Initial Certification for Diagnostic Radiology

Core Exam

Last verified on September 21, 2020
The exam tests knowledge and comprehension of anatomy, pathophysiology, all aspects of diagnostic radiology, and physics concepts important for diagnostic radiology.

Exam Categories

Eighteen categories are included on the exam:
Breast Imaging Thoracic
Cardiac Imaging Urinary
Gastrointestinal Imaging Vascular
Interventional Radiology Computed Tomography
Musculoskeletal Magnetic Resonance
Neuroradiology Radiography/Fluoroscopy
Nuclear Radiology Ultrasound
Pediatric Radiology Physics
Reproductive/Endocrinology Noninterpretive Skills
Study guides for these categories may be found here.

More Information

In addition, a portion of the Radioisotope Safety Exam (RISE), one of the requirements for Authorized User (AU) eligibility status, is included within the Core Exam. Physics questions are integrated into each category, so no separate physics exam will be administered. However, performance on the entire set of physics items will be evaluated as a component in scoring the exam. For more information, please refer to the Scoring and Results page.
Core Exams are administered twice yearly, typically in June and November. Please refer to the Exam Dates and Locations page for upcoming exam dates. A candidate is eligible to take the Core Exam in the 36th month of diagnostic radiology training. Residents who take the exam prior to their 36th month of training are often at a disadvantage because they have not had enough exposure to all clinical rotations covered in the exam. Fail rates have been significantly higher for candidates who have taken the exam early. The ABR will allow residents who are in or beyond their 32nd month of DR training to take the exam if their program director attests the resident is believed to have sufficient knowledge and training, and the candidate attests that he or she understands the potential consequences of taking the exam early. For more information, contact the ABR at or call (520) 790-2900.

Exam Breakdown and Timing

The Core Exam is a computer-based exam that is taken over three days.
For more details visit the Exam Breakdown and Timing page.