Taking the new ABR remote exam? This ten-point checklist is for you.
Last updated: 04/21/21
Taking an exam from your room sounds straightforward, right? Well, hopefully. The American Board of Radiology (ABR) is moving its exams to remote format this cycle, including the Core Exam, Certifying Exam, and Interventional Radiology Exam. While you might know how to open a browser and answer multiple choice questions, making a checklist will help ensure that logistics don’t get in the way on exam day. The definitive guides to exam day are now released by the ABR, including: (1) Remote Exam Basics Guide and (2) Remote Core Exam Guide. We scoured this material from the ABR and gave them a call with clarifying questions to help you get a head start on forming your own checklist.
ABR Exam-Day Hotline: Call 520–519–2149 if your connection breaks during the exam. You’ll be entered into a queue when you call, but your time on the phone will be restored onto your exam.
ABR Remote Exam Checklist
- Select your exam room. Whether you’re taking the exam from home or the hospital, you’re required to be the only person in the room during the exam. Work in the room you’ve selected during 8am-5pm on a few days during the week and weekend, to make sure there aren’t strange issues with noise or temperature that you didn’t notice before. Note: Shared rooms are not allowed. If you’re booking a room or computer lab, make sure that nobody else is allowed to enter or disturb you during the full duration of your exam. If you feel the need to plan for an “Exam in Progress — Do Not Disturb” sign, you’re risking interruptions: choose a different room.
- Prepare your room to be video taped with a side-view webcam. Your built-in laptop webcam is not enough — as of 4/15/21, you’re now required to use a side-view webcam that’s compatible with the ports on your computer. For example, this webcam works with with this webcam desk mount and this USB port extension. If you have more recent Mac or Windows computer, you probably have USB-C, which means you should get a USB-to-USB-C adaptor. At the beginning of your exam, and possibly intermittently during the exam, you’ll be asked to perform a 360° room scan by lifting and rotating your webcam to capture the entire room. During the exam, you’ll be continuously monitored by your webcam. Whether in front of your computer or behind, make sure that any prohibited items are removed from the room before exam day. Forbidden items include: cell phone, books, notes, watch, other people in the room, recording devices other than your exam webcam, calculator, headset.
- Get your 8.5" x 11" whiteboard ready. The ABR has officially approved this option. Select an 8.5" x 11" dry erase whiteboard that works for you. Try fine tip markers so that you can write clearly as needed, and add an eraser. Residents have reported the physical whiteboard is useful. You will not be allowed to use scrap paper. The virtual whiteboard they provide might be glitchy (just a text field you’re allowed to type into) — the physical whiteboard won’t accidentally delete your notes. Practice with your whiteboard and markers well ahead of time.
- Bring your identification. You’ll present your ID to the webcam. The ABR requires one of these forms of ID: drivers license, state-issued ID card, valid passport or passport card. Military ID is not acceptable.
5. Run the Proctorio practice exam on your exam-day computer. Here are the instructions to get started. Running the practice exam on your game-day computer is absolutely essential because it serves as a technical check of your hardware and software. Either laptops or desktops are fine, but iPads are not allowed. The minimum screen is 13" with 1080p resolution. Your computer needs microphone and speakers. Check your screen resolution. Make sure that you can view all of the images in the ABR Monitor Performance Self-Check.
6. Get a backup computer that has equal specs. This is your big day. If your computer freezes up or calls it quits, you don’t want that to affect you one bit. Figure out how to borrow a backup computer for exam day without shelling out a fortune for another computer. Make sure the backup computer actually works, and also has a webcam and microphone; otherwise it’s useless.
7. Install Google Chrome and the Proctorio Chrome Extension. The ABR requires that you use the latest version of Google Chrome. If you already have Google Chrome installed, check that you have the latest version. After that, install the Proctorio Chrome Extension, which will be used to monitor you during the exam.
8. Run an internet speed test on your computers, from inside your study room. Use the Google speed test. Make sure your download speed is at least 5Mbps, and your upload speed is at least 1 Mbps. As an added level of comfort, make sure you’re comfortably streaming video, viewing images on Radiopaedia, or taking a Zoom call. You’ll want to test your exam-day computer in your exam-day test room, because WiFi is strongly location dependent. If you know your internet connection is spotty, either get a second backup internet service provider for the month, or rethink your location.
9. Disable your ad blocker for the exam. Ad blockers like the outstanding UBlock Origin extension for Chrome are great for radiology because they remove distracting banner ads on reference sites, but they might interfere with the code implemented by the ABR.
10. Bring caffeine and a snack. The ABR has officially approved drinks and snacks for the remote exam. Core Physics Review instructor Ram Srinivasan recommends this combination to all of his residents prepping for the Core Exam to help keep their focus throughout the exam. Srinivasan himself used diet Coke from a twist-top bottle and trail mix during all three of his ABR exams — Core, Certifying, and NeuroCAQ.
— Orbit Staff