Sequential Participation in a Multi-Institutional Mock Oral Examination Is Associated With Improved American Board of Surgery Certifying Examination First-Time Pass Rate

Abbey L. Fingeret, Tracey Arnell, John McNelis, Mindy B. Statter, Lisa Dresner, Warren Widmann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

9 Scopus citations


Objective We sought to determine whether sequential participation in a multi-institutional mock oral examination affected the likelihood of passing the American Board of Surgery Certifying Examination (ABSCE) in first attempt. Design Residents from 3 academic medical centers were able to participate in a regional mock oral examination in the fall and spring of their fourth and fifth postgraduate year from 2011 to 2014. Candidate׳s highest composite score of all mock orals attempts was classified as risk for failure, intermediate, or likely to pass. Factors including United States Medical Licensing Examination steps 1, 2, and 3, number of cases logged, American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination performance, American Board of Surgery Qualifying Examination (ABSQE) performance, number of attempts, and performance in the mock orals were assessed to determine factors predictive of passing the ABSCE. Results A total of 128 mock oral examinations were administered to 88 (71%) of 124 eligible residents. The overall first-time pass rate for the ABSCE was 82%. There was no difference in pass rates between participants and nonparticipants. Of them, 16 (18%) residents were classified as at risk, 47 (53%) as intermediate, and 25 (29%) as likely to pass. ABSCE pass rate for each group was as follows: 36% for at risk, 84% for intermediate, and 96% for likely pass. The following 4 factors were associated with first-time passing of ABSCE on bivariate analysis: mock orals participation in postgraduate year 4 (p = 0.05), sequential participation in mock orals (p = 0.03), ABSQE performance (p = 0.01), and best performance on mock orals (p = 0.001). In multivariable logistic regression, the following 3 factors remained associated with ABSCE passing: ABSQE performance, odds ratio (OR) = 2.9 (95% CI: 1.3-6.1); mock orals best performance, OR = 1.7 (1.2-2.4); and participation in multiple mock oral examinations, OR = 1.4 (1.1-2.7). Conclusions Performance on a multi-institutional mock oral examination can identify residents at risk for failure of the ABSCE. Sequential participation in mock oral examinations is associated with improved ABSCE first-time pass rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e95-e103
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016



  • American Board of Surgery Certifying Examination
  • Graduate Medical Education
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Medical Knowledge
  • mock orals
  • oral examination
  • Professionalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education

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