Initial Certification for Diagnostic Radiology

Certifying Exam

Last verified on November 7, 2023
The computer-based Certifying Exam can be taken approximately 15 months after completion of diagnostic radiology residency. The Qualifying (Core) Exam must be passed before a candidate is eligible to take the Certifying Exam.
The Certifying Exam is an image-rich, computer-based exam. Beginning in 2021, the Certifying Exam will be administered remotely. Please see the DR Calendar for information on the Certifying Exam schedule.

Exam Content

The exam emphasizes synthesis of information, differential diagnosis, and patient management. Aspects of basic sciences that are important in imaging are included on the exam. The exam is seven and a half hours long and consists of four modules, which are described below.

Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology

Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology is a required module that includes basic knowledge every radiologist should know (for example, recognizing child abuse, pneumothorax, shock bowel, and subdural hematoma).
The Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology module will contain Noninterpretive skills (NIS) content: general topics of importance to the practice of radiology, such as recognition and management of contrast reactions, error prevention, communication skills, professionalism, ethics, and other aspects of practice.  

Clinical Practice Modules

The other three modules are in clinical practice areas selected by the individual, based on training, experience, and practice emphasis (one, two, or three different practice areas may be selected). The clinical practice areas are general radiology, breast, cardiac, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, nuclear, pediatric, thoracic, ultrasound, genitourinary, and vascular and interventional radiology.
All clinical categories have modules with two levels of difficulty – fundamental and advanced. If more than one module is taken in a given category, content will be at the advanced level on the second (and third, if applicable) module.
Each of the clinical practice areas also includes some items relevant to pediatric radiology and physics. In addition, the second portion of the Radioisotope Safety Content (RISC) is integrated into the Certifying Exam. The RISC elements on the Certifying Exam will be devoted to clinically oriented practice scenarios, which emphasize evaluation of practical knowledge of radioisotope safety and handling, as well as regulatory compliance. For more details, please refer to the RISC Domain Document. Also see the RISC FAQs.

Exam Breakdown and Timing

The Certifying Exam is a one-day computer-based exam consisting of 298 questions.
For more details visit the Exam Breakdown and Timing page.