by Joseph Sujka, MD
For surgical residents around the nation Absite season is upon us. Absite is the yearly General Surgery inservice examination. Now more than ever many residents turn to the Fiser Absite review and online SCORE questions for their yearly review. The issue with both of these resources is that carrying a book is cumbersome and SCORE does not have an application or mobile-friendly website for answering questions. This leaves a void where you either need a computer or book for studying. Since most of us carry smart phones, many applications have attempted to fill this void and Surgery Board Reviews is one such app.
Surgery Board Reviews is part of a series of review titles from Knowledge Testing. They boast that their questions have been formulated by “over 1,000 physician, nursing, and allied health professionals” which includes “a database of over a million classified multiple choice questions, explanations, and keywords.” They state that these questions are peer-reviewed and updated annually with questions being examined if a user identifies a problem question.
When you first download the Surgery Board Review app there is only a practice set of questions available. This serves as an introduction to how the application works and gives you an idea of how questions are presented. There is no official tutorial but by and large the app is self-explanatory and provides a basic interface for question presentation. Within the application you can purchase other sets of questions that provide 1,000 questions for about $10 to $15.
In addition to being able to purchase question sets in the Surgery Board Review app, Knowledge Testing also provides online ‘books’ which are PDFs with the same questions as found in the app. The only difference being that you can access them from a desktop computer. With the purchase of the app’s question sets you do not get access to these online PDFs. I think that for $15 you should be able to access these questions in book form on the computer as well as in the application.
Surgery Board Review lacks many of the features of other similar question banks on the iPhone such as USMLE world or Kaplan. It allows you to answer questions and have several bullet points of information; in addition you can pull up the Medscape page for the topic by clicking ‘more’. Medscape is a bare bones resource and I wish there was an option to pull up UptoDate or another resource rather than Medscape. The only other feature in this application is the flag a mistake option. This opens up an email that you can send to the application’s developers about why you think a question is not appropriate.
In other applications, such as USMLE world, you can break up a question set by groups, highlight or flag answer choices to narrow them down, and make small sub tests for a single topic. Surgery Board Review has none of these features and simply allows you to run straight through 1,000 questions.
It’s difficult to asses the quality of the General Surgery questions given that I’m still an intern, but I can corroborate that many of the questions overlapped with the 2,700 questions on the SCORE website. From my perspective I thought that the questions were good quality and I’m encouraged that I can flag and notify someone about a question’s potential problem.
However, the questions themselves are not referenced, and this should cause pause when using this app as a study tool.
For someone looking for basic questions and answers geared toward ABSITE studying, Surgery Board Review is a capable and simplistic application. Anyone looking for bells and whistles similar to USMLE World or similarly styled apps will be disappointed. If you’re looking to complete a few questions before a case or in the morning before rounds, this application will load quickly and provide that. I’m hopeful that in the future SCORE will create an application to access all their 2,700 questions on a mobile platform but for now Surgery Board Review will be a competent stand in.
- Free with in-app purchases
Many different topics available, quick to load, simplistic.
Simplistic interface, few options for more specific quizzing, no access to questions away from mobile application. The biggest dislike about this app is the lack of references provided for the questions. Going through the website and company page, we’re unable to find references, sourcing, and how the questions are actually produced.
A simplistic, no-frills application that provides review questions quickly and succinctly. Overall a useful application for when you don’t have other material available. Should use this app with caution due to the lack of references provided for the questions.
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- Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad