The Physicians’ Vascular Interpretation (PVI) examination is now on demand!
As of January 1, 2018: These eligibility requirements can be used to apply
Thank you for your interest in the Physicians’ Vascular Interpretation (PVI) examination.
The PVI examination tests basic vascular knowledge and skills essential to physicians practicing vascular surgery and vascular medicine. The RPVI examination assesses Applicants’ understanding of vascular anatomy and hemodynamics as well as ultrasound result interpretation.
The Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation® (RPVI®) certification is awarded by APCA, the Alliance for Certification & Advancement, a new Council created to meet the specific needs of physicians. To earn your RPVI certification you must pass the PVI examination.
Look through the tabs below for more information on the RPVI examination, application and administration information, and the review materials available to you. If you’d like to sign-up now, please visit MY APCA.
PVI Examination Overview
The PVI examination assesses knowledge, skills and abilities in the areas of anatomy and hemodynamics (blood flow) of cerebrovascular, venous, peripheral and abdominal blood vessels.
Scores for the PVI examination will be at the test center once you complete the examination. The Pass or Fail results will then be posted to your secure MY APCA account within the next week.
Periodically, APCA conducts a PVI Job Task Analysis (JTA) and updates the PVI examination to reflect the frequency and importance of PVI tasks being performed by physicians.
Click to view the latest results of the PVI JTA conducted in 2015.
The PVI examination is four hours and contains 185 multiple-choice and PACSim questions. In order to earn the RPVI certification, the PVI examination must be taken and passed.
PACSim Items (Questions): The patent-pending PACSim items are designed to simulate an interpretation workstation experience relevant to actual present-day medical practice.
APCA functions under policies intended to demonstrate impartiality, high ethical standards and validity of its certification assessments.
APCA does not restrict Applicants, Candidates or becoming a Certificant based on limiting conditions, such as membership of an association or professional society of any organization. APCA will not unfairly impede or inhibit access to its certification to Applicants, Candidates or Certificants who meet our stated policies regarding qualification requirements, renewal requirements and/or passing APCA’s psychometrically sound certification assessments.
You will be considered a Re-applicant for the PVI examination if you have previously been approved to sit for it.
To sit for the PVI examination as a Re-applicant, submit the application and payment. Your application will automatically be approved and you will be able to schedule within a day.
You must wait 60 days to retake the PVI examination if you do not pass it.
The letter must:
- Include address and telephone number
- Include the current date (mm/dd/yyyy)
- Include full dates of employment or program (mm/dd/yyyy)
- Contain original signatures (stamped and/or computer
- generated signatures are not acceptable); letters cannot be
signed by a relative of the applicant
- Provide a physician’s medical license number (hand signed; stamped or computer generated signatures will not be accepted)
Provided are some sample letters that may correspond with your prerequisite requirements.
Vascular interpretation experience option #1 letters
- Accredited residency/fellowship program letter
- Accredited residency/fellowship program with simulation cases letter
Vascular interpretation experience option #2 letters
Vascular interpretation experience option #3 letters
You must submit the necessary supporting documentation to be received within 21 days of submitting your online application.
Note: We do not retain application documentation received prior to receipt and payment of the online application. Any documentation received prior to the completed online application will be discarded.
Degrees earned internationally must be evaluated prior to selecting a prerequisite. We require a course by course evaluation. Click here for complete list of Evaluation Agencies for International Degrees.
If the applicant has taken and passed all three parts of and earned the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) certification, a copy of the ECFMG® certificate may be submitted with a copy of current, valid MD or DO license from the U.S. or Canada in lieu of the evaluation.
To apply, please follow these steps:
- Log in to MY APCA and choose the “Apply Online” option.
- Complete the online application form and submit payment. If you are a first-time Applicant, you are required to choose a prerequisite under which to apply.
- Gather the required supporting documentation.
- Submit your supporting documentation for receipt within 21 days of applying online. Review of your application can take up to five business days once received in the office.
For more details, please visit the PVI How to Apply Guide.
Once we have reviewed your information, we will email you with either an Examination Confirmation Letter (ECL) or a request for additional documentation. When you receive the ECL, you may contact Pearson VUE to schedule an examination appointment during your eligibility period. The eligibility period will be listed on your ECL or check above to view the current PVI examination administration dates.
If you are found ineligible to take the examination, your application will be partially refunded (less the $100 USD processing fee per examination) and your documentation will be mailed back to you.
The PVI examination fee is $600 USD, which includes a $100 USD non-refundable processing fee.
If you take an APCA examination at an international test center (outside the U.S., Canada and Mexico), you will be charged an additional non-refundable $100 USD fee when you schedule your examination. This fee is subject to change without notice.
Reimbursement Information for U.S. Armed Forces Veterans:
Learn more about the GI Reimbursement Program for United States Armed Forces Veterans.
The application checklist is a helpful, online tool that lets you track the status of your submitted application. To view it, log into MY APCA and visit the “Application Checklist” from the “Application Center” drop down menu.
Once we have reviewed your documentation, you can find out what documentation we accepted and what additional documentation we may still need by selecting “View Checklist.” If “View Checklist” is not available, it simply means we have not yet reviewed your documentation.
If you are found eligible to take an examination, we will email you an Examination Confirmation Letter (ECL) within one to two days of application approval and you will be able to schedule your appointment at that time. The ECL will also be posted to your MY APCA account and will include your eligibility period to schedule and take your examination.
You will be considered a re-applicant for the Physicians’ Vascular Interpretation (PVI) examination if you have previously been approved to sit for the PVI examination.
To sit for the PVI examination as a re-applicant, submit the application and payment; your application will automatically be approved.
If you need special accommodations, please select “Yes” for “Special Accommodations” in the application and submit the following along with your completed application:
- An original copy of a letter dated within the past five years and typed on official letterhead from a qualified physician or health care provider who specializes in the disability. This letter must document the disability and its severity, describe the applicant’s limitation due to the disability and state exactly what accommodations are recommended. The letter must contain an original signature and the physician’s or provider’s credentials.
- An original copy of a comprehensive medical evaluation/report of the diagnosed disability from the physician or health care provider, dated within the past five years.
- A completed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Special Accommodations Questionnaire, which must be submitted each time you apply for an examination.
For more information, visit Americans with Disabilities Act.
Once your PVI application has been approved, an Examination Confirmation Letter (ECL) will be emailed to you so you may schedule an examination with Pearson VUE – APCA’s official testing vendor.
If you have not done so already, visit Pearson VUE to:
• Create a Pearson VUE account
• Search for seat availability
• Locate a test center
• Schedule an examination
• Contact Pearson VUE Customer Service
If you are taking the examination at an international test center (outside the U.S., Canada and Mexico), a $100 USD non-refundable fee and Value Added Tax (VAT) will be charged by Pearson VUE. All international scheduling fees and associated VAT will be charged at the time the examination is scheduled. The fees and associated VAT are subject to change without notice, and they are non-refundable.
To reschedule the date and time of your examination during your eligibility period, you must contact Pearson VUE (1-877-258-9220) at least 96 hours prior to the scheduled examination date and time.
To cancel an examination appointment, you must contact Pearson VUE (1-877-258-9220) and cancel the scheduled appointment no later than 96 hours prior to the scheduled examination appointment time. You will receive a cancellation email from Pearson VUE.
To request a partial refund, you must wait 24 hours after canceling the appointment with Pearson VUE and then submit a cancellation/partial refund request no later than 96 hours prior to the last date of the eligibility period.
To submit this request:
- Log in to your MY APCA account.
- Visit “My Examination/Application Status” under “Application Center.”
- Select the examination you wish to request a partial refund for.
- Complete and submit the form.
We will refund your examination fee, less the $100 USD processing fee per examination, unless we receive your request too late, you never schedule your examination or you do not keep your scheduled examination appointment. Then, the entire examination and processing fees are forfeited.
When you arrive at a test center, be prepared to:
- Check in with a Test Center Administrator
- Present one valid photo identification (ID); see Test Center Identification Requirements
- Provide a digital signature
- Have your palm vein scanned
- Take a test-day photograph
Note: The only thing that you can bring into the testing room is you. The test centers have lockers you can use to store personal belongings. Study materials as well as food and drink are prohibited in the test center. No visitors, guests, pets or children are allowed.
Important: Review APCA’s Examination Admission Compliance policies to ensure you are not refused admission at the test center and do not conduct unauthorized examination behavior.
Test centers will provide white boards for notes during the examination upon request.
If you need special accommodations, please select “Yes” for “Special Accommodations” in the application when you apply.
Taking a practice test or two is a great way to prepare for your actual examination. We offer a Physicians’ Vascular Interpretation (PVI) Practice Test that simulates the computer interface used in the actual test center environment. The PVI practice test review is comprised of 30 sample questions and is 30 minutes long.
After you complete a practice test, you will be emailed a report that shows the number of questions you answered correctly. While the report is an indication of your knowledge, the practice tests results should not be used to predict how well you will perform on the actual test at the test center.
See FAQs for additional information.
Each practice test costs $35 USD.
You can now register for a PVI practice test by signing into your MY APCA account and clicking the Sign Up/View Practice Test option in the Application Center tab. You can also view the computer system requirements in your MY APCA portal. For any general questions or technical problems regarding the practice tests, please call APCA at (800) 943-1709 or email practicetests@APCA.org.
Before your session begins, you should review the test tutorial. Please note you will not get a chance to review the test tutorial during the actual practice test, so please prepare accordingly. Once your session begins, you have 30 minutes to complete the practice test.
Register for a PVI practice test, by signing in to your MY APCA account.
The PVI examination contains 185 questions that cover the following content areas. All percentages are an approximate distribution of the questions across the content areas.
PVI Content Outline (Please click on “PVI Content Outline” for the detailed Content Outline in PDF-Printable format).
- Extracranial Carotid
- Intracranial Carotid
Peripheral Arterial – Duplex Imaging [15%]
- Bypass Graft
- Dialysis Access
- Interpretation of Duplex Imaging
- Postoperative Endovascular Intervention
Peripheral Arterial – Physiologic [20%]
- Ankle Brachial Index/Pulse Volume Recording
- Digital Evaluation
Peripheral Venous [20%]
- Vein Mapping
- Venous Thrombosis/Obstruction
- Venous Insufficiency Testing
Laboratory Technology and Operations [15%]
- Patient Care
- Physics and Instrumentation
- Quality Assurance
Please note: All percentages are approximate.
Your score report will display and include performance feedback for these content areas.
After all of your diligent preparation and hours spent studying, here are a few valuable tips to help make your examination day a success:
- Double check that you know where the test center is before examination day and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Remember, you MUST arrive and register at least 30 minutes before the examination begins.
- Get a good night’s sleep before you take your examination. Being well rested and relaxed when you take your examination will help you concentrate.
- Bring one form of current and valid identification that complies with the test center identification requirements.
- Travel light. The only thing you can bring into the testing room is you. You can store your personal belongings — your car keys, watch, smartphone, purse, backpack, etc. — in lockers at the test center. The following items are not allowed in test centers: study materials, food, drink, visitors/guests, pets and children.
- Request a white board if you plan to jot down notes during the examination. Test centers are using white boards (rather than paper) in an effort to “go green.”
Even though we offer practice examinations and sample questions, we do not offer study materials for our examinations – but our sister organizations do. You can find materials at:
The PVI examination features questions, which assess and measure your interpretation sonography skills. They include:
- Hotspot questions: You will receive questions about individual images; you will use the cursor to mark the correct answer directly on the image.
- Picture Archive and Communication Simulation (PACS) Questions: The new, patent-pending PACSim items are designed to simulate an interpretation workstation experience relevant to actual present-day medical practice. Learn more.
Watch the video presented by APCA’s companion organization for sonographers, ARDMS: How to Answer a Hotspot Question.
The PVI examination evaluates the knowledge and skills you must demonstrate as a PVI Sonography Professional. The primary test result is a PASS or FAIL decision. In addition, you will receive a scaled score, ranging from 300 to 700. A scaled score of 555 is required to pass all APCA examinations.
The scaled score is not a percentage of correct answers, nor is it built on a “curve” where a certain percentage of scores would pass and a certain percentage would fail. To learn more, visit Notification of Results and Scoring.
You can receive a score report at the test center once you complete the examination. The Pass or Fail results will then be posted to your secure MY APCA account within the next week.
Candidates receiving a confirmed passing score on all required examinations and meeting all other requirements will be awarded a certification, effective the date the final examination was taken. For information on the APCA scoring methods, visit Notification of Results and Scoring.
Candidates who do not pass are invited to re-apply.
You can request a score verification for a $35 USD fee, payable by check, money order or credit card. Score verification ensures that the computer counted the correct and incorrect answers appropriately, but it does not review the questions and answers.
You must submit the completed Exam Score Verification Form within 30 days of having taken the examination in question. The Exam Score Verification Form will be returned if incomplete, unsigned or unpaid.
When deciding whether to have your score verified, please consider that APCA examinations are scored electronically with a high degree of accuracy, and it is unlikely that verification will alter your original score.
APCA certification examinations are developed to assess the knowledge and skills necessary to practice the specialty safely and knowledgeably.
Below are the pass rates for the PVI examination for the past three years.
First-time takers: 78%
First-time takers: 81%
First-time takers: 85%
First-time takers: 84%
First-time takers: 90%
First-time takers: 95%