Initial Certification for Diagnostic Radiology


Last verified on January 24, 2023

What categories are included in the Qualifying (Core) Exam?

The categories 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, the Radioisotope Safety Content (RISC) is included within the Qualifying (Core) Exam.

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

Several resources can be found here on the ABR website.

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 do I request exam or nursing accommodations?

The ABR complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and makes reasonable accommodations in exam procedures for individuals with documented disabilities. Additionally, the ABR supports nursing and expectant mothers and makes accommodations in exam procedures for individuals making a request. For more details, visit

What is the cancellation policy?

Candidates who register for an exam and cancel or do not show for the exam will have any paid exam fees applied to their next eligible exam.

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.

How is the Qualifying (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. To learn more about this method and how it differs from norm-referenced scoring, please visit our Exam Scoring Model page. 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 does not meet or exceed the passing standard when all categories are scored together, the candidate will have failed the exam and must repeat the entire exam.

How and when will I receive my results?

Results for the Qualifying (Core) Exam are posted in your password-protected myABR account approximately one month after the last day of the exam administration. You will receive an email when your exam results have been posted.

What happens if I fail the Qualifying (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 Qualifying (Core) 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). 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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