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OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine whether American Board of Surgery Certifying Examination (CE) performance is improved among residents who prepare using simulated oral examinations (SOEs). DESIGN: EMBASE and MEDLINE were searched using predefined search terms. No language restrictions were imposed and the latest search date was in November 2014. Included studies must have reported on residents training in a general surgery residency in the United States who used SOEs to prepare for the CE and have measured their performance against those without exposure to SOEs. Studies meeting inclusion criteria were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed and a fixed effects meta-analysis was performed to determine the net effect of SOEs on CE performance. RESULTS: Overall, 4 of 25 abstracts reviewed met inclusion criteria and are included in this review. The most common simulation format included public examinations in front of resident peers during scheduled education sessions. All 4 included studies trended toward improved performance with SOEs and in 2 of these studies the improvement was statistically significant. Overall, 3 studies were of adequate quality to perform a meta-analysis and demonstrated a relative risk for first-attempt CE success of 1.22 (95% CI: 1.07-1.39, p = 0.003) for residents preparing with SOEs compared to those without SOEs. CONCLUSIONS: The published literature evaluating SOEs is limited and generally of fair quality. A modest improvement in CE performance was identified when public SOEs were used as an educational tool aimed to improve professionalism and communication skills, encourage reading at home, and provide a regular review of clinically relevant topics.

Original publication




Journal article


J surg educ

Publication Date





1026 - 1031


American Board of Surgery, Interpersonal and Communication Skills, Medical Knowledge, Mock, Professionalism, Simulation, certifying examination, education, oral examination, Education, Medical, Graduate, Educational Measurement, General Surgery, Humans, Internship and Residency, Specialty Boards, United States