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“BoardVitals is the ideal complementary review source for any resident seeking to maximize their board exam review. The otolaryngology questions challenge you to apply your knowledge of frequently-tested ENT principles in a variety of fields, ranging from otology and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery to pediatric otolaryngology and head and neck oncology. Each question is written in a board-style format, and each answer offers a detailed review of key concepts. Otolaryngology residents, myself included, have been waiting for this type of review material to be available for us, and it's finally here. I highly recommend it! ”

Danny Soares
Otolaryngology/Plastics Fellow at Emory University

gold key Key Board Review Features


Otolaryngology Board Review Topics Covered:

  • Pediatrics
  • Pharmacology
  • Allergy
  • Head and Neck
  • Laryngology
  • Otology
  • Plastic and Reconstructive
  • Rhinology
  • Sleep
  • Endocrine

Information about the ABOto Qualifying Exam and the OTE (In-Service Exam)

Qualifying Exam

As stated by the ABOto, "the Qualifying Examination is designed to measure a candidate's ability to recall factual information, interpret clinical data, and solve problems in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery."

OTE / In-Service Exam

The OTE is intended for any resident, practicing otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon, or other interested physician. As stated by the ABOto, it provides an assessment of current knowledge in all areas of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery

What is covered on the ABOto Qualifying Exam and the OTE / In-Service Exam?

According to the Exam Blueprint, the following topics are covered:

  • Basics (Basic Science) 10%
  • Data Gathering & Interpretation 24%
  • Diagnosis 20%
  • Management
    • Non-surgical 13%
    • Surgical principals 5%
    • Surgical 13%
  • Total Management 31%
  • Total Non-fundamentals 85%
  • Clinical fundamentals 15%

Background on the ENT Qualifying Exam versus the Oral Certification Exams

Qualifying Exam (Written)

The written exam is called the ‘Qualifying Examination’ by the ABOto. Note that your exam will have some questions that are not scored. These are previously unused questions that are being field tested (for psychometric scoring). If you see an oddball question, don’t stress. It’s not uncommon for certain questions to just be testing the performance of students as a whole. But since you don’t know which ones are which, do your best on all of them.

The exam will vary in difficulty year to year, but the scores are adjusted based on that difficulty. It’s a dynamic scale, so if the exam is particularly difficult in your year, expect a significant adjustment. The historic pass rate is near 90%, but there are fluctuations year to year. Our question bank tells you how you compare to other ENT specialists, so you can make sure you’re not performing in the bottom 10%.

Oral Certification Exam

The Oral exam is more commonly called the certifying exam. It’s a cognitive exam and it’s important to understand the rationale for the choices. For the oral exam, don’t bring any writing materials. The oral exam is administered over a 2 day period with two sessions for each day. You will participate in either a morning or afternoon session. Oral exams are usually administered in Chicago, but there have been exceptions.

TIP: DON’T say your name to any of the examiners. DO tell someone if there is a conflict with your in-person examiner. It’s a 50 minute interview with 4 different examiners that cover the following areas (protocols):

  • General – Allergy, Laryngology, Rhinology, Pediatric Otolaryngology
  • Head and Neck – Benign and Malignant Tumors, Sleep Medicine
  • Otology/Audiology – Covers Diseases of the Ear
  • Plastic and Reconstructive – Cosmetic Procedures, Reconstructive Procedures

You will receive 3 scores on each protocol. Here are the categories:

  • Data Gathering and Interpretation
  • Differential Diagnosis
  • Management (ability to manage the patient’s condition and surgical/non-surgical options)

TIP: Avoid the ‘shotgun’ approach – this will penalize you.

TIP: Be prepared to ask specific questions. ‘Has this patient experienced ‘X’ before. Not that there MAY BE MORE THAN ONE CORRECT ANSWER. Statements like this may be ‘X’ or may be ‘Y’ are allowed and sometimes are the best approach to the problem.

The IPMA is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The Interstate Postgraduate Medical Association designates this Internet Enduring Material for a maximum of 54 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Further CME info found here.