The Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAP) exam is a 260-item, multiple-choice examination taken by U.S. and Canadian ophthalmology residents. It measures your progress throughout residency and helps prepare you for the boards.
If you are just beginning your residency, there’s a multitude of resources available to help you prepare for the exam. Below are resources I found useful during residency to build a solid foundation of knowledge, strengthen traditionally challenging topics, complete regular self-assessment and share helpful study tools.
Build a solid foundation of knowledge
Basic and Clinical Science Course™ (BCSC®)
Published by the Academy, this series of 13 textbooks is essential to ophthalmology residency education. I highly recommend taking your own notes as you read to serve as a supplement. You can then return to the original text as a reference when needed. Completing all 13 books is no easy task for a busy resident, and it will require a well-planned reading schedule. Luckily, YO Info offers a suggested guide: aao.org/young-ophthalmologists/yo-info/article/first-year-resident-reading-guide.
Review of Ophthalmology
By William Trattler, MD, Peter K. Kaiser, MD, and Neil Friedman, MD
This book is written in a study guide format. It can be helpful to add your own notes, mnemonics and references as you review the text. This may prove most helpful as you complete the BCSC above and focus on retention.
Strengthen traditionally challenging topics
Last Minute Optics: A Concise Review of Optics, Refraction, and Contact Lenses
By David G. Hunter, MD, PhD, and Constance E. West, MD
This popular optics review manual offers many practice problems with detailed answer explanations allowing you to test your knowledge and increase your understanding of optics. Additionally, Dr. Hunter’s four-part lecture accompanies the text and is available at lastminuteoptics.com. The geometric optics course (aao.org/course/geometric-optics) from the Academy also reviews basic principles for understanding optics of the eye, optical instruments and correction of ametropia.
Academy Pathology Atlas
Available at aao.org/resident-course/pathology-atlas, the Pathology Atlas offers virtual microscopy images of both ophthalmic disease and normal eye anatomy. Additionally, you can view images with annotations to help orient the novice resident ophthalmic pathologist. New content includes video learning and interactive cases.
Complete regular self-assessment
Questions, questions and more questions! It is important to use a question bank to become familiar with how the material above is presented on the exam.
BCSC Self-Assessment Program
In this Academy question bank, all questions are directly tied to the BCSC, and each answer includes references to relevant excerpts. The new spaced repetition mode will help you enhance knowledge retention and maximize your study time.
This question bank is written by recently board-certified ophthalmologists. It allows the user to compare their performance with that of other residents at their training level, which may prove helpful in identifying areas in need of improvement.
Share helpful study tools
Residents Section of ONE Network
The Residents section of the Academy’s Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE®) Network (aao.org/residents) is a one-stop shop for ophthalmology residents. It features the hugely popular OKAP and board review presentations, ophthalmic knowledge flashcards and PGY-1 and PGY-2 resources, plus hundreds of clinical and surgical videos, interactive cases and simulations.
Resident Knowledge Exchange
Launched in 2021, the Academy’s Resident Knowledge Exchange is an online platform to review and share study materials, such as helpful external resources, mnemonics, videos and flashcards.
Ophthalmology Journal Podcast
Keep on top of cutting-edge therapies and trials as the Ophthalmology® journal social media editors interview authors about their groundbreaking work. The Ophthalmology Journal Podcast takes you on a deep dive into the latest discoveries.
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Liane O. Dallalzadeh, MD,
is a resident physician at UCSD Shiley Eye Institute in La Jolla, CA.