Background: Program directors use US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) scores as criteria for ranking applicants. First-time pass rates of the American Board of Surgery (ABS) Qualifying (QE) and Certifying (CE) Examinations have become important measures of residency program quality. USMLE Step 1 will become pass/fail in 2022. Study design: American Board of Surgery QE and CE success rates were assessed considering multiple characteristics of highly ranked (top 20) applicants to 22 general surgery programs in 2011. Chi-square, t-test, Wilcoxon Rank sum, linear and logistic regression were used, as appropriate. Results: The QE and CE first attempt pass rates were 96% (235/244) and 86% (190/221), respectively. QE/CE success was not significantly associated with sex, race, research experience, or publications. Alpha Omega Alpha (AΩA) status was associated with success on the index CE (98% vs 83%; p = 0.008). Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) scores of surgeons who passed QE on their first attempt were higher than scores of those who failed (Step 1: 233 vs 218; p = 0.016); (Step 2CK: 244 vs 228, p = 0.009). For every 10-point increase in Step 1 and 2CK scores, the odds of passing CE on the first attempt increased 1.5 times (95% CI 1.12, 2.0; p = 0.006) and 1.5 times (95% CI 1.11, 2.02, p = 0.008), respectively. For every 10-point increase in Steps 1 and 2CK scores, the odds of passing the QE on the first attempt increased 1.85 times (95% CI 1.11, 3.09; p = 0.018) and 1.86 times (95% CI 1.14, 3.06, p = 0.013), respectively. Conclusions: USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK examination scores correlate with American Board of Surgery QE and CE performance and success. The USMLE decision to transition Step 1 to a pass/fail examination will require program directors to identify other factors that predict ABS performance for ranking applicants.