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American Board of Radiology (ABR)

Radiology residents take the ABR Core exam at the end of their third year. If you pass this exam you may take the certifying exam 15 months after you finish residency. Here are the results for our residents:

Class of 2018:
All seven residents who took the Core exam in June 2017 passed on their first attempt. They can first take their Certifying exam in the fall of 2019.
Class of 2017: 
All six residents who took the Core exam in June 2016 passed on their first attempt. They can first take their Certifying exam in the fall of 2018.
Class of 2016: 
All six residents who took the Core exam in June 2015 passed on their first attempt. They can first take their Certifying exam this fall (2017).
Class of 2015: 
All eight residents passed the 2014 Core exam on their first attempt. They all passed the certifying exam on their first attempt.
Class of 2014: 
All six residents passed the (first) 2013 Core exam on their first attempt. They all passed the certifying exam on their first attempt.

The ABR has released pass rate statistics for the Core Exam. The national pass rate for first time takers for 2016, 91%, for 2015, 87%, for 2014, 91%, and for 2013 was 87% The last time the ABR reported 5-year cumulative results for Radiology Programs (2012), we ranked in the top quintile (or about the top 38 programs in the country, (see below for more details.) 

Just as we consider USMLE scores in the context of the total applicant, applicants should consider our pass rate as one of many factors (research opportunities, plans for fourth year electives/mini-fellowships, and preparation for private practice or fellowship) when determining which program is the "best fit". The ABR was concerned that pass rate rankings would be considered an ABR endorsement of a program. This is not the case. It should be stressed that the mission of the ABR is: "To certify that our diplomates demonstrate the requisite knowledge, skill, and understanding of their disciplines to the benefit of patients."  

The ABR stopped issuing lifetime board certificates after 2000. Graduates from 2001 and later have "time limited certificates" and must participate in the Maintenence Of Certification (MOC) process. One can easily check the status of anyones ABR status on the ABR website http://www.theabr.org/

A note about ABR Program rankings: 

The ABR used to assign "rankings" based solely on the oral board 5 year pass rate. Therefore, if 36 programs (the actual number for 2005-2009) had a 100% pass rate, they would be tied for the number 1 ranking. Unlike other ranking systems, the ABR used to assigned the next lower pass rate a number 2 ranking (say for example 36 programs tied for first place with a 100% pass rate and the next highest passing percentage was 98%. That program would be ranked #2 as opposed to number 37 as one might expect). Concerned that students would consider these "rankings" an official endorsement, the ABR switched to the quintile system when reporting the 2006-2010 results. The 5th quintile now includes the programs with the highest pass rates. The last time this was reported (2012 for the 5 year period 2008-2012), our 100% 5-year pass rate put us in the fifth (top) quintile. Since there are about 192 programs in the country, we are tied with about 38 other programs in the country for the top ranking. 

The ABR announced (2/17/15) that their next cumulative report would be forthcoming (not available as of May 2017) and would only include the new exam format. The ACGME is proposing a 3 year look back metric for the Core exam.

Some personal notes on the ABR as experienced by Dr. Kagetsu:

I took the oral boards in Louisville the first time when MR cases counted, in 1988. In 1987 there were MR cases on the boards but they did not affect whether you passed or not. (I passed.) 

I thought 1988 was the last time I would go to Louisville, however the ABR came up with Certificates of Additional Qualification (CAQ). I was in the first group off neuroradiologists to take the Neuroradiology CAQ oral exam in Louisville in 1995. (Dr. Juan Tavares, a founding father of Neuroradiology was in my section of examinees) (I passed. I'm pretty sure that Dr. Tavares passed as well.) 

In 2016, the ABR announced that they were doing away with 10 year recertification exams. This happened a little too late for me. I was in the last group in Chicago that had to take a recert exam in October 2016. (I passed that one as well.) 

The ABR will be replacing recertification exams with Ongoing Longitudinal Assessment (OLA). This is being used by other subspecialties. (I am on the team preparing questions for this exam)