The ABR administers Core Exams to candidates in the 36th month of diagnostic radiology training as a way to test knowledge and comprehension of anatomy, pathophysiology, physics, and other concepts important for certification in diagnostic radiology. Exams are administered twice a year, in June and November.
Radiology residents have a variety of test-prep resources at their disposal to study for the Core Exam, including books and videos, question banks, conference lectures, and smartphone apps. Residency program directors are keenly interested in the most effective strategies to help their residents pass the exams.
Therefore, a research team led by Dr. Henry Chen from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center decided to study which resources residents used to prepare for the Core Exam and how their study habits may have affected their performance. The researchers sent a survey to about 1,200 radiology residents who took the test and received responses from 145.
Preliminary results presented at ARRS 2019 indicate that survey respondents who passed the Core Exam and got a higher overall score used a greater number of test-prep resources, had more time off to study, and had higher U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 scores (240 versus 221) compared with residents who scored lower or failed. Those who passed the exam also perceived the value of test-prep resources as higher than those who failed.
Which resources were most commonly cited for test prep? The Crack the Core Exam series was the most commonly mentioned resource among books and videos; among question banks, survey respondents mentioned Radprimer, Qevlar, and BoardVitals. Other resources mentioned included Warhammer, as well as Radiology Physics 300 and Radiology Core smartphone question apps.
Strategies that did not appear to affect pass rates included the number of hours per week of resident conference lectures attended and the types of lectures (didactic versus case based). Third-year in-service training scores also did not appear to correlate with passage rates.
"Findings may suggest that a better understanding is needed from residency programs on best materials used for exam preparation," Chen et al concluded.
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