How important are American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination scores when applying for fellowships?

Aaron T. Miller, Gary William Swain, Maria Widmar, Celia M. Divino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The American Board of Surgery In-Training examination (ABSITE) first was administered in 1975 to evaluate a resident's general knowledge as well as the deficiencies within the resident and surgical program. The added importance of this examination in recent years stems from a correlation between ABSITE performance and performance on the American Board of Surgery qualifying examination. However, data are lacking in regard to how fellowship programs view ABSITE scores when considering applicants. Thus, this study was initiated to determine the importance of the ABSITE for surgical residents applying to fellowships. STUDY DESIGN: Program coordinators and directors of various surgical fellowships were sent a short survey in regard to the ABSITE. The data then were analyzed. RESULTS: One hundred forty-eight surveys were completed, with 74.8% of the programs ranking the importance of ABSITE scores as 3 or 4 (on a scale of 1 through 5). Most programs (78.9%) reported no minimum percentile requirement. Those that did required a mean percentile of 54.4. Of the programs, 57.8% placed a greater emphasis on the senior examination versus the junior examination (p = 0.06). When compared with other application factors, the ABSITE score ranked 3rd behind letters of recommendation and a candidate's residency program. Colon and rectal surgery placed the highest importance on ABSITE scores, whereas transplant surgery placed the lowest importance. CONCLUSION: The ABSITE score is an important factor for residents applying to surgical fellowship; however, more weight is given to candidates' letters of recommendation and his or her residency program. Applicants should aim to score above the 50th percentile to be competitive for most fellowship programs. Copyright (c) 2010 Association of Program Directors in Surgery. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-151
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


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