ABR Core Exam — two new changes every radiology resident needs to know

ABR website overhaul is more than skin deep

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This year, the ABR overhauled their website including details on the Core Exam .

If you’re a radiology resident taking the Core Exam this coming June 2018, you may have noticed the ABR recently gave its website a total makeover. Turns out those changes were more than skin deep. Since the exam is less than two weeks away, we reached out to the ABR on behalf of radiology residents everywhere to get some clarity.

Reality Check: We interviewed the ABR to revise and verify details provided in this article. Nevertheless, this article is not an official statement from the ABR.

Change #1: New Grading Scheme for the Core

For the first time, Physics will be the only section you’ll need to pass individually. To pass the exam, you’ll need to:

  1. Pass the total score threshold. This sums across all 18 subject categories.
  2. Pass Physics. This subject is now the only section you’ll need to pass individually.

On previous administrations, passing the Core Exam required us to pass a total score threshold, and to pass all sections individually. It was possible to condition up to 5 sections as an alternative to failing the exam.

This year, the only section you’ll need to pass individually is Physics. In addition, your performance across all sections will be aggregated and compared to a total score threshold. This means that you can now technically underperform on individual sections like ultrasound, and still pass the total score that aggregates across categories. If you also pass Physics, then you’ll pass the Core Exam.

Note that Physics is a separate section from Quality & Safety. The Quality & Safety category includes the Non-interpretive Skills (NIS) packet released by the ABR.

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Orbit is the easiest way for radiologists to earn, track, and submit all of their required CME.

Change #2: Variable Question Count

Previously, the ABR reported exact #’s of questions for each of the 18 categories of organ system and modality represented on the exam. For example, by tallying these numbers, it was possible to calculate that Physics and Quality & Safety (including NIS) totaled roughly 33% of questions on the exam.

Currently, those detailed specifications have been removed. When asked for comment, the ABR noted that exams have actually always varied from year to year in terms of exact question count, so the previously noted exact #’s of questions was only an approximation of question counts. As a result, they took down the old question breakdown entirely.

Bottom Line

If you’re heading into the Core Exam in two weeks, details about grading and question count are minutia. Don’t perseverate on this stuff. In these last two weeks, it’s time to refresh your synapses by using MCQs to cycle across the various sections. If you haven’t yet downloaded The Formula Sheet, be sure to check that out for the Physics section.

— Orbit Staff

Ram Srinivasan MD PhD is a practicing neuroradiologist and educator in Palo Alto, California. He serves as Course Director at Core Physics Review, and leads Orbit Radiology to simplify CME+SAM/SA-CME for radiologists with brutal shifts.

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