 30 days prior to the examination date.

Examination Philosophy

The Phase I Examination is designed to evaluate the candidate's advanced knowledge of the comparative pharmacology of principal drug groups employed in veterinary therapeutics. In order to apply the knowledge within the context of veterinary clinical medicine, a Diplomate is expected to understand the basic mechanisms and pathophysiological features of a wide variety of diseases occurring in the various classes of domesticated animals and to understand the role of drugs in modifying the disease process.

Examination Results and Appeals

Preliminary examination results will be reported to candidates on the night of the examination, only to those candidates who wish to take the Phase II Examination the following day. Final examination results will be sent to all candidates on the same day and within 60 days after completion of the examination. Candidates are not allowed to review their examinations and will not be notified of their total scores; they will be informed of whether their performance was a pass or a failure.

Candidates failing to pass the Diplomate Certification Examination may appeal this decision within 30 calendar days of the postmarked date of notification. The request for appeal must be made in writing to the Secretary-Treasurer and shall include a statement of the grounds for reconsideration and appropriate documentation.

Examination Format

  1. We'll be using the computer-based testing system called Examsoft.
  2. Candidates will be required to bring their own laptops to the testing location.
  3. Candidates will need install Examplify (testing application) on their laptops ahead of time. It is available for both the Windows and Macintosh platforms.
  4. A practice exam will be released several weeks before the actual exam. Candidates will complete this at home. During this practice period, questions should be directed to Robert Malinowski( or to the exam chair. This allows for troubleshooting of any technical issues, and also gives the candidates an opportunity to explore Examplify before the exam and see how the questions are structured.
  5. A second practice exam will be conducted on-site the evening before the exam. During that session, candidates will be shown some Examplify tips and tricks. We'll also go over the schedule and process for the following days.
  6. The candidates will need to download the encrypted exam files to their laptops ahead of time. They will only be able to open the exams once the proctor announces the passwords.
  7. During the exam, the candidates' laptops are locked down and they are unable to access the internet, files or any applications other than Examplify.
  8. At the end of the exam, the candidates' laptops are automatically unlocked, their internet access is re-enabled and their responses are uploaded to the Examsoft servers.
  9. Preliminary results will be available within minutes after the exam. I'll provide this information to the exam committee for review. Based on their feedback, grading adjustments will be made as needed and generate the final exam reports.
  10. Here are the system requirements for installing Examplify:
    1. Windows:
    2. Mac:
  11. Most fairly modern computers (from the last 4 years or so) run Examplify without any issues.
  12. Candidates must have administrator privileges to their laptop. If they are using a university/work laptop, that could cause issues.
  13. Approximately eighty percent of the questions are directed toward the principal question categories and 20 percent toward the remaining question categories.

    Specific Objectives

    A Diplomate of the ACVCP is expected to possess advanced knowledge of comparative pharmacology, especially as it relates to the following clinical pharmacology concepts:

    1. Physiochemical characteristics
    2. Mechanisms of drug action
    3. Drug effects in various animal species, and inter-species differences
    4. Pharmacokinetics and drug disposition
    5. Therapeutic indications
    6. Drug toxicology and recognition of adverse drug effects
    7. Pathophysiology of adverse drug reactions, and drug allergy
    8. Drug interactions
    9. Causes of therapeutic drug failure
    10. The influence of factors such as disease, habitus, age, and pregnancy on drug disposition and drug effects in a patient

    Principal question categories:

    1. Drugs affecting the autonomic and somatic nervous system
    2. Autacoids and drugs affecting inflammation
    3. Drugs affecting the blood, blood-forming organs and immune system
    4. Water, salts, ions, and acid-base balance
    5. Hormones and hormone antagonists
    6. Drugs affecting renal function
    7. Cardiovascular drugs
    8. Drugs affecting the gastrointestinal system (including liver and pancreas)
    9. Drugs affecting the central nervous system
    10. Antimicrobials and antiparasitic drugs
    11. Miscellaneous definitions
    12. Pharmacokinetics
    13. Drug delivery devices

    A Diplomate of the ACVCP is expected to have a general knowledge in other question categories, which are within the realm of special expertise of other clinical specialties.

    Other question categories:

    1. General and local anesthetics (anesthesiology)
    2. Ophthalmic drugs (ophthalmology)
    3. Oxytocic and tocolytic drugs (theriogenology)
    4. Antineoplastic drugs (oncology)
    5. Drugs acting on the skin (dermatology)
    6. Vitamins and minerals
    7. Toxic gases, plants, vapors, heavy metals, pesticides (toxicology)
    8. Disinfectants and Antiseptics (preventative medicine and surgery)

    Sources of Study Materials:

    The following list contains references the Examination Committee suggests for use in preparation for the examination. The source of questions is not necessarily limited to this reference list. Candidates also are encouraged to consider contemporary articles in reputable journals pertaining to veterinary clinical pharmacology and applied therapeutics. The most recent editions of the following are suggested reading:

    1. Riviere J, Papich M (Ed): Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 9th edition, 2013, Wiley-Blackwell.
    2. Boothe DM (ed) Small Animal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2nd ed 2012, Elsevier
    3. Hardman JG, Limbird LE, Molivroff PB, Ruddon RW (editors): Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics,. 12th ed, 2010, McGraw-Hill, Columbus, Ohio