Initial Certification for Diagnostic Radiology

Qualifying (Core) Exam

Last verified on April 26, 2022

The Qualifying (Core) Exam is designed to evaluate a candidate’s core fund of knowledge and clinical judgment across practice domains of diagnostic radiology and integrated interventional radiology/diagnostic radiology. (The practice domains were formerly referred to as subspecialty clinical categories and modalities.) The exam tests the candidate’s understanding of anatomy, pathophysiology, diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, and physics concepts important for the practice of diagnostic radiology.

The practice domains evaluated in this exam are: breast imaging, cardiovascular imaging, computed tomography (CT), gastrointestinal (GI) imaging, genitourinary (GU) imaging, interventional radiology, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, musculoskeletal (MSK) radiology, neuroradiology, noninterpretive skills (NIS), nuclear radiology, pediatric radiology, physics, radiography/fluoroscopy, thoracic radiology, and ultrasound (US). In addition, a portion of the Radioisotope Safety Content (RISC) is included within the Qualifying (Core) Exam.


More Information

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