To determine the influence of study methods on American Board of Surgery (ABS) examination performance.
Performance on ABS examinations by and faculty evaluations of 54 categorical surgical residents from 1976 to 1992 were correlated with the residents' use of commonly available educational methods (text-books, Selected Readings in General Surgery, grand rounds, preceptor guidance, clinical surgery review courses, surgical science review courses, Surgical Education and Self-Assessment Program [SESAP], and continuing medical education lectures) in early, late, and after residency.
An average-sized midwestern US university surgical residency.
Residents who consistently scored above the 33rd percentile on ABS examinations had used texts early, Selected Readings later, and SESAP after residency more frequently than those with ABS In-Training Examination scores in the lower one third. Selected Readings and clinical review courses were associated with significant increases in ABS percentile scores when used in late or after residency and, along with SESAP, were used when residents improved their low ABS In-Training Examination scores.
Independent study methods are the most effective pathway to successful ABS examination performance. Formal surgical review courses may help improve the ABS examination scores of residents at a higher risk of failure.(Arch Surg. 1995;130:83-87)