The ABR Discusses the New Oral Boards

Here is the video for the American Board of Radiology’s town hall discussion about the new oral boards, which are coming to a computer near you in 2028:

Some highlights:

  1. The ABR would like you to know that discussions about revamping the Certifying Exam started internally and “did not arise from an assumption that there was something wrong with the Certifying Exam.” (There is.) They did acknowledge that “nuance is lacking in the current exam.”
  2. Any interesting formats such as simulation-based assessments weren’t possible due to “practical constraints.”
  3. With regard to data about the effectiveness of either the old oral boards format or the current exams, Executive Director Dr. Wagner said: “We have no data that it DOES work.” He went on to say that proving the ABR exams have an impact “would be a difficult experiment to run.”
  4. The initial timing will be during the second half of fellowships (first offered in 2028), but while the format is set, the timing would “not be hard to change” in the future if needed.
  5. They will send out a “mock session” in the next few weeks apparently. I hope they also intend on releasing sample cases with sample scoring rubrics as well.
  6. When asked about exam preparation/support from fellowships, Dr. Wagner said: “The ABR doesn’t really have a position on that, as to how a candidate should prepare.”
  7. In the following discussion, the implication was that likely most preparation would take place during the fourth year of residency. It was not specified as to why it should be deep into fellowship (the phrase “the least bad choice” was used.) When asked why not just offer the Core and Certifying exams simultaneously or back to back, the ABR’s answer was that they were not interested in changing the need to pass the Core exam first in order to take the Certifying Exam, and the Core Exam takes time to grade. (But, yes, we could, again, in principle, just have written and oral exams like we used to.)
  8. There will be no “hardcore” physics or non-interpretive skills.
  9. The plan is for 7 25-min sessions with 10 min breaks between each. There will be an extra session (“recovery block”) at the end in order to deal with internet failures during the exam day.
  10. The ABR currently spends more than $200 per item to develop its multiple-choice question collection. This exam won’t cost more, because no one will travel, the number of items is far smaller, and the judges are volunteering. In reality, this exam will be much cheaper. But also: no, they won’t be dropping fees.

Want more? Here is my initial discussion of the coming change.

Leave a Reply