New PAEA Surgery End of Rotation™ Exam Planned for Fall 2024

PAEA is pleased to share updated information about the new Surgery End of Rotation™ exam that will be published this fall. View the original announcement here.

Throughout this summer, PAEA will provide education and resources to support programs in the transition. The new blueprint and topic list are available here. We encourage you and your faculty to review the modifications as you prepare for the new exam. 

The existing General Surgery End of Rotation exam will continue to be available through December 2025. This will allow programs time to map the new blueprint and topic list to program-specific learning outcomes and objectives as well as time to plan exam administration to best align with student cohorts and supervised clinical experience schedule. 

We are excited to release this new assessment and will begin sharing information to help programs transition to the new exam soon. In the meantime, if you have questions, please contact us at

Developing the Surgery End of Rotation Exam

In 2021, PAEA Assessment formed the PAEA General Surgery End of Rotation Exam Blueprint Workgroup. This group was charged with three key tasks:

  1. Reviewing PA program needs under the new ARC-PA B3.07 standard of the ARC-PA Accreditation Standards for Physician Assistant Education, 5th Edition
  2. Evaluating the appropriateness of the current PAEA General Surgery End of Rotation exam blueprint
  3. Recommending any proposed changes to the existing blueprint and topic list.

The workgroup conducted a literature review — specifically looking at the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) blueprint, Surgical Council on Resident Education (SCORE) competencies, and common surgery textbooks— to identify overlaps with and gaps in the current PAEA General Surgery End of Rotation exam blueprint and topic list.

The workgroup also conducted a qualitative survey of programs through interviews with program directors to understand how they were managing the transition to the new ARC-PA 5th edition B3.07 standard. The final recommendations from the workgroup resulted in the plan to publish a new PAEA Surgery End of Rotation exam with an updated blueprint and topic list.  

What’s New?

As a reminder, the key modifications include:  

  • A new professional practice task area, which replaces the health maintenance task area. For example, an exam item that falls within the professional practice task area might relate to  informed consent before a surgical procedure. 
  • The addition of three new exam content areas:  breast surgery, pain medicine/anesthesia, and trauma/acute care.  
  • The designation of preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative as cross-cutting targets. These new targets help ensure the exam has questions across the perioperative settings. Each exam item will be coded to these targets and reported for both students and programs. 
  • The adjustment to exam item distributions by content and task areas on the blueprint, with the most notable being the reduction in the overall number of gastrointestinal/nutritional questions on the exam. 

In January 2024, PAEA started pretesting exam items from the new content areas and task area in the General Surgery End of Rotation exam. Pretesting is an important step in PAEA’s rigorous exam development process and allows us to gather item performance statistics to evaluate an item’s inclusion on future exams. As a reminder, pretest items are not scored items and do not impact a student’s exam performance, or “score.” 

In developing the new exam, PAEA Assessment remains committed to its guiding principle, to educate and support programs in graduating knowledgeable and competent PAs who will improve health for all. If you have any questions, please contact us at