American Board of Radiology (ABR) exam preparation


One of the biggest sources of anxiety for physicians in training is preparing for the constant barrage of exams required to become a board certified radiologist.

A subset of materials on this site are specifically tailored to provide dedicated preparation for these exams. Topics that may be most relevant to the ABR radiology core exam, the subsequent certifying exam, or neuroradiology CAQ are tagged as board review. In this way, high yield points are emphasized throughout the posts. They can all be viewed here:

 

Board review posts

 

However, there is also some value to considering an individualized plan to each exam, as they are slightly different. Some of the nuances of each exam are described below:

Bridge

1) ABR core exam

The ABR core exam is the first hurdle to radiology certification. It is taken in the PGY-4, or 3rd year of dedicated radiology training, and covers all areas of radiology. Neuroradiology is a significant portion of radiology practice and an important topic for the test. However, it is also heavily covered in the scope of radiology practice and residents may be well prepared from call and daily work assignments.

Regardless, detailed preparation is suggested and can minimize the risk of failure. Some believe that this is the most detail oriented exam (i.e. nitpicky), so you definitely need to have mastery of the details.

 

ABR core exam plan

 2) ABR certifying exam

The ABR certifying exam is taken 15 months after residency training is complete. After this examination, the trainee is given a full diagnostic radiology certificate which is good for 10 years pursuant to maintenance of certification efforts.

The exam is a little bit different than the core exam. It consists of 5 sections:

  • general radiology
  • non interpretive skills
  • 3 subspecialty areas of the trainees choice

Trainees who have done a significant amount of neuroradiology either through their residency or dedicated fellowship may consider 1 or more neuroradiology sections. Careful preparation is again suggested.

 

ABR certifying exam plan

 

 3) Neuroradiology CAQ

The most painful hurdle of all is the last and most expensive, the ABR neuroradiology certificate of added qualification exam. It requires registration 6 months in advance, is only offered once per year in Chicago or Tuscon, and costs > $3,200! You need a letter from both your neuroradiology fellowship and your current practice saying that you practice a significant amount of neuroradiology.

Preparing for this test is ostensibly the hardest because you already know a significant amount of neuroradiology. Just enough to understand how bad those question are, you might say. Nevertheless, some review might be worthwhile, but it should be carefully targeted.

 

Neuroradiology CAQ exam plan