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Quarterly Questions®

The Quarterly Questions® Program

The American Board of Ophthalmology’s Quarterly Questions® program is both a learning activity and an assessment tool. Available online, on-demand, Quarterly Questions challenges you to answer relevant clinical knowledge questions and review timely journal articles at least five times during your 10-year Continuing Certification cycle.

In addition to meeting the Continuing Certification requirement for assessment, participation in various aspects of the Quarterly Questions program can be used to earn CME and self-assessment credit, Patient Safety activity credit, and Improvement in Medical Practice credit.

About the Name

We call the program “Quarterly Questions” because new questions are released each year on a quarterly basis, including optional, bonus questions in the fourth quarter. You are not required to answer questions according to the schedule they are released; keep reading for more details on timing or see Scoring Rules & Participation Requirements for further guidance.

Program Design

Each yearly edition of the Quarterly Questions program assesses the everyday clinical knowledge essential to the practice of ophthalmology and promotes the application of new knowledge from recent peer-reviewed journal articles. You should think of Quarterly Questions as one activity with two components:  

  • Knowledge Assessment
    New knowledge questions are released during the first two quarters of every year. Except for the 2017 version (which focuses only on core ophthalmic knowledge), you will have the option to choose questions in comprehensive ophthalmology or your preferred subspecialty area(s). Because questions are designed to address everyday knowledge, they should not require advance study; however, a test blueprint for these questions is available. In every year that you participate, you should anticipate seeing 40 knowledge questions (30 questions from within your subspecialty and 10 in core ophthalmic knowledge.) To earn a “pass” for a given year of questions, your score on the knowledge section must meet or exceed the annual passing standard AND you must complete the article section in its entirety (see Article-Based Learning below). To complete the entire Quarterly Questions program for your Continuing Certification cycle, you must accumulate five “passes” before the expiration of your certificate (see Scoring Rules & Participation Requirements below for details).

  • Article-Based Learning
    For this section of the activity, teams of board-certified ophthalmologists representing the major ophthalmic subspecialty societies have carefully curated the recent literature and selected journal articles that they consider “must read” publications. Inclusion of an article does not imply ABO endorsement of its conclusions; some themes may be controversial but have been deemed important for practicing clinicians to know. During Quarter 3, you will be asked to choose five of these articles to read at your own pace and answer 10 questions about them. The articles are available to you at no cost, but you must access them using the special links inside the Quarterly Questions platform. Article options from 2019 forward can also help you meet Continuing Certification requirements for Patient Safety and Improvement in Medical Practice. It’s important to note that the primary intent of the article-based section is learning. Your score on the article-based questions is not factored into the score you achieve on the knowledge-based section; however, full completion of the article-based section is still required. In return for your participation in this section, you will have the opportunity to claim CME and self-assessment credit. (See Earning CME/Self-Assessment Credit below.)
What about Quarter 4? Knowledge-based questions are released in Quarters 1 and 2, while article-based questions are released in Quarter 3. The last quarter of every year is now a "bonus" quarter, where participants who have already earned a passing score can explore additional knowledge-based content. See below for more guidance under Scoring Rules & Participation Requirements.

Question & Answer Design

Questions under the “knowledge” category are entirely multiple choice and are designed to assess everyday clinical knowledge in ophthalmology. They are also written specifically to be read and answered within 60 seconds (you will see this timer on your screen as you move through the activity). Some questions may include an image. 

After submitting your answer, the platform will present you with:

  • The text of the question, so you can read it again.
  • The correct answer.
  • The “Key Point,” which addresses the subject matter knowledge necessary to answer the question and the reason why the correct answer is the best choice.
  • References for the question’s source material and further reading on the topic. (This information is also stored in the Question History tab of the online platform so that you can refer to it later.)

Article-based questions provide feedback in the same format; however, you will have two attempts to correctly answer each article-based question. For more information on the content of the assessment, refer to the Quarterly Questions test blueprint.

Accessing & Using the Platform

  • No registration is required. To begin the activity using your computer, tablet, or mobile device, visit questions.abop.org. When prompted, enter the same email address and password you use to log in to your ABO Status Page.
  • The next thing you’ll see is a simple dashboard. Take a moment to look around at the resources and options accessible from this page before beginning the activity.
  • You will have the option to start with the 2017 program and work your way forward; however, you may choose to start with any available year.
  • The 60-second timer starts counting down as soon as you open your first question. Be sure to launch the activity only when you are in a quiet, distraction-free environment. You are free to answer questions at your own pace (one at a time, in small batches, or all in one sitting.)
  • Review the instant feedback on your question-by-question performance and return to your dashboard regularly to track how your score compares (anonymously) to your peers in the ABO diplomate community.

Scoring Rules & Participation Requirements

To earn a “pass” for a given year of questions, your score on the knowledge questions must meet or exceed the annual passing standard AND you must complete the article-based learning section (however, your score on the article section is not factored into your overall percentage).

If your ABO certificate expires on or after December 31, 2021, you will need to meet the annual passing standard for Quarterly Questions five times before the expiration date of your certificate.

The annual passing standard (or “cut score”) is established using a psychometrically validated standard setting method. This method requires a group of peers to estimate the minimum level of clinical decision-making and medical knowledge an ophthalmologist requires to practice competently. Passing standards may be different from year to year to account for differences in the difficulty level of the questions. The passing standard panel takes into account the most stringent of passing requirements (i.e., passing five years for those with certificates expiring in 2021) in setting each year’s passing standard.

Please note that optional, bonus questions are not counted for CME nor are they calculated in your overall score.

Year How Performance is Calculated Passing Standard
2017 % Correct out of 40 knowledge questions (core only)
+ Completion of 10 article-based questions
40%*
2018 % Correct out of 40 knowledge questions (10 core, 30 subspecialty)
+ Completion of 10 article-based questions
60%
2019 % Correct out of 40 knowledge questions (10 core, 30 subspecialty)
+ Completion of 10 article-based questions
65%
2020 % Correct out of 40 knowledge questions (10 core, 30 subspecialty)
+ Completion of 10 article-based questions
65%
2021 % Correct out of 40 knowledge questions (10 core, 30 subspecialty)
+ Completion of 10 article-based questions
67.5%

*In the 2017 pilot year, the ABO referred to the minimum score needed to pass as the "Participation Standard." The Participation Standard was set lower than a true Passing Standard because it was designed to encourage participation and allow diplomates to get acquainted with the new assessment format.

What happens if I fall below the standard? If your certificate expires on or before December 31, 2022, you may qualify for a temporary extension of your certificate by completing all Continuing Certification requirements, including the available years of Quarterly Questions, even if you do not pass. Review the complete extension policy.

Earning CME/Self-Assessment Credit

The 2021 Quarterly Questions program has been approved for 8 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and qualifies for Continuing Certification self-assessment credit (2017 and 2018 program iterations carry 7.5 credits). To become eligible for CME credit for your participation in Quarterly Questions, you must do three things: 1) Answer all available knowledge questions for the year; 2) Score at least 8 questions correct on the article-based learning section of the activity; and 3) Follow the in-platform instructions for claiming credits.  

Accreditation Statement

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and The American Board of Ophthalmology. The American Academy of Ophthalmology is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology designates this enduring material for a maximum of 8 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.  

Special Accommodations

If you require special testing accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), please contact us. The ABO will make reasonable modifications that do not fundamentally alter the requirements of the examination or the measurement of the skills or knowledge the ABO examinations are intended to test. Click here to review the ABO's ADA policy and download the accommodation request form.

Additional Resources