The impact of problem-based learning on surgery residents' education is unknown. In this study we measured the impact of a weekly structured problem-based learning conference on surgery residents' ABSITE scores and compared it to traditional clinical conferences and self-studying. A questionnaire was designed to determine the perceived quality of the basic (PQCB), and the clinical (PQCC) conferences as well as self-studying (PQCS). The Pearson correlation between PQCB, PQCC, PQCS, and attendance at the basic science conference and each of the ABSITE total score (ABSITE), basic science (BS) and clinical science (CS) component scores were calculated. PQCS (4.2) was significantly higher than PQCB (2.9) and PQCC (2.5) (P = 0.0002). PQCS and PQCB correlated highly with each of ABSITE, CS, and BS while PQCc did not show any correlation. A high correlation was also observed between attendance at basic science and each of ABSITE, CS, and BS but narrowly missed significance. It was also observed that BS scores highly correlated to the CS scores at all postgraduate levels (P = 0.0001). We conclude that performance on all components of the ABSITE is mostly dependent on individual residents. This individual factor is boosted by self-studying which can be motivated by instituting a problem-based learning technique within the program. Traditional conferences even if popular among residents have no impact on measurement tests.