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Geology, the study of the earth and rocks, dates all the way back to ancient Greece. As such, the profession today plays a critical role in helping people understand the history of the earth. Over time it has become more necessary for the geology field to have structure and an official organization. Since 1992 the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) has administered thousands of examinations in order to bestow professional licensure for geologists. The ASBOG is a highly respected alliance of state licensing institutions. The ABSOG primarily acts as an organization that allows members to participate together to help in promoting the professionalization of geology. Its purpose is to provide the organizational structure for geologists and those seeking to enter the profession.[1]


ASBOG Study Guide

The ASBOG exam is one component used to grant professional licensure for aspiring geologists. The organization argues that the test is an important part of protecting public health, safety, and welfare. This is due to the fact that geologists can play a role in the development of sound policies to aid in the protection of the environment. In fact, the ASBOG contends that since geologists are able to make such positive contributions to the public good, a thorough examination process is absolutely necessary.[2] It is important for all potential test-takers to be aware that there are other necessary requirements an individual must meet before being bestowed licensure. These conditions vary from state to state. Most jurisdictions set the prospect for licensure on the basis of education and experience. This includes obtaining a four year college degree in geology or a related study and several years of professional work experience in the field. Recommendations from peers are also sometimes mandatory for prospective test-takers.[3]


ASBOG Flashcards

In order to sit for the exam individuals must first apply with the ASBOG for permission to take the test. As the requirements vary from state to state it is imperative that individuals seeking to take the exam check with their particular state before submitting an application. Also be aware that fees and filing deadlines are different from each jurisdiction so it is important to make sure all potential candidates are aware of those costs and dates. Shortly after an application is received and processed individuals will receive notice from their State board whether or not their application was accepted or rejected. The exam is offered twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.[4] Many geological professionals recommend that individuals take the test shortly after receiving their degree in geology or a related field. It is very important that individuals know their college institutional code for the exam when they arrive at the Prometric Testing Center. This code can be attained from the ASBOG website. Individuals who need special accommodations for the test must provide their state board with a written statement from a doctor detailing their request. This must be done at least 90 days in advance of the test date.[5]


Sections of the ASBOG Test
ASBOG Test Subject Areas FG % PG %
General % Field Geology 20% 21%
Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry 11% 5%
Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, and Paleontology 12% 5%
Geomorphology, Surficial Processes, and Quaternary Geology 13% 8%
Structure, Tectonics, and Seismology 11% 9%
Hydrogeology 11% 19%
Engineering Geology 11% 17%
Economic Geology and Energy Resources 11% 16%
Total 100% 100%

Test Environment

Both the Fundamentals of Geology and Practice of Geology exams take place on booklets and answer sheets. Pencils are provided at the testing sites. The tests are provided during the Fall and Spring of each year. Calculators are allowed, but only portable, silent, non-printing, non-alpha programmable ones. Protractors, straight edge, and engineer's scales are allowed during the exam as well. Graph paper and scratch paper are provided.[6]

Test Content

The ASBOG offers two exams, both made out of eight domains: General and Field Geology; Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry; Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, and Paleontology; Geomorphology, Surficial Processes, and Quaternary Geology; Structure, Tectonics, and Seismology; Hydrogeology; Engineering Geology; and Economic Geology and Energy Resources. Fundamentals of Geology is made up of 140 questions, and the Practice of Geology has 110 questions. The time allotted to take both of the exams is four hours. Fundamentals of Geology will start at 8 in the morning, and end at 12 in the afternoon, and Practice of Geology begins at 1 in the afternoon, and end at 5 in the evening.[7]


The ASBOG exam is scored based on the number of correct answers; there is no penalty for incorrect responses. A scaled score of 70 is recommended by the ASBOG to be considered passing while 100 is the highest possible score. 70 is only a recommendation as local jurisdictions have the final authority to determine what an acceptable passing number is.[8] Once exams are graded the ASBOG releases the results to State Boards who then disperse the scores to candidates. Individuals should check with their local board for their score after about 60 days. Anyone needing who fails the exam and needs to retest may do so. Individuals should check with their local jurisdiction regarding retesting requirements and procedures.[5]


  1. ^ Western Washington 22 May 2014
  2. ^ Requirements 18 May 2014
  3. ^ States 18 May 2014
  4. ^ Dates 22 May 2014
  5. ^ a b Handbook 22 May 2014
  6. ^ Fundamentals of Geology Examination 14 July 2014
  7. ^ Professional Geologists Candidate Handbook 14 July 2014
  8. ^ Directory 22 May 2014

External Links