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The General Surgery Qualifying Exam is usually taken by general surgery residents after completing residency. The examination consists of approximately 300 multiple-choice questions, which are designed to evaluate the applicant’s knowledge of general surgical principles and applied science.

The exam content includes questions from two main topics: patient care and surgical/medical knowledge. These two topics are then divided into sub-topics to cover different organ systems, such as:
  • abdomen
  • alimentary tract
  • breast
  • endocrine
  • skin and soft tissue
  • thoracic
  • vascular
  • head and neck

In addition to these organ systems, the exam also focuses on questions regarding perioperative care, trauma, critical care, endoscopy and other miscellaneous topics.

Even though the exam should have a question or two on most (if not all) of these topics, there are definitely topics that will benefit from a review prior to the exam so as not to miss them in the qualifying examination. 

General Surgery Qualifying Exam (QE) High-Yield Topics:

  • Gastrointestinal tract
    • Small and large bowels 

  • Critical care-related questions:
    • Shock and its management 
    • Resuscitation 
    • ABCs of ACLS

  • Breast diseases
    • Management of breast disease 
    • Margins when doing specific excisions 
    • Inflammatory breast cancer
    • DCIS vs. invasive cancers 
    • Genetics 

  • Endocrine 
    • Thyroid diseases: types and appropriate associated management 
    • Parathyroid diseases

  • Trauma 
    • Management of different traumas
    • Understanding ABCDEs of trauma and management based on that 

  • Hernias

  • Pancreatic neoplasms

  • Liver nodules

  • Statistics 

These are just some of the topics that are seen day in and day out, not only on the ABSITE, but also on Qualifying Exam. Use these high-yield topics as a starting place but be sure be comprehensive with your topic preparation! 


General Surgery Board Exam Overview

How to Study for the General Surgery Qualifying Exam

4 Best Study Resources for the General Surgery Qualifying Exam

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One-on-one tutoring for In-Training Exams and certification boards.
Sheel Patel

Sheel Patel

Sheel is an alumna of Old Dominion University at Norfolk, Virginia, where she tutored students in chemistry, math and physics. Finishing her school education in India, Sheel has always had a strong suit for tutoring and teaching others. She continued this passion throughout medical school where she tutored her colleagues in various subjects such as pharmacology and physiology while helping them prepare for Step 1 examination. She is currently pursuing her 5th year in the general surgery residency at the Wayne State University. Going forward she is set to start a cardiothoracic fellowship at University of Kentucky in 2021.
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