April 07, 2020

CORE Exam Delay: The Impact on Study Strategies

Natasha Monga, MD, is a radiology resident at Case Western Reserve University, MetroHealth Medical Center. 

The delay of the diagnostic radiology CORE exam to November has led to a wide range of reactions from third-year radiology residents around the country. While the ABR’s decision to delay the examination was made from necessity, the reaction from third-year residents has been a combination of relief, frustration, and uncertainty on how to prepare with this new timeline. Seven months is a long time to retain associations, formulas, and radioisotope half-lives. Yet this extended timetable may allow for more extensive preparation — knowing the increase in failure rate each year since 2017. How do we balance the potential of burnout while still maintaining a study plan?

The truth of the matter is that it’s hard to focus amidst the current healthcare crisis and the uncertainty of the upcoming academic year. Some have become providers on in-patient wards and ICUs, while others are on rotating teams staffing in-house reading rooms. Many are anxious about the 2020–2021 academic schedule, with hopes of being scheduled on less intensive rotations prior to the exam. Our Early Specialization in Interventional Radiology colleagues have the added potential stress of demanding ICU rotations and frequent call commitments in the months leading up to the exam. With so many variables at play, residents are working to devise study plans. With the help of third-year radiology residents around the country, I’ve gathered some strategies that residents are using to stay focused and details on question bank extensions.

  • With fewer cases in the reading room, do a few question-bank questions with downtime. Try resetting an old question bank or repeating flagged/missed questions.
  • Take advantage of the plethora of new virtual educational content. Commit to watching 1–2 videos per day.
  • Listen to a radiology review podcast while exploring your newfound passion for baking.
  • Create a document or flashcards with numbers and equations that are easy to forget and can be reviewed leading up to the exam.
  • Read and re-read the Non-Interpretive Skills document.
  • If you were registered for a review course, you may be able to re-watch recorded lectures through November.
  • Take advantage of question-bank extension offers. If finances allow, purchase another question bank you may not otherwise have completed. Question-bank extensions include:

o QEVLAR: Free subscription extension through September.
o Board Vitals: Free subscription extension for the same length of time it was purchased.
o Titan: For non-auto renewal subscription, five-month extension beginning May 15 for $150. For auto-renewal subscriptions, email Titan Radiology in November to receive a partial refund for the extra months.

Good luck with your preparations and stay safe!