IC DR Certifying Exam

Initial Certification

Initial Certification >Diagnostic Radiology > Certifying Exam


Diagnostic Radiology

Certifying Examination

Studying for the Certifying Exam

Certifying Exam Prerequisites for Eligibility

Certifying Exam Registration

Information about the ABR's Certifying Examination

The computer-based Certifying Exam can be taken 12 months after completion of diagnostic radiology residency. The Core Exam must be passed before a candidate is eligible to take the Certifying Exam.

The Certifying Exam is an image-rich, computer-based exam administered in two ABR exam centers: the Chicago Exam Center near O’Hare Airport and the Tucson Exam Center at the board office. Please see the DR Exam Dates page for information on the Certifying Exam schedule.

The examination emphasizes synthesis of information, differential diagnosis, and patient management. Aspects of basic sciences that are important in imaging are included on the examination. The examination is five hours long and will be offered twice yearly. It consists of four modules, which are described below.

One required module:

  • Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology: basic knowledge that every radiologist should know (for example, recognizing child abuse, pneumothorax, shock bowel, and subdural hematoma). To download the Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology Study Guide, please click here.

The exam also includes three modules in clinical practice areas selected by the individual, based on training, experience, and practice emphasis (one, two, or three different practice areas may be selected). The clini­cal practice areas are general radiology, breast, cardiac, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, nuclear, pediatric, thoracic, ultrasound, genitourinary, and vascular and interventional radiology. All clinical categories have modules with two levels of difficulties - 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. 

All clinical category modules will contain Noninterpretive Skills content.

  • Noninterpretive Skills (NIS): general topics of importance to the practice of radiology, such as recognition and managment of contrast reactions, error prevention, communication skills, professionalism, ethics, and other aspects of practice.

    A syllabus, Noninterpretive Skills Domain Specification and Resource Guide, is available. This syllabus provides detailed content that the examinees are expected to know to answer the Noninterpretive Skills (NIS) questions. All material that will be included in the NIS module is included in the syllabus. Please note that since this is a new and evolving area, the content of the Noninterpretive Skills module may change in the future. If changes are made to this exam module, the syllabus will be updated accordingly. To download the syllabus, please click here.

Study Guides

Breast Neuroradiology
Cardiac Nuclear
Gastrointestinal Pediatric
General Radiology Thoracic
Genitourinary Ultrasound
Musculoskeletal Vascular/Interventional


Each of the clinical practice areas includes some items relevant to pediatric radiology and physics. The second portion of the Radioisotope Safety Exam (RISE) is integrated into the Certifying Exam. The RISE elements on the Certifying Exam will be devoted to clinically-oriented practice scenarios which emphasize evaluation of practical knowledge of radioisotope safety and handling, as well as regulatory compliance. For more details, please refer to the RISE Blueprint or the RISE portion of the Core Exam Study Guide.

The exam is scored as pass or fail, and feedback will be provided to examinees. The two required mod­ules and the elective modules must all be passed as a group. If the result is “fail,” the entire exam must be retaken.

After the Certifying Exam has been passed, the RISE examination will be scored based on the RISE content taken in the Core and Certifying exams. This result will not have any impact on the pass result for the Certifying Examination.

Further information is available here: 

Certifying Exam FAQs
Transition to Certifying Exam (for those whose most recent examination was the Oral Exam)