Absite Smackdown! · Episode 25: Do Some Questions!

By:  David Kashmer, MD MBA FACS


Hi, and welcome to the Absite Smackdown! podcast.

Today we're going to discuss different study habits and how they affect ABSITE score.

As a surgery resident myself years ago, I found one of the toughest things to do is to review consistently for the ABSITE. And not only did it seem to be challenging to get all the reading in, but it was even tougher come test time to sort out which way of studying was most effective. Do I go back over all the notes I've ever done?  Do I use some online tutorial?  Do I go to yet another lecture?  There was no easy way.

I found over time that, for me, one of the most important things was that consistent review over time. And we've discussed on the podcast before just how important that is to review consistently over time.

One of the other things I investigated as a resident and later as a program director was the question "Is there any rhyme or reason to what type of study habits get us over the line, or get the residents over the line, to raise ABSITE score?"

Well, there's evidence on it. And as you know, in the podcast, Jessica and I have explored evidence on what makes us effective on the ABSITE. So here we are, again today.

Let's talk about a study from the journal of surgical education from around November, 2014, and you can find this on PubMed, just like all the different articles we discuss.  There's a link here.

Now, this one focuses on how study habits centered on completing review questions raise ABSITE score. We've talked about a lot of other things that correlate with ABSITE score, and you can listen to the other podcasts for that, you know, timing of vacation affect, effect of call status...the list goes on and on.

This article is called "Study habits centered on completing review questions result in quantitatively higher American Board of Surgery inservice training scores." And again, it's from the Journal of Surgical Education. It's by Chang et al.

We'll leave a link on the bottom of the description of the podcast. We'll put it out there on social media where we share new episodes.

Now this one included a review of ABSITE scores of current residents. And the year on this was 2014.  It included current and past general surgery residents at one institution. It was a university hospital. The residents were then later polled to see how they prepared for their first in training examination.

And interestingly here, the mean number of review questions completed by residents was about 517. The research team did a regression analysis and they found out that completing more review questions was associated with a significantly higher percentile score.  They drilled down on it to find that every additional 100 review questions completed by a PGY1 resident would improve ABSITE score percentile score by about 3.1 or so percent.

Now a couple of things to share with you on this. Again, this is one institution. It may turn out that at other institutions, going to lecture, getting the textbook work in, doing online lectures like the ones we offer, having a great review book...those things may have been necessary as preconditions to allow residents to do more questions and propel themselves further.

So there's a lot to unpack here, but I wanted to share that there is evidence that doing review questions is at the very least very important. And you have lots of options for these including True Learn and multiple other options that you can find online. But the bottom line is that review questions are key.  This evidence really matches my experience.

When I was a resident, I found that I really had to do all the background work and reading for long term retention. And then for study time, when I particularly focused on the ABSITE I studied questions.

So it wasn't enough just to have the high yield books and study the right facts. It required hearing the lectures to reinforce what facts were important. And then finally doing questions. So, to share with you here for this podcast, one of the things I think is key:  questions matter.

In this brief episode, I wanted to share with you some of the available evidence on how study habits centered on completing review questions result in quantitatively higher American Board of Surgery in service training exam scores. At least at this one institution they did, and they clearly did experientially speaking in my training.

Make sure you look to those questions.  And take a look at our website AbsiteSmackdown.com for more podcasts and to learn other things that correlate with success on the ABSITE so that you can maximize your time and your outcome. 

Have a great day.  Best of luck and hope things are going well for you.

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