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Get to Know the Quarterly Questions Program

The American Board of Ophthalmology’s new Quarterly Questions program brings the future of assessment in clinical knowledge to today’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. Both a learning activity and an assessment tool, the Quarterly Questions program is available online, on-demand and may be completed at your own pace. The program invites you to answer questions in increments throughout the 10-year cycle in order to measure practice-related knowledge in a longitudinal manner. After December 1, 2018, the Quarterly Questions program will fully replace the DOCK Examination for all diplomates.

About the Name

We call the program “Quarterly Questions” because new questions for each year are released on a quarterly basis. You are not required to answer questions every quarter or even every year; see below for more guidance under “Scoring Rules & Participation Requirements.”

Program Design

Each yearly edition of the Quarterly Questions program assesses the everyday clinical knowledge necessary 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 2 components:

  • Knowledge Assessment New knowledge questions are released during 2 out of 4 quarters per 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 specific subspecialties. Because questions are designed to cover everyday knowledge, they should not require advance study; however, a content outline for these questions is available. In every year that you participate, you should anticipate 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 questions must meet or exceed the annual passing standard AND you must complete the learning section in its entirety (see “Article-Based Learning” below). To complete the entire Quarterly Questions program, you must accumulate 3-5 annual “passes” within your MOC cycle (see “Scoring Rules & Participation Requirements” below for details).

  • Article-Based Learning For this section of the activity, teams of practicing board-certified ophthalmologists have carefully curated important “must-read” journal articles from within your subspecialty and across ophthalmology. You will be asked to choose 5 of these articles to read at your own pace and answer a total of 10 questions about them. The articles are available to you at no cost, but to avoid the publications’ paywall, you must access them using the special links inside the Quarterly Questions platform. Beginning in 2019, article options will also help you meet the ABO’s MOC requirements for Patient Safety and Improvement in Medical Practice. It’s important to note that the true intent of the article-based section is learning. Your score on the article-based questions is not factored into the score you achieved on the knowledge-based section; however, full completion of the article-based questions is required. In recognition of your participation, you may claim CME and Self-Assessment CME credit. (See “Earning CME/SACME Credit” below.)

Remember: is not necessary to complete the Quarterly Questions program every year; 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.

Once you’ve selected an answer, you’ll see a screen asking you to rate the question’s clinical relevance and to tell us how confident you felt about your answer. Your feedback about the question does not affect your score, but it does help the ABO perform continuous quality control on the content of Quarterly Questions.

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

  • The text of the question, so you can read it again.

  • The correct answer.

  • A “Key Point,” which addresses the subject matter knowledge necessary to answer the question.

  • A “Critique,” which explains why the correct answer is the best choice, followed by a brief commentary about why the other choices are not appropriate.

  • References for the question’s source material and further reading on the topic. (Don’t worry -- this information is also stored in the Question History tab of your online platform so that you can refer to it later.)

Article-based questions provide feedback in the same format; however, you will have 5 minutes and 2 attempts to correctly answer each article-based question.

Accessing & Using the Platform

  • No registration is required. To begin the activity, access the Quarterly Questions platform via computer, tablet, or mobile device at When prompted, use the same email address and password you use to log in to your MOC 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 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 knowledge 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 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 in its entirety. To complete the entire Quarterly Questions program for your MOC cycle, you must accumulate 3-5 annual “passes” based on the expiration date of your ABO certificate:

  • If your ABO certificate expires on or before December 31, 2020, you will need to meet the annual passing standard for Quarterly Questions 3 times before the expiration date.

  • If your ABO certificate expires on or after December 31, 2021, you will need to meet the annual passing standard for Quarterly Questions 5 times before the expiration date.

The annual passing standard (or “cut score”) is established using a psychometrically-validated standard setting method. Passing standards may be different from year to year to account for differences in difficulty level of the questions. The passing standard for the 2018 Quarterly Questions is 60% correct.

During the transition to Quarterly Questions, the ABO has created a temporary certificate extension policy to allow diplomates to accumulate the required number of passes. Please write or call the ABO office if you have any questions.

Earning CME/SACME Credit

The Quarterly Questions program has been approved for CME and Self-Assessment CME credit. To become eligible for CME/SACME credit for your participation in Quarterly Questions, you must do 3 things: 1) Answer all available knowledge questions for the year; 2) Score at least 80% (8 out of 10 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 7.5 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. 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.

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