Initial Certification for Interventional Radiology

Preparing for the Qualifying (Core) Exam

Last verified on January 16, 2024

The Qualifying (Core) Exam is based on Critical Concepts that a candidate is expected to know at the end of the third year of DR and IR/DR training. These Critical Concepts are supplemented by a Blueprint and Overview for each domain. The Domain Blueprint provides an estimated percentage of specific content for each practice domain for each administration of the exam, and the Domain Overview presents in more detail the scope of material that might be found on the exam.

ABR exams are developed by volunteer content experts from a wide range of practice settings. It is important for candidates to understand that the preparation resources offered on the ABR website are informational. This exam is image rich. It emphasizes image interpretation, which is best learned through clinical experience supplemented by in-depth reading to improve the understanding of the range of presentation of any disease. Each candidate should decide what materials to use to prepare for our exams with ABR information as guidance. Candidates who use practice tests and/or other review materials developed by other organizations or commercial entities should not expect an ABR exam to align with these materials regarding scope, format, or difficulty.

Candidates are encouraged to learn about the following ABR processes early in the course of exam preparation:

Qualifying (Core) Exam Preparation Resources

Practice domain documents are available and include:
Domain Critical Concepts

The Domain Critical Concepts section specifies the skills and knowledge that a candidate is expected to know at the end of the third year of training and that are, therefore, likely to be assessed on this exam. It is essential that candidates understand that they are responsible for all content listed in the Domain Overview for each practice domain as well as the materials in the Noninterpretive Skills (NIS) and Physics study guides.

Domain Blueprint

The Domain Blueprint section provides a detailed list of the subspecialty category topics and the approximate percentage distribution tested within each category.

Domain Overview

The Domain Overview section presents in detail the scope of material that might be found on the exam. This comprehensive listing is provided by the ABR not as a study guide, but as a reference for the potential breadth and level of detail of ABR exam items.

Breast Imaging Neuroradiology
Cardiovascular Imaging Nuclear Radiology
Gastrointestinal Imaging Pediatric Radiology
Genitourinary Imaging RISC
Interventional Radiology Thoracic Imaging
Musculoskeletal Radiology Ultrasound

For a downloadable pdf of all domains, please click here.


Supplemental Preparation Materials in Physics and Noninterpretive Skills

Given that radiology quality and safety is a broad subject, the ABR has produced a syllabus of the relevant knowledge that candidates eligible to take the Qualifying (Core) Exam are expected to know. For downloadable pdfs of the NIS and Physics study guides, click on the following links:

Noninterpretive Skills (NIS) Study Guide

Physics Study Guide


Exam Readiness Check and Sample Questions

Because the Qualifying (Core) Exam is delivered remotely at the candidate’s selected location, it is recommended that the candidate become familiar with the types of exam questions that might be encountered on the computer-based exam as well as exam navigation, while also performing a technical verification prior to taking the exam. The Exam Readiness Check and Sample Questions are only available to candidates who are currently registered for an upcoming computer-based exam and can be accessed on the Cognitive Expertise page in myABR. Please note that this is not a test to assess your knowledge but rather to provide examples of the types of questions candidates are likely to encounter on the Qualifying (Core) Exam.