Predicting and enhancing American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination performance: does writing questions really help?

Am J Surg. 2016 Feb;211(2):361-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2015.08.033. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Background: The generative learning model posits that individuals remember content they have generated better than materials created by others. The goals of this study were to evaluate question generation as a study method for the American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (ABSITE) and determine whether practice test scores and other data predict ABSITE performance.

Methods: Residents (n = 206) from 6 general surgery programs were randomly assigned to one of the two study conditions. One group wrote questions for practice examinations. All residents took 2 practice examinations.

Results: There was not a significant effect of writing questions on ABSITE score. Practice test scores, United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 scores, and previous ABSITE scores were significantly correlated with ABSITE performance.

Conclusions: The generative learning model was not supported. Performance on practice tests and other data can be used for early identification of residents at risk of performing poorly on the ABSITE.

Keywords: ABSITE; Medical knowledge; Surgical education.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Graduate*
  • Educational Measurement*
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Learning*
  • Models, Educational
  • United States
  • Writing*