Qualification in Repository Science (QBRS) Frequently Asked Questions
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Why was the Qualification in Biorepository Science (QBRS) Examination created?

This new qualification will help further the advancement of scientific discoveries through the field of biobanking, biological and environmental.  Biobanks are vital for scientific progress in many arenas and disciplines (e.g., medical research, precision medicine, environmental research).  Qualified biorepository professionals are essential to the high-quality results required for the advancement of biomedicine and biospecimen-based science. Given the global growth of the field of biobanking, there is an increasing demand for related education and professional standards. This new qualification is designed to help meet the needs of all ISBER members and biorepository communities.

Who can take the exam?

The requirements include either:

  1. A valid ASCP technologist/scientist or specialist certification, combined with a baccalaureate degree with a major in biology, chemistry, biotechnology or a related field, or 30 semester hours of chemistry and biology coursework, plus one year of full-time experience in a biorepository within the past 5 years.
  2. The second route does not require an ASCP certification. A baccalaureate degree with a major in biology, chemistry, biotechnology or a related field, or 30 semester hours of chemistry and biology coursework is required as well as two years of full-time experience in a biorepository within the past 5 years.
  3. The third route is a Master’s degree with a major as required in Route 1 plus one year of experience in a biorepository within the past 5 years.

For the full list of requirements, please visit www.ascp.org/boc/qbrs.

How do you apply?

You may access the application site at www.isber.org/qualification or www.ascp.org/boc/qbrs

There you will find detailed requirements, including:

  • Qualification criteria
  • The scope of the exam
  • Suggested reading material
  • Work experience documentation form
  • Information about regionally accredited colleges and universities
  • Application form for the Qualification in Biorepository Science


What information is required and why?

As noted above, information about your academic background and work experience is required to review your application prior to allowing you to register for the examination. Please complete the application process and submit all necessary documents. In addition, the ASCP BOC website (www.ascp.org/boc/qbrs) will provide valuable information about what to expect on the examination and how to prepare for it.

When will the application and exam be available?

The process is now open through either www.isber.org/qualification or www.ascp.org/boc/qbrs

Once your application is approved, you will receive an admission notification by email. The exam will be available at the beginning of April, 2020. The 50 question, multiple choice, timed test is self-administered on your own computer on the date and time of your own choice within the 60-day examination period indicated on the examination notification. Ninety minutes are allocated to complete the examination.

What is the cost of the examination?

The cost to sit for the exam is USD $240.

Can you take the exam if you aren’t based in the United States?

Yes, you can take the exam if you are not based in the United States.  Your credentials will need to be validated, and submitted as part of your application. The list of Regionally Accredited Colleges and Universities, which is available from the ASCP website and on the Qualification Criteria page, includes a listing of agencies that can validate non-North American credentials. Otherwise, the same criteria apply for qualification to sit for the exam. 

What material will be covered in the exam?

 The examination questions encompass the major content areas in biorepository science, including:

  • specimen handling (collection, processing and storage) (25-30%)
  • sample/data inventory management and quality control (25-30%)
  • safety and infection control (25-30%)
  • biorepository operations (15-20%)

 Each of these general topics will comprise a portion of the exam as shown in the brackets and will equal a specific percentage of the 50 total questions on the examination. The questions may be theoretical or procedural. A full listing of potential topics is found on the page outlining the scope of the examination on the website at www.ascp.org/boc/qbrs or www.isber.org/qualification.

What happens if I’m not successful on the first try?

The examination may be attempted a total of five times under one eligibility route if initially unsuccessful.

Is re-certification required over time?

QBRS certificate holders will be required to revalidate their qualification every three years by documentation of required continuing education or other educational activities as defined by ASCP BOC. General information can be found at www.ascp.org/boc/cmp-info; specific requirements for maintaining the QBRS credential will be available at a later date.

How should I prepare for the examination?

Your previous work experience in a biobanking laboratory will be beneficial as you should have the majority of the skills and experience that will be covered as part of the exam questions. The topic outline, found at www.ascp.org/boc/qbrs or www.isber.org/qualification provides a comprehensive list of the areas within biobanking that are covered on the exam, so that attention to those areas in your review will be helpful. A suggested reading list is also available that should help direct your review.

How is the exam scored?

The qualification working group, comprised of subject matter experts sets the passing standard for the qualification exam. A rigorous procedure called standard setting is used to set the passing standard. The qualification working group undergoes training to define a valid passing standard. Using their subject matter expertise, the working group members define minimal competency and core knowledge essential to perform the job competently. The passing standard translates into the number of correct answers an examinee must achieve to pass the examination.

When will I get the results of the exam?

Within four business days of completing the exam, you will receive an email to log in to your ASCP account to view your score report. Your official score report will indicate “pass” or “fail” status and the scaled score on the examination.

What is the difference between the ISBER Essentials of Biobanking Course and the QBRS exam?

The Essentials of Biobanking Course is designed to help biobankers gain knowledge required for operating and managing biobanks, how to apply knowledge gained through applying ISBER Best Practices 4th ed. and the ISO 20387:2018 standard and to help the biobank prepare for certification or accreditation by ISO, CTRNet or CAP. The Qualification in Biorepository Science (QBRS) is designed to help individuals confirm that they have the qualifications, knowledge and skills to be competent as biorepository scientists. 

What is the difference between an ASCP qualification and a certification?

The ASCP BOC developed the concept of a “qualification” in the early 1990’s to address the need to recognize the competence of individuals in specific technical areas, such as cytometry, immunohistochemistry, etc. After meeting specific eligibility requirements, individuals complete a 50 question time-limited online test, at their own computer. Qualifications are for technical areas with a defined scope of study. There are no training programs accredited by an outside agency for these limited areas. Individuals apply based on specific academic requirements and experience.

Are there plans to translate the QBRS into other languages? If yes, in which languages and when?

There are no current plans to administer the QBRS exam in any language other than English.

Do non-U.S. applicants have to provide a social security number in their application process?

No, you do not need to provide a social security number with your application. 

How does ASCP BOC protect data? This could be an issue for E.U. applicants because of GDPR regulations.

The work ASCP BOC is authorized to do is processed without the need for affirmative consent from each applicant. The General Council of the CMSS (Council of Medical Specialty Societies) organizations have been in general agreement that much of the processing done as medical specialty organizations is authorized by GDPR.