How it Works: Understanding Quarterly Questions® Scoring


With a passing standard set at 67.5%, aim for at least 27 out of 40 correct answers on the 2021 Quarterly Questions® activity.


Why is the passing standard 67.5%?

The goal of Quarterly Questions is to affirm that diplomates who pass the assessment “are up-to-date in the knowledge base and clinical decision-making skills necessary to provide competent ophthalmic care to their patients.” With this standard in mind, a team of American Board of Ophthalmology directors and subject matter experts from different areas of ophthalmic practice analyze past Quarterly Questions data to help predict future performance and arrive at a minimum score that reflects an acceptable level of knowledge and skills. As with all ABO assessments, there is no scoring on a curve, so it remains possible for all Quarterly Questions participants to pass as long as they meet or exceed the 67.5% standard.


Why is the passing standard higher than in 2020?

The 2021 passing standard is one question or 2.5% higher than it was in 2020. From year to year, the passing standard may increase or decrease based on factors such as past performance and anticipated difficulty level. This year, the Standard Setting Panel determined that the new questions were slightly less difficult than previous iterations of the program, resulting in a modest increase in the standard. Recent reports show that 99.4% of more than 4,000 Quarterly Questions participants passed the 2020 activity and it is expected that performance on the 2021 edition will be roughly the same.


Why are the 2021 questions expected to be less difficult?

Three factors influenced the Board’s determination. First, with an increased focus on improving core content, subject matter experts were able to create core questions for 2021 that are expected to prove more relevant to all ophthalmologists. Next, subject matter experts saw their proposed questions undergo an additional round of peer review for enhanced quality control. Finally, as subject matter experts become increasingly more experienced in their dual roles as content writers and program participants, they can more readily identify, from both perspectives, what constitutes a fair, valid question.


What if the 2021 questions do not perform as expected?

Each year, Quarterly Questions content undergoes an additional quality insurance check known as key validation, where individual item performance is reviewed and analyzed. As you work through the Quarterly Questions activity, be sure to submit your feedback on each question because diplomate comments factor into the final “fairness check.”


How do article questions affect my score?

Your performance on article questions does not increase or decrease your score in relation to the passing standard. However, to earn credit for one year of Quarterly Questions in 2021, you must answer at least 10 article-based questions (Quarter 3) in addition to meeting the passing standard on the 40 knowledge-based questions in Quarters 1 and 2. To claim CME credit for your participation, you must successfully complete the knowledge questions and submit a total of 8 correct answers on the article section.


How many times do I need to pass Quarterly Questions?

If you hold a certificate that expires in 2021 or later, you will need to reach the passing standard at least five times during your 10-year Continuing Certification cycle. Previous, unanswered years of Quarterly Questions remain accessible in the Quarterly Questions platform to allow you to catch up.


Are there any tips or strategies for performing well on the activity?

1. Try to answer Quarterly Questions only when you are situated in a quiet, distraction-free environment with access to a reliable internet connection. This will make it easier for you to focus on the content without any interruptions.

2. Because all 40 knowledge questions are scored, you should choose questions from the subspecialty area(s) where you possess the most expertise and experience. You can explore less familiar subspecialty areas in the Bonus Quarter (Quarter 4), which contains optional content that won’t impact your overall score.

3. Review the Quarterly Questions Test Blueprint document and the available list of references in advance. The blueprint outlines the topic areas you can expect to see on the activity, while the reference list will point you to a series of peer-reviewed articles and reference materials used by subject matter experts to develop the content.

© 2021 American Board of Ophthalmology