The Israeli Surgical Oral Board Examination: Improved Objectivity Increases Knowledge Authenticity

Guy Pines*, Ofir Ben-Ishay, David Hochstein, Guy Lahat, Gil Ohana, Gilbert Sebbag, Yoram Kluger, Ariel Halvey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The oral board examination in general surgery in Israel was recently revised aiming for improved objectivity and standardization. Herein, we describe the current exam model. Between 05/2018 and 11/2020, two exams per year were conducted with the current exam model. The examination consists of 12 stations, each focusing on a different field. Passing score is 80%. At the end of the examination, examiners and candidates complete a questionnaire regarding the examination’s process and quality (scale 1–5). A total of 142 residents attended six oral board examinations. Mean pass rate was 76.6 ± 9.5%. Questions with overall highest pass rates were acute-care surgery (86.6 ± 4.8%), foregut surgery (84.6 ± 7.6%), and colorectal surgery (84 ± 8.1%). Questions with the highest fail rates were surgical oncology (31.7 ± 13.3%) and abdominal-wall surgery (28.8 ± 16.9%). Examiners’ feedback scored highest the following: standardization of the exam (4.45 ± 0.63) and whether the presented cases reflect the daily work of an attending surgeon (4.35 ± 0.87). Candidates’ feedback scored highest the following: did the examiners treat you in an appropriate manner (4.08 ± 1.17). In conclusion, oral exams are challenging and bear limitations, but properly constructed exams allow good evaluation of the trainees’ thinking process and decision-making skills, without compromising exam’s integrity and standardization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-274
Number of pages6
JournalIndian Journal of Surgery
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Objectivity
  • Oral board examination
  • Standardization
  • Trainee evaluation


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