Predictors for failing the American board of radiology core examination

Gary Horn, Stephen Herrmann, Irfan Masood, Clark R. Andersen, Quan Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Since the American Board of Radiology (ABR) instituted its new board certification pathway, our residency program has had more residents fail the core examination than was typical with the prior pathway. We performed a single-center retrospective study to evaluate predictors of ABR core examination failure. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data regarding U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) steps 1 and 2, ACR diagnostic radiology in-training examinations, the number of image interpretations, academic degree (doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy), status as an American or foreign medical graduate, and Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society status were gathered and evaluated through logistic regression and generalized additive logistic regression. Data were gathered for all residents who took the ABR core examination from 2013 to 2017. RESULTS: Six of 30 residents (20%) failed the ABR core examination on the first attempt. The ACR in-training examination scores for 1st- and 3rd-year residents were significantly related to ABR core examination failure (p = 0.027 and p = 0.035, respectively), with significant nonlinearity (p = 0.037 and p = 0.033, respectively). The suggested baseline percentile score was the 30th percentile for 1st-year residents and the 20th percentile for 3rd-year residents. USMLE step 1 and 2 scores were significantly related to ABR core examination failure (p = 0.041 and p = 0.043, respectively), without significant nonlinearity (p = 0.35 and p = 0.09, respectively). However, residents with scores of less than 220 on USMLE steps 1 and 2 seemed to be at risk. CONCLUSION: Low scores on USMLE steps 1 and 2 and 1st- and 3rd-year ACR in-training examinations were associated with ABR core examination failure. If validated more broadly, these cutoffs may serve as predictors of ABR core examination failure and may facilitate identification and remediation of at-risk residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-489
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • American Board of Radiology core examination
  • In-training examination
  • Resident education
  • U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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