USMLE Step 1 Is Pass/Fail - Should the ABSITE Follow Suit?

J Surg Educ. 2020 Sep 20;S1931-7204(20)30356-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2020.09.006. Online ahead of print.


The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 was recently made pass/fail. This decision was controversial largely because of the reliance on USMLE Step 1 scores in resident selection. However, these scores do not correlate with resident ability. In this manuscript, we consider if the American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (ABSITE) should be pass/fail as well. The ABSITE has been used for "high-stakes" purposes, such as preliminary resident advancement and prospective fellow evaluation, for which it was not intended. Moreover, similar to the USMLE Step 1 exam, ABSITE scores have demonstrated no correlation with clinical ability. A pass/fail ABSITE would return the exam to its original purpose and minimize an over-reliance on scores. Moving forward, new objective measures will need to be developed to assess surgical trainees in a more holistic manner.

Keywords: ABSITE; USMLE; fellowship; residency; testing.