How to Study for the OITE

Claire McDaniel, MD | Liana Tedesco, MD

May 25, 2022


Orthopedic surgery residents sit for the AAOS Orthopedic In Training Exam (OITE) each November. Finding the best study strategy can be difficult, let alone finding the time to study! Though it is challenging, developing good study habits in the early years of residency will help your eventual board studying time. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

First things first, remember that the OITE is an assessment tool. The exam is meant to help you understand your knowledge of “established principles and conventional procedures and treatment in orthopaedic surgery.”1. It is helpful to review the resident guide to understand the blueprint. Use each testing opportunity to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Are you scoring in the 90th percentile on trauma surgery, but 30th percentile for sports medicine? Take note of this and recognize you may need to focus more study energy on certain subject matters.

Throughout the year, a great way to learn is through your cases, be it in clinic, on consults or the OR. I have found that being able to connect a specific patient to a certain piece of knowledge is most effective.  As a junior resident seeing consults in the pediatric ED, check out a review article on pediatric hip pain and try to memorize the Kocher criteria. If you have a consult for a distal radius fracture, review management principles in the primary literature before you make your way to the ER to reduce it! As you get more senior in residency, you can build on this knowledge base. If you have 10 minutes to spare, take a few minutes to do questions on that topic to reinforce what you learned!

Which brings us to the next study tool: questions! As the OITE test date gets closer, an effective way to study is through doing questions. Study not only the correct answer, but also the incorrect ones! You likely used this skill while you were studying for the USMLE exams and the OITE is no different. AAOS ResStudy has a great question bank with answer explanations and reference you can used to improve your orthopedic surgery knowledge.

Lastly, make a plan! Start by identifying which resources are best for you. This may be textbooks, video lectures, flashcards, or maybe questions alone. No matter what resources you use, it is crucial to remain consistent and cover as much material as you can. Once you have done an initial pass through, recognize where you may have knowledge gaps or weakness and dedicate some extra time to reading about these topics. Keep in mind, Basic Science and Oncology make up nearly 20% of the exam and these facts are great to review close to test date.

1Orthopedic In-Training Examination Resident Guide, 2021. AAOS.


DISCLOSURES: Dr. McDaniel a close family member who works for Ferring Pharmaceuticals (makes Euflexxa). Dr. Tedesco This individual reported nothing to disclose.

Read the AAOS Code of Conduct for Discussion Group Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers HERE.

Copyright© 2022 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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