Commonly asked questions

Does it matter what order I complete the exam and the Long Form Application?

No. You may complete them in either order. You do not have to submit the Long Form prior to taking the exam and vice versa. They both must be submitted/completed by December 31 or the year following submission of the Short Form Application.

How much time does a typical examinee spend preparing for the exam?

Certification by definition is meant to test a level of knowledge and expertise. The ABC exams are designed to draw on knowledge gained through experience and therefore a great deal of preparation should not be necessary for an attorney who meets the experience and substantial involvement requirements for certification.

What should I study?

Please refer to the Study Guides and Sample Exams found under Exam Information --

None of the exam locations are convenient for me. Do I have any other options?

Yes, you may take the exam in your office for an additional fee of $200. We arrange for an exam administrator to arrive at your office with the exam. If you do not wish to take the exam in your office, you may select another professional, business location. The exam cannot be administered in personal residences.

Are walk-ins permitted for the exams?

No. If we don't know that you plan to attend, we won't have an exam prepared for you to take.

What is the pass rate on the exams?

The pass rate tends to range between 75-80%.

How many questions do I need to answer correctly on the multiple-choice section?

To receive a passing score, an examinee must correctly answer 30 out of the 50 questions correctly.

How are the essay exams graded?

They are graded by members of the ABC Faculty Committee. Since examinees label their exam books with their ABC identification number rather than their name, the grading process is completely anonymous. Since the exams are graded by Faculty Committee members on a quarterly basis, it typically takes between 3-4 months to receive grades.

How are exam scores issued?

All scores are issued in writing. Examinees receive pass or fail scores.

If a section of the exam is failed by an examinee, does the entire exam have to be retaken?

No. The exams consist of three sections -- the multiple-choice, ethics and subspecialty essay sections. If an individual section is failed, only that section will need to be retaken.

What do I need to bring with me on exam day?

A copy of the Bankruptcy Code, pencils, answer sheets are provided on site. You may bring your own copy of the Uniform Commercial Code and your own states ethical rules. Please note all of these references will need to be "unannotated". You may also bring a calculator although the math computations on the exam are basic (points are not deducted for incorrect math calculations).

How long does it take to process the Long Form Application?

They typically take 3-5 months to process. All applications are reviewed by the ABC Standards Committee, which meets quarterly. In addition, staff must process reference forms prior to Committee approval.

What is ABC's relationship with the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) and the Commercial Law League of America (CLLA)?

Both organizations are sponsors of ABC, and ABC is considered the certifying organization for both entities. While ABC values its strong relationship with both organizations, ABC is incorporated as a separate non-profit organization.

Does my state recognize certification?

Please refer to the section of the ABC website regarding State Approaches to Certification.

What is the total cost to become certified?

There is an application fee of $495 which must be paid prior to sitting for the exam. The exam fee is $175. For the entire ABC Fee Schedule, click here.

I want to get certified in 2 specialties. What is the fee for the 2nd application and exam?

The application fee for the 2nd specialty is $300. There is no exam fee for the 2nd specialty (unless the exam is taken in-office). The same fees would apply to a 3rd specialty ($300).

Can I take 2 exams in one day?

No. While all exams are offered on any given test date, an examinee can only take one exam in one day. All exams are allotted up to 6 hours, therefore, taking more than one exam would make for a very long day!

I want to get certified in both business and consumer bankruptcy. Am I required to complete the General Bankruptcy and Ethics Essay sections twice?

No. For example, if you take the entire business bankruptcy exam and pass it and then want to take the consumer exam, you would only need to complete the Consumer Sub-specialty Section of the exam (approximately 3 hours for 2 essay questions).

I am a consumer bankruptcy attorney with a high volume practice, and I rarely, if ever, handle DISPUTED bankruptcy cases. How do I meet the substantial involvement requirement of Rule 3.1.3 (a) which requires substantial participation in at least thirty adversary proceedings or contested cases?

A high percentage of adversary matters settle and such situations certainly count towards this requirement. Looking at the range of matters covered by Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 7001 and 9014 many are standard issues that must be addressed by Motion, if not a Complaint, in many Chapter 13 proceedings. To name a few: reimbursement of fees, lien avoidance, extent of lien determination, exemptions, sale of property under 363, turnover of property, discharges, claim determination, Chapter 13 Plan confirmation, tax issues, payment terms, insurance issues, need to extend Chapter 13 Plan, dismissal of Plan, Plan modification, Plan priorities, and many others. Under any of these topics five matters may be listed. An attorney with a volume of cases may have to present fees to the Court under the review of the Chapter 13 Trustee, some lien perfection issues tend to crop up, as well as Plan modification if clients have a change in economic circumstances during the Plan period. It is not unusual to determine what aspects of a mortgage gets paid within and without a Plan which requires resolution of concerns raised formally or informally by the Chapter 13 Trustee.

Once I am certified, what will be required?

Each year, certified attorneys must return an Annual Statement and fee of $350 per specialty area ($50 discount provided for 2nd and 3rd specialties). By signing the Annual Statement, an attorney is verifying that they continue to meet the requirements for certification.  If initially certified prior to September 1st, the new member will be required to complete the Annual Statement and pay the fee for the upcoming year, prior to December 31st.  If initially certified after September 1st, the new member will be required to complete the Annual Statement only. 

Every 5 years, a Recertification Application must be completed that requires submission of CLE hours and names of references. (Initial certification is valid for 4 years, but subsequent recertifications are valid for 5 years). The Recertification fee is $350 per specialty. Note that CLE hours are not submitted annually. There is no examination administered for Recertification.