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Multilevel Certification Program

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The ABFA recognizes that individuals practice forensic anthropology with varying education, training, and experience. Accordingly, the new Multilevel Certification Program provides a feasible and equitable system to certify practitioners who possess the requisite qualifications and competencies at two distinct levels: Analyst and Diplomate. The ABFA has defined competencies for each certification with the intent that practitioners must be certified as an Analyst prior to pursuing Diplomate certification. While the ABFA is not a governmental licensing body, it encourages individuals to focus their scope of practice on the skills and abilities for which they are certified. Certification will be granted based on a review of the candidate’s education, training, experience, moral character, and passing of a formal examination designed to test specific knowledge, skills, and abilities. 

Implementation Timeline

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2024

  • Jan 1 – July 1: Accepting current application for the 2025 Diplomate Exam
    Note: Applicants approved to sit for the 2025 exam who defer or fail any portion of the 2025 D-ABFA exam will be required to submit a new application for the 2026 Analyst Exam

  • Summer/Fall: Administer 2024 D-ABFA Practical and Written Examinations

  • July/November: How to Apply Sessions—Analyst/Diplomate—New exam format information

 

​2025

  • Jan 1 – July 1: Accepting applications for the 2026 Analyst Exam (A-ABFA)
    Note: No Diplomate applications accepted during this time due to new format

  • Summer/Fall: Administer 2025 Diplomate Exam
    Note: Last D-ABFA exam in current format; deferrals and examinees failing          one/both parts will need to submit a new application in 2026 for the 2027 Analyst Exam

  • July/November: How to Apply Sessions—Analyst/Diplomate—New exam format information

 

​2026

  • Jan 1 – July 1: Accepting applications for the 2027 Analyst Exam (A-ABFA)

       Note: No Diplomate applications accepted during this time due to new format

  • Summer: Administer 2026 Analyst Exam

  • July 1 – December 1: Accepting applications for the 2027 Diplomate (D-ABFA) Exam (new format)

  • May/November: How to Apply Sessions—Analyst/Diplomate—New exam format information

 

2027

  • Jan 1 – July 1: Accepting applications for the 2028 Analyst Exam (A-ABFA)​​

​       Note: No Diplomate applications accepted during this time due to new format

  • Summer: Administer 2027 A-ABFA Exam

  • Fall: Administer 2027 D-ABFA Exam (new format)

  • July 1 – December 1: Accepting applications for the 2028 Diplomate (D-ABFA) Exam (new format)

  • May/November: How to Apply Sessions—Analyst/Diplomate—New exam format information

Examination Format

The ABFA multilevel certification program consists of two sequential levels: Analyst and Diplomate. The Analyst certification examination evaluates laboratory skills and fundamental knowledge. One in-person A-ABFA examination will be administered annually using skeletal remains and laboratory instrumentation. Diplomate certification builds on Analyst competencies and evaluates advanced knowledge, synthesis, and interpretation. One remote D-ABFA exam will be administered annually using examination software. The descriptions below provide a summary of each exam.

Multilevel Certification Competencies include knowledge, skills, and abilities that vary depending on certification exam. 

Analyst (A-ABFA) Examination

  • Redesigned examination using physical specimens, radiographs, and laboratory instruments

  • Competency-based assessment with varying question formats (e.g., multiple-choice & short answer questions)

  • Exam content focuses on technical capabilities, for example:

    • Knowledge and proper application of analytical methods (e.g., for scoring the pubic symphysis)

    • Osteometrics

    • Describing classic characteristics of major classes of skeletal trauma
       

Diplomate (D-ABFA) Examination

  • Redesigned exam will assess advanced knowledge of methods, theory, and application

  • Competency-based assessment with varying question formats (e.g., multiple choice & short answer questions)

  • Questions based on mock case scenarios with contextual information (e.g., background information, images, bench notes, and/or analytical output) will assess the ability to synthesize information and interpret findings.

  • Exam content focuses on synthesis and interpretation, for example: 

  • Develop a biological profile by interpreting and synthesizing the output of various methods and analyses

  • Interpret trauma, pathology, or postmortem interval from descriptions and/or high-quality images

Multilevel Certification Timeline FAQs

I submitted an application in July 2023, what does this change mean for me?

  • If you are found eligible to sit for the exam:

    • You will sit for the Aug/Sept 2024 for the Diplomate Exam (traditional format)

    • You may defer once (must let VP know by June 1st) and you will sit for the Aug/Sept 2025 Diplomate Exam

      • Beyond one deferment, you will be required to re-apply, putting in an Analyst Application in 2025 or later (with new application fee), and you would take the Applicant Exam in 2026 or later (likely August timeframe)

    • If you fail either portion of the 2024 exam, you may retake the failed section in 2025 (with retake exam fee)

      • If you do not retake in 2025, you will need to submit a new Analyst Application and sit for the Analyst Exam going forward

      • If you fail a second time, you will need to submit an Analyst Application and sit for the Analyst Exam going forward

  • If your application is denied, you may reapply the next year (July 2024) using the existing Diplomate Application requirements (see below for 2024 applications)

I am planning on submitting an application before the July 1, 2024, deadline. What does this change mean for me?

  • If you are found eligible to sit for the exam:

    • You will sit for the Aug/Sept 2025 Diplomate Exam (traditional format)

    • Deferring is NOT an option. If you cannot sit for the 2025 Diplomate Exam for any reason, you will have to submit a new Analyst Application (in 2025 or later) and follow the new format

    • If you fail either portion of the 2025 Diplomate Exam (written or practical) you will have to submit a new Analyst Application in 2026 or later.

I am planning on submitting an application in 2025 or later, what does this mean for me?

  • You will be submitting under the new Application and Exam process, starting with an Analyst Application. As additional information about the application process is finalized and approved by the Board of Directors, it will be posted on the ABFA website.

New application requirements, forms, and instructions are forthcoming.

Multilevel Certification Program Implementation Timeline Document:

Details regarding the application process and fee schedule are forthcoming.

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