Does cramming work? Impact of National Web-Based Thoracic Surgery Curriculum login frequency on thoracic surgery in-training exam performance

Jessica G.Y. Luc, Edward D. Verrier, Mark S. Allen, Lauren Aloia, Craig Baker, James I. Fann, Mark D. Iannettoni, Stephen C. Yang, Ara A. Vaporciyan, Mara B. Antonoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Web-based curricula provide login data that can be advantageously used to characterize and analyze study habits. We sought to compare thoracic surgical trainee In-Training Examination percentiles with regard to their study habits (ie, cramming), as characterized by curriculum login frequency to the national Web-based Thoracic Surgery Curriculum. Furthermore, we then aimed to characterize the curriculum login frequency of trainees as stratified by their performance on the In-Training Examination and their improvement on the In-Training Examination over subsequent years. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of trainees who accessed the curriculum before the 2014 In-Training Examination, with curriculum login data collected from site analytics. Scores were compared between trainees who crammed (≥30% increase in logins in the month before the In-Training Examination) and those who did not. Trainees were stratified on the basis of 2014 In-Training Examination percentile and improvement in percentile from 2013 to 2014 into high, medium, and low scorers and improvers. Results: Of 256 trainees who took the 2014 In-Training Examination, 63 (25%) met criteria as crammers. Crammers increased total study sessions immediately before the In-Training Examination (P <.001), but without impact on 2014 In-Training Examination percentile (P =.995) or year-to-year improvement (P =.234). Stratification by In-Training Examination percentile demonstrated that highest scoring trainees used the curriculum more frequently in the final month than medium-range scorers (P =.039). When stratified by extent of year-to-year improvement, those who improved the most accessed the curriculum significantly more often in the last month compared with baseline (P =.040). Moreover, those with greatest improvement logged in more in the final month than those with least improvement (P =.006). Conclusions: Increasing the frequency of study periods on the national Web-based thoracic surgery curriculum before the In-Training Examination may have a unique benefit to trainees who initially score low to allow them to significantly improve their subsequent year In-Training Examination performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)922-927
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • educational research
  • general education
  • residency education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Does cramming work? Impact of National Web-Based Thoracic Surgery Curriculum login frequency on thoracic surgery in-training exam performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this