Feedback from candidates

CE Candidate Feedback

The ABS asks all CE candidates to complete a feedback form after the exam. Below is a general sampling of their advice and comments to provide some insight into the experience.

Advice on Preparing for the Exam

  • "Do as many oral cases as possible with faculty, especially in their area of expertise."
  • "Prepare early (3-6 months ahead). Practice scenarios often, daily during your last month."
  • "I would recommend starting to prepare at least two months ahead."
  • "Read broadly. Review practice guidelines at your institution."
  • "Don't waste time on obscure diseases/scenarios; focus on broad general surgery topics."
  • "Make sure to review the anatomy of operations you haven't done in a while."
  • "Don't forget to read about your own specialty!"
  • "Don't study minutiae; focus on the big picture."
  • "Review bread-and-butter general surgery."
  • "Don't study like you did for the QE. Focus on logical and well-organized problem solving."
  • "Concentrate more on areas that you have not seen or experienced since residency."
  • "Practice giving short, succinct answers; do what you would do in real life!"
  • "Practice, practice, practice with colleagues. Even if you know the information, you have to be able to say it."
  • "Practice explaining procedures in a quick, efficient manner."

Advice on Taking the Exam

  • "Don't overthink things."
  • "Know your plan and stick with it. Be confident and don't second-guess yourself."
  • "Focus on answering the questions."
  • "Stay focused. Be systematic. Don't jump to conclusions."
  • "Stay calm. Do not dwell on previous questions/rooms."
  • "Stay calm—treat the examiners like colleagues discussing a case."
  • "Do what you would do in your everyday practice."
  • "Approach cases like real patients."
  • "Take it as soon as you can after the written exam."

Comments About Exam

  • "Fair questions; scenarios were all problems anyone would have encountered in training."
  • "Appropriate for what I am supposed to know."
  • "Much more straightforward and reasonable than expected."
  • "The exam was much more 'bread and butter' than I expected."
  • "Straightforward general surgery cases."
  • "Very fair; much less painful than I expected."
  • "Fair; cases general surgeons would see in practice."
  • "Appreciate examiners trying to keep examinees calm and at ease."
  • "Examiners were kind and reasonable, as you said they would be."
  • "I found my examiners to be very professional, neutral and pleasant."
  • "I thought it was fair, well-conducted. I did not feel intimidated by the examiners."
  • "I had a lot of fears but the examiners helped to the best of their ability to make me feel comfortable."
  • "The examiners were very appropriate and I felt as comfortable as was possible in this situation."