28| Board Certification Through ABPP/ABCN – A Conversation With Dr. Kira Armstrong

Although board certification is not currently required in the field of neuropsychology, the number of board-certified neuropsychologists is rapidly increasing, suggesting that this may become the standard in the near future.  This is relevant for both professionals and trainees because some employers are already beginning to require board certification. In this episode, we speak to Kira Armstrong, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, about the process of becoming board certified, preparation strategies, and how examinees are evaluated.

A pdf of the transcript for this episode is available here.

Show Notes (with time stamps)


  • Benefits of board certification (1:40)
  • The number of board-certified neuropsychologists in the U.S., Canada, and Australia (6:29)
  • Overview of the steps to becoming board certified (8:26)
    • Step 1: Credential review (8:34)
    • Step 2: Written exam (9:51)
    • Step 3: Practice sample submission and review (10:53)
    • Step 4: Oral exam (11:35)
  • Other considerations (13:14)
  • Board certification resources (13:55)

Interview with Dr. Kira Armstrong

  • An overview of Kira’s book titled Board Certification in Clinical Neuropsychology: A Guide to Becoming Board Certified Without Sacrificing Your Sanity (16:39)
  • Advantages of ABPP and ABCN compared to other boards (19:12)
  • Pediatric sub-specialization certification (20:53)
  • Is there pediatric material in the ABCN certification? (22:26)
  • Can we expect additional subspecialties in the future? (23:24)
  • Board certification in respect to the research-clinical continuum (25:24)
  • Length of the ABPP certification process from application to letter of approval (27:36)
  • When should people start planning? (29:01)
  • The prevalence of those residing outside of North America who are either board certified or are pursuing certification (30:21)
  • Advice for people who are worried that they may fail parts of the process (32:22)
  • General strategies for preparing for the written and oral exam (35:17)
  • When to request a mentor (39:36)
  • Step 1: credential review (40:58)
  • Step 2: written exam (42:24)
  • Effectively allocating time and energy on studying the resource materials (44:05)
  • Studying resource materials at a realistic level of detail (46:19)
  • Strategies for approaching practice exams (49:03)
  • Strategies for using the resources of BRAIN (50:22)
  • Criterion for the practice samples (52:57)
  • The rationale for selecting two different types of moderately complex cases for the practice samples (54:09)
  • Interrater reliability of reviewers (55:42)
  • Strategies for selecting practice sample cases (58:08)
  • Deidentification process (1:01:49)
  • Dealing with the anxiety associated with the oral exam (1:02:38)
  • Description of a mock fact-finding (1:05:54)
  • Advice for the ethical vignettes (1:10:40)
  • Advice for the practice sample defense (1:12:40)

Bonus questions

  • What Kira would do if she could improve the field of neuropsychology (1:15:24)
  • Advice Kira wished someone had told her or advice someone told her during training that made a difference (1:16:07)
  • What early career professionals can do to ensure that we’re providing cutting edge clinical services for decades (1:17:44)

About Kira

Kira Armstrong, PhD, ABPP-CN, is a pediatric neuropsychologist who was a co-creator and co-administrator of the BRAIN (“Be Ready for Board Certification in Neuropsychology”) resource.  She was lead author of the book Board Certification in Clinical Neuropsychology: A Guide to Becoming ABPP/ABCN Without Sacrificing Your Sanity (see link below).  Dr. Armstrong was a pioneer in developing ABPP’s first subspecialty, pediatric neuropsychology.  She has served as an ABCN oral examiner and a work sample reviewer.  Additionally, Dr. Armstrong served on the AACN board of directors from 2008-2013 and on the AACN Foundation board from 2009-2013.  Dr. Armstrong currently works in private practice focusing on children with acquired and developmental disorders.

Selected Resources

Book: Board Certification in Clinical Neuropsychology

ABCN’s resource page: https://theabcn.org/resources/

ABPP’s resource page: https://abpp.org/Applicant-Information/Specialty-Boards/Clinical-Neuropsychology.aspx

AACN resource page: https://theaacn.org/board-certification/

Be Ready for ABPP in Neuropsychology (BRAIN): https://brainaacn.org

ABCN (2018) Candidate Manual

ABPP/ABCN Oral Exam Tips and Advice