Initial Certification for Diagnostic Radiology


Last verified on August 7, 2019

When is the Core Exam administered?

Exams are given twice yearly at the ABR's Tucson and Chicago Exam Centers.

Why isn’t the Core Exam offered at a local testing center?

Currently, local testing centers are unable to handle the modular exam content and case structure. In addition, commercial vendors do not calibrate monitors, and the room lighting cannot be controlled.

What categories are included in the Core Exam?

The 18 categories are breast, cardiac, gastrointestinal, interventional, musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, nuclear, pediatric, reproductive/endocrinology, thoracic, urinary, vascular, computed tomography, magnetic resonance, radiography/fluoroscopy, ultrasound, physics, and safety. In addition, the Radioisotope Safety Exam (RISE), one of the requirements for Authorized User (AU) eligibility status, is included within the Core Exam.

How can I know what to study to prepare for this exam?

Several resources can be found here on the ABR website.

Will my report time be the same on both days?

Yes, your report time will be the same on both days of the exam. Please note your exam clock does not begin until you log in at your computer at the Exam Center.

Can I bring food and/or beverages, and what will the ABR provide?

The ABR will provide bottled water; no food will be provided. Each examinee may bring his or her choice of food and beverages for storage in the locker in a clear (transparent) plastic bag. This bag should contain only the food and drink that you will want during the exam. Except for bottled water, food and beverages must be consumed in the Exam Center lobby, outside the actual exam room. The Exam Center does not have vending machines. Open containers (coffee cups, energy drink/soda cans) CANNOT be stored in the locker at the Exam Center.
Please keep in mind that the food should:
  • fit in a gallon-sized, transparent, and sealable plastic bag,
  • be non-aromatic
  • be consumable without refrigeration or heating, and
  • be stored in non-spillable containers

Where can I store my belongings?

Lockers are provided at the ABR’s Chicago and Tucson Exam Centers. Cell phones, pagers, watches (including analog) or other electronic devices, all bags, and notes MUST be checked in with ABR staff and MAY NOT be stored in a locker (in Chicago, they will be stored at the hotel). If you do not wish to check these items with ABR staff, please leave them in your hotel room. You MAY NOT store open containers with liquid in the Exam Center lockers. This includes, but is not limited to, coffee cups, soda cans, and energy drinks. The size of each locker is 12”×12”×18”, and each has a key that candidates will keep during the exam. NOTE: There is a designated place to check larger bags where you initially report for the exam (Hilton Rosemont Hotel in Chicago and Exam Center in Tucson).

What can I take into the exam with me?

After you store your personal belongings in your locker, you may take bottled water into the Exam Center. Remember that all other items must be stored in your locker. During the breaks in your exam, you will be able to retrieve your food and beverages, but no other items in your locker may be accessed.

How much break time will I have?

You will be provided with 30 minutes of break time each exam day. Break time is separate from your exam time and is displayed using an exam break timer, which can be viewed in the upper right-hand corner of the exam interface. Those needing more break time will have it subtracted from their exam time.

How do I request ADA Accommodations?

The ABR supports the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and makes reasonable accommodations in exam procedures for individuals with documented disabilities. Please submit the required application and documentation no later than 90 days prior to the exam date. For more details, visit

How do I request Nursing Mother Accommodations?

Please send your request to

What is the cancellation policy?

If you register and cancel 30 days or more prior to the exam date, any exam fees paid will be applied to your next eligible exam. If you register for an exam and cancel fewer than 30 days prior to the exam or do not show for the exam appointment, you forfeit any fees paid.

How is physics tested on this exam?

No separate physics module is included in this exam. Relevant physics questions are included in each category, and many are image based. However, physics is scored as a separate category and must be passed in order to pass the exam.

How is the Core Exam scored?

All ABR exam scoring is criterion referenced, meaning that a passing standard is established in advance of the exam. The exam is not graded on a curve, and there is no set percentage of failures. If a candidate meets or exceeds the passing standard when all categories are scored together, then the candidate will have passed the exam. If a candidate meets or exceeds the passing standard when all categories are scored together, but fails the physics category, then he or she will have conditioned the exam and must repeat the physics category. If a candidate does not meet or exceed the passing standard when all categories are scored together, including physics, then he or she will have failed the exam and must repeat the entire exam.

How and when will I receive my results?

Results for the Core Exam are posted in your password-protected myABR account approximately 8 to 10 weeks after the exam. You will receive an email when your exam results have been posted.

What happens if I fail the Core Exam? When can I retake it?

Opportunities to retake the exam are available twice a year.

How long do I have to pass the Core Exam?

You will have six years from the end of your training to successfully complete the initial certification process (pass both the Core and Certifying exams). This is the "board eligible" period. 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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