Can I extend my J-1 status to sit for a board exam?
Yes, according to federal regulations, a foreign physician may extend his or her J-1 status, for good cause shown, to take an examination required for certification by a specialty board. See 22 C.F.R. (Code of Federal Regulations) 62.27(e)(3). ECFMG will even permit J-1 extensions where the foreign physician has already received his or her J-1 waiver. ECFMG will typically extend the J-1 status only up to six months.
Please note that such extensions carry no employment or training authorization. Additionally, if your extension to sit for a board exam would cause you to exceed the seven year limit for your J-1 status, there will be additional restrictions and complications. Please see my post regarding extending J-1 status beyond seven years for more information.