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Qualifying Science Examination

Step 3 of the PAVE Program assesses basic veterinary science proficiency. The Qualifying Science Examination (QSE) was designed and developed exclusively for the PAVE Program and is required for all PAVE candidates. It covers basic science or pre-clinical subjects taught in the first three years of the curriculum of accredited veterinary schools. The QSE is offered three times per year, in January, May and September. The AAVSB utilizes PSI for examination development and administration services regarding the QSE.

2016-2017 Qualifying Science Examination Dates

Examination Date Application Window Application Deadline
Jan 18, 2017 Sept 1-30, 2016 CLOSED
May 10, 2017 Jan 3-31, 2017 CLOSED
Sept 13, 2017 May 1-31, 2017 May 31, 2017


The QSE Blueprint

The QSE consists of 200 multiple-choice operational questions and 25 multiple-choice pilot questions derived from the test specifications. The QSE is delivered in a 220 minute, one single block session.

Qualifying Science Examination (QSE) Blueprint

Domain Content Area Domain %
Anatomy Gross Anatomy, Microscopic Anatomy, Physical Examination 10%
Physiology Organ Physiology, Genetics, Theriogenology, Physiological Chemistry, Endocrine Physiology 15%
Pharmacology Pharmacokenetics,  Pharmacodynamics, Pharmacologic therapeutics, Toxicology 13%
Diagnostics Microbiology, Pathology, Diagnostic Imaging, Parasitology 22%
Surgery Surgery Principles,  Anesthesia Principles, Analgesia, Emergency Medicine/Intensive Care 12%
Medicine, Ethics and Communications  Diagnosis and Treatment of Disease, Dentistry, Etiology, Client Communication and Ethics 15%
Preventative Medicine and Public Health Animal Welfare, Behavior, Epidemiology, Regulatory Medicine and Programs, Nutrition 13%


The QSE blueprint does not classify items by animal species or veterinary practice role. Many items on the QSE are not species specific, or are applicable to more than one species. The examination includes items dealing with all animal species that might be encountered by veterinarians in private clinical practice in North America.

Candidate Resources

QSE Candidate Handbook 5-2014.pdf

QSE Reference Textbook List 1-2017.pdf

QSE Abbreviations List 3-2017.pdf

QSE Eligibility Requirements

All PAVE candidates must complete Steps 1 (Application and Credentials Verification) and 2 (English Proficiency) in order to be eligible for the Qualifying Science Examination. If a candidate fails to meet the eligibility requirements for the QSE, they will not be permitted to sit for the examination. Please see the PAVE Standards and Policies for additional information.

QSE Test Sites

Candidates are asked to indicate their preferred testing location on their online application. The AAVSB and the exam vendor will establish test sites that are within a reasonable distance of the candidate.

QSE Eligibility Emails

Upon completion of the application and approval of eligibility, an eligibility letter will be sent by email from PSI. If you don't receive your emailed Eligibility Letter, contact PSI Customer Service at 1-800-733-926.

QSE Results

Approximately 3-4 weeks after taking the exam, the candidates will be sent an email notification from the AAVSB that official scores are available. The official score report will be mailed directly to the candidate. The score report will show your score and a pass/fail designation.

QSE Retake

If a retake is necessary, you will be allowed 5 business days from when your results are emailed to apply for the next QSE, regardless of the posted application deadline. The fee to retake is $1500.

Please remember to notify the AAVSB at of any address or email changes, so that you receive communication in a timely manner.

QSE Preparation - Sample Questions

The AAVSB has included 10 sample questions to provide candidates with an example of the type of questions that appear on the Qualifying Science Examination. These sample questions represent the seven domain areas of the examination and an answer key follows the list of questions.

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