Initial Certification for Diagnostic Radiology


Last verified on July 14, 2023

When and where is the Certifying Exam administered?

The Certifying Exam is administered remotely once each year. Please see the DR Calendar for information on the Certifying Exam schedule.  

How do I select content for the Certifying Exam?

You will select three clinical practice modules in which to be examined, based on your training experience, interest, and practice pattern. These areas include breast, cardiac, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, nuclear, pediatric, thoracic, ultrasound, genitourinary, vascular/interventional, and general 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 relevant) module.

Why do some exam questions not include age and sex in the clinical history?

Age and sex are excluded from exam questions for which the information is not needed to understand the clinical scenario and answer the question. Removing this nonrelevant data benefits the examinee not only by increasing focus on the concept being tested but also by improving exam platform navigation efficiency.

How is the Certifying Exam scored?

The ABR uses criterion-referenced scoring on all its computer-based exams. To learn more about this method and how it differs from norm-referenced scoring, please visit our Exam Scoring Model page. The exam is scored as pass or fail, and you will be provided with feedback. The required module and the elective modules are all scored together. If the overall result is “fail,” the entire exam must be retaken. The passing standard is determined by committees made up of individuals who did not participate in question writing.

What does “noninterpretive skills” mean?

This refers to general topics of importance to the practice of radiology, including, but not limited to general topics of importance to the practice of radiology, such as recognition and management of contrast reactions, error prevention, communication skills, professionalism, and quality principles. Noninterpretive skills was previously a stand-alone module but is now incorporated into the Essentials module. A syllabus, Noninterpretive Skills Study Guide, is available.

Does the ABR diagnostic radiology certificate still indicate whether I’m AU-eligible?

The ABR will discontinue including AU-E designations on certificates issued after December 31, 2023. Candidates in all disciplines who receive initial board certification before that date and meet other criteria, such as passing the Radioisotope Safety Content (RISC) for DR and IR/DR, will receive AU-E on their certificates. For more information, click here.

How long do I have to pass the Certifying Exam?

You will have six years from the end of your training to successfully complete the initial certification process (pass both the Qualifying [Core] and Certifying exams) and describe yourself as “board eligible.” After that, you must take an additional year of training in a department with ACGME or RCPSC (Canadian) accreditation before re-entering the certification process.
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