Absite Smackdown! · Episode 47: Key Facts About The Absite

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All links referenced in the podcast transcript are visible in the video podcast above. Check out the Absite Smackdown! Channel for each of the links mentioned.




Dr. Kashmer: Welcome back to the podcast today! We're going to do something that you've seen us do before on the podcast. And that is to share a section directly from our review book, ABSITE Smackdown! And I felt that this information is particularly useful, especially for first and early year residents, as they go to take the ABSITE in this January or early February (depending on when your program gives it). 


This lecture is very personal for me because this is the one that I really wish I had before the first time I took the ABSITE. So we're going to share that with you today. And before we do, let me tell you just a few things first. 


This is a lecture directly from the course. As you probably know, we're revamping the course now, and this is one of the earliest lectures in that series. 


Dr. Kashmer: This is based on ABSITE SmackDown! version 2.0 and ABSITE SmackDown version 3.0, which is coming soon. ABSITE SmackDown V 2.0 is available at ABSITESmackdown.com, along with the course. And you can also get that on Amazon.


Recently and really, very exciting to me: the team released The ABSITE Smackdown Coloring Book, and this is in response to what you all in the community have told us. And we're really excited about it. We took more than 30 high yield images and adapted them and added them into the book. And we're just so excited to see it finally happen. So that released on Amazon. Go on over there and get yourself a copy. Leave a review if you liked it. And I can't say enough about how excited we are. So what comes after this is the first main lecture from The ABSITE Smackdown review course. And it's all about Facts about the ABSITE test itself. So with that, I hope you enjoy this free content. And now, like we say…let's get to it! 




Dr. Kashmer: Welcome back to the ABSITE Smackdown review course. My name is David Kashmer. I'll continue hosting you all the way through and today let's talk about key facts about the ABSITE. If you are experienced in the ABSITE, odds are you know many of these already, but I think this lecture will assist you in learning some of the maybe more minor points that you didn't know. But sure it can be useful for the test and for our intern colleagues out there—all those PGY-1s. My hope is this will help you early on. and it's something I could have used when I started off as an intern. 


So for the talk that I never had, but wish I did, let's go!


Once upon a time, the ABSITE was administered on paper/. It moved to computer and then things changed further to recognize the differences between senior and junior residents. The American Board of Surgery…that's the group that administers, by the way, the ABSITE. ABSITE is the American Board of Surgery Inservice Training Exam sometimes called the American Board of Surgery In-training Exam. Either way, the ABS created a version of the test for each level of two levels. There was a junior and a senior exam. 


And then, in approximately 2014, the ABSITE returned to a single test format. All surgery residents now take one version of the test on a computer in a single five-hour block. Now there are approximately 250 multiple choice questions. It's administered in January, late January, about the 28th into early February. Your program has some leeway owing to availability of conference rooms, computers, and things like that. So anywhere from around the 28th to the beginning of February is the window. You receive your results in March, but often your program receives results much earlier and can share them with you. Often, that’s in February. 


Dr. Kashmer: Now the ABSITE is not required for eventual board certification in Surgery, but like it says on the slide I've never seen or heard of an accredited residency program that didn't use the ABSITE every single year. In fact, residency programs have to order the ABSITE from the ABS. The residency programs are responsible for administering the test to the residents. Now, if you have questions after the test, like what's my SCORE, what was this issue or that, the American Board of Surgery is not going to answer you. They don't send any information directly to the test taker. They only release it to the residency. Everything must come from your program.



Dr. Kashmer: Your program, again, shares your SCORE report with you in February or later, and the ABS looks for certain testing irregularities. And if they feel that something's amiss, they're going to request an investigation by your program director. Your program director will choose disciplinary action based on what he / she finds. If anything, in short, your program can be severely penalized. The ABS can go above and beyond your program director and often does. It will take your director’s recommendations and look at them and often extend or make changes or additions. 


So this slide is to remind us about gambling. Be careful! Don't cheat and just play the game fairly. Let it be a test of what you've learned from this course and any other materials you chose to use. You can't share questions from the ABSITE with anyone without violating the American Board of Surgery Ethics and Professionalism policy. Don't share questions. Don't share them across time zones. Don't help your buddies across the country. I know we all want to be helpful, especially to our friends, but again, the American Board of Surgery looks for testing irregularities. If it finds them, you're going to get in trouble. And even if you weren't going to get in trouble, the right thing to do is play the game straight. 


Dr. Kashmer: Now here's an important information page. All about the ABSITE. This link will take you right to ABS website info, put out by the American Board of Surgery. It includes a lot of information about test length, a practice test interface…it takes you to the ABS info page. And it's a good idea to look at that before you start studying facts that will be tested on the ABSITE itself. They have an entire page that lists it all in PDF form. How many questions there are, what percentage of the test comes from each section, etc. Now, if these webpages move, don't worry. the links that we have here, they're referral links. If you click on one of those, we'll make sure it gets directed to where it needs to go. As of last check. this link is current and active and takes you right to the right page. 


Dr. Kashmer: So that's a link directly to the ABS site content sheet from the American Board of Surgery, and it shares some important facts about current ABSITE content, including the fact that the ABSITE follows the Surgical Council On Resident Education or SCORE curriculum. Now SCORE curriculum is designed to go throughout an entire residency. So five years of clinical work. That's part of why review books are useful. They help you compress, or at least have seen, a lot of the SCORE curriculum type facts…not the exact SCORE curriculum. It lets you see the facts that are commonly tested on the ABSITE and those things that you can pick up more quickly than having to go through the full five-year curriculum. That's one reason review books are useful, but not the only one. And we make no claim that this is a replacement for SCORE curriculum or your textbooks. 


Dr. Kashmer: A review book, however, will help you to perform your best, jog your memory, and review things you already know in preparation for the exam. It'll teach you some new things, but we're not here to replace the SCORE curriculum. And we are not here to replace those standard textbooks of Surgery that are so important. Now that said 80% of the ABSITE focuses on clinical management topics. And about 20% covers applied science (that used to be called the ‘basic science’) topics, 72% of the questions, concern SCORE patient care topics. Again, these are spread over five years typically and 24% are SCORE medical knowledge topics. 4% are other topics that content sheet that we posted the link to even shares specific categories and how much they're focused on and the test. 


Dr. Kashmer: Once you've looked at that previous link and the relevant information, including the waiting visit this link on the SCORE curriculum, we have it listed there as a referral link to the ABS outline to the SCORE curriculum. So now once you've looked at all those links, you've looked at what the ABSITE is. You've looked at what it covers. You looked at how it's weighted and you looked what each content area means. Now, before we get into the specifics about what's tested, it's worthwhile to get to know how the test interface works on the computer. If you've never seen it, or if you've seen it once a year, this may be really worthwhile for you. There's a practice test interface for you and that's at, this link, ABSITE practice. You can go there and it will show you how that interface works, how it looks, how to Mark questions for later review it's worthwhile. So you're not discovering it on the day of the test.


Dr. Kashmer: The piano photo? Oh sure. That's there to kind of remind us that practice with the interface makes perfect. So that on the test day, you're not having to pull some incredible move to figure out how the test works, where the timer is, and other important info. You can do this stuff and it's amazing. but if you're just doing it for the first time, it's a heck of an ask to get it all correct right off the bat. So doing things ahead of time and getting used to the interface is really worthwhile. 


Okay. Now that you know how the test looks, and you know what’s covered, and you know typically how long the test is, just remember: review books are great, especially when you don't have time or the ability to review a complete book or a complete work, but they are review books. There's no review book that contains every single thing. 


Dr. Kashmer: We tried to include all the important stuff when we made the Absite SmackDown! review book. but every review book that you look at does not have every single thing that you may need to know. The team has reviewed them all! And the SCORE curriculum is fantastic. The challenge is it's spread over several years and that's part of why review books are useful. So review books and courses like this don't substitute for things like the full SCORE curriculum, but they will help you work and study over time, as well as promote long-term retention. 


We all know that our time is really scarce and having a version of the material we know, right at hand, is really helpful. 


The #ProjectSmackdown team has tried to blend in ways to study on a daily basis—ways that are kind of in the middle of the things you're doing anyway. So the Insta feed with photos, the Facebook feed, the Absite Smackdown Podcast--those all give you ways to re review facts that do not require you to sit down with a book because sometimes you just can't sit down with a book. Even if you want to.



Dr. Kashmer: Here’s the summary. The ABSITE is now one test version that's given to all PGY levels. We focused on how the ABSITE follows the SCORE curriculum. We've focused on the fact that the ABSITE is administered by each residency program as a single five-hour block in late January or early February, and approximately 250 multiple choice questions are on the test. Some of them are practice questions—questions they're floating out there to see how they do and perform. It can be very hard to figure out which those are. And so probably not as important to try to sort out, which are the practice questions.


Remember our advice: don't cheat on the test. It prevents the test from functioning as an indicator of what you know. Now, originally, the ABSITE was designed to be a referendum on your program and how your program prepared you to be an autonomous, functioning surgeon who had all the required core knowledge. And it still does that to a great degree, but more and more it's become a referendum on how you studied and how you've prepared in what you know. So if you do share questions and violate the ABS ethics policy, if you do, somehow, do something that is not sanctioned in terms of cheating to perform better on the test, remember that the ABS looks for regularities. We talked about the pathway and what would happen and my recommendation is: don't do it. 


Dr. Kashmer: Remember review books like this one don't substitute for things like the full SCORE curriculum, but the full SCORE curriculum is spread out over several years. There's a certain usefulness about having a review course that you don't have to travel for. One that's right in front of you and that hits the important review facts. And that's what we designed this to do. So the Insta feed, the podcast, all these different things to help you review in different ways. And again, we try to keep most of it free. 


We thank you for helping build the community by purchasing the book and course, and again, I’ll share that the SCORE curriculum really is a valuable thing. Remember, Absite Smackdown! will help you, but it doesn't substitute for working consistently over time to master surgical content. 


The links we provided are useful to teach you what content will be tested and how it lines up with SCORE along with the specifics about what SCORE is for each section and how the computer testing interface looks and feels. So we've listed those here.


And here’s where to go for more information and things like free lectures: there's that Insta feed. It's @Daily.ABSITE.fact.


On Facebook, you can find us @AbsiteSmackDown and on Twitter @AbsiteSmackDown. LinkedIn? Same thing: @AbsiteSmackDown and on YouTube we’re the AbsiteSmackDown channel, where we share video podcasts.


The Absite SmackDown audio, the Absite SmackDown original podcast, is on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Amazon, and many others along with.


Thanks so much for your time today and now let’s get ready for the next one!

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