Preparing for the Exam

Candidates are encouraged to prepare for the oral examination using the following ABO resources:

  • Candidate Manual / Handbook (link opens in new tab): Read about the examination purpose, format, performance criteria, and scoring, along with important test day information and candidate policies.
  • Candidate Performance Criteria: Understand how exam performance is assessed in three specific areas: data acquisition, diagnosis, and management.
  • Sample Case Content: Review three clinical cases representative of the examination.
  • Sample Case & Explainer Videos: Watch a candidate navigate the sample cases with an examiner and then review the examiner's discussion of the correct answer.

Candidate Performance Criteria

The oral examination will evaluate your ability to apply the cognitive knowledge that you successfully demonstrated on the written qualifying examination in the clinical care of patients. The oral examination consists of a series of Patient Management Problems (PMPs), which are specific clinical scenarios.
 
Examiners will assess your performance on each PMP in the categories of  Data Acquisition, Diagnosis, and Management based on how well you address the criteria listed below. The ABO encourages you to treat the performance criteria as a useful checklist for the formation of a clear, systematic, and comprehensive approach to each PMP.
 
Candidate performance on each PMP is evaluated using the following criteria:
 
1. Data Acquisition 

Data Acquisition refers to how well the candidate obtains historical and examination information to fully evaluate a particular case. This rating is used to assess the acquisition of data critical to the provision of quality patient care. Candidates are required to:

  • Elicit relevant historical information from the patient.  

  • Identify important findings in the clinical examination and order appropriate testing.  


2. Diagnosis 

Diagnosis refers to the candidate’s ability to synthesize historical and physical evaluation information, along with appropriate ancillary testing data, to arrive at a correct diagnosis and reasonable alternative diagnoses. Candidates are required to:

  • Generate a differential diagnosis based on information collected in the history, ocular examination, and ancillary testing. 

  • Identify the most likely diagnosis.   


3. Management 

Management refers to the appropriateness of the treatment plan, including prognosis, follow-up, and the ability to manage complications. Other important components of management that may be evaluated are communication, professionalism, and systems-based practice competencies. Candidates are required to:

  • Provide a safe and effective plan for medical and/or surgical management of patients with the conditions depicted or described, including possible alternatives and/or the proper referral of the patient. 

  • Recognize potential complications of proposed treatments including surgery and make accurate inferences regarding the expected outcomes and prognosis.  

  • Be able to communicate the management plan in a clear and ethical manner, which may include explaining how information is communicated to the patient or family.

Review how this Performance Criteria maps to a sample examination discussion.


Sample Case Content

Each PMP represents a specific patient or clinical scenario. Your task is to explain, in a clear and organized manner, how you would care for the described patient in each scenario. Because your online exam is divided into three distinct portions or "rooms," you will always know which two of six potential clinical topic areas your case may focus on:

  • (1) Optics, Visual Physiology, & Correction of Refractive Errors / (2) Anterior Segment of the Eye
  • (3) Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus / (4) External Eye and Adnexa
  • (5) Neuro-Ophthalmology and Orbit / (6) Posterior Segment of the Eye

Below are three sample cases designed to represent the style of PMPs you will see on your online exam. Each PMP always contains what's known as the question "stem," or the description/details of the case. Some, but not all, PMPs contain one or more images.

Candidate discussions of each case are provided in the simulation videos at the bottom of this page. Before viewing the answers, try practicing how you would approach each case using the checklist for Data Acquisition, Diagnosis, and Management listed above. 


Sample PMP #1
Optics, Visual Physiology, & Correction of Refractive Errors / Anterior Segment of the Eye

65-year-old man comes for a second opinion one month after cataract extraction in his right eye, because of dissatisfaction with his uncorrected visual acuity.

Uncorrected VA OD = 20/100
Preop Manifest refraction OD: -2.25 + 0.50 x 180 = 20/80
Postop Manifest refraction OD: +3.00 sphere = 20/20


Sample PMP #2
Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus / External Eye and Adnexa

A 10-month-old girl has the lesion shown.

Oral-Exam-Sample-2-image


Sample PMP #3
Neuro-Ophthalmology and Orbit / Posterior Segment of the Eye

58-year-old man is seen for blurred vision in the right eye. 

Oral-Exam-Sample-3-ImageA

Subsequent images are later shown upon candidate request:

Oral-Exam-Sample-3-ImageB

Oral-Exam-Sample-3-ImageC


Case Discussion & Analysis Videos

Based on the sample cases above, simulation videos were created to demonstrate how case discussions are handled between examiners and candidates in an online exam environment. Following each case discussion, a brief video created by the examiner explains what the candidate did well.

Although you may see several video panels in these samples, in each of your three exam rooms, you should expect to see two examiners along with your own video panel displayed. Occasionally, an "examiner-in-training" may observe for learning purposes or a member of ABO leadership may visit your virtual exam room as a quality control measure.

Sample PMP #1
Optics, Visual Physiology, & Correction of Refractive Errors / Anterior Segment of the Eye

The candidate describes how she would approach the case of a 65-year-old man who is seeking a second opinion following cataract extraction.

To support candidate preparation efforts, the examiner featured in this sample video describes what the candidate did well in her discussion of the case. Remember that on your actual exam, examiners will not provide an analysis of your performance.



Sample PMP #2
Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus / External Eye and Adnexa

The candidate discusses how she would manage the care of a 10-month-old girl with the lesion depicted in the case photo.

To support candidate preparation efforts, the examiner featured in this sample video describes what the candidate did well in her discussion of the case. Remember that on your actual exam, examiners will not provide an analysis of your performance.

Sample PMP #3
Neuro-Ophthalmology and Orbit / Posterior Segment of the Eye

The candidate explains what she would do for the 58-year-old man in this clinical scenario who is experiencing blurred vision.

To support candidate preparation efforts, the examiner featured in this sample video describes what the candidate did well in her discussion of the case. Remember that on your actual exam, examiners will not provide an analysis of your performance.



The ABO extends its sincere thanks to examiners Tamara Fountain, MD, and Francesca Giliberti, MD, JD, along with recently certified diplomate Niloofar Piri, MD, Class of 2020, for making these candidate demonstration materials possible.