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American Board of Radiology Announces New Question Types for the Medical Physics Part 1 and Part 2 Exams

In an effort to add more flexibility to the assessment of knowledge derived from medical physics initial certification computerized exam questions, the American Board of Radiology (ABR) has approved three new question types for introduction as pilot questions beginning with the 2017 Medical Physics Part 1 general and Part 2 discipline-specific certification exams. These include case-based, multiple-select, and fill-in-the-blank, as described with examples on the ABR website. An example of the existing point-and-click question type is also shown on the website page.

The multiple-choice question format—with a stem (background information and question), several distractors (incorrect options), and a single key (correct option)—has been the model for a majority of the ABR exam questions in diagnostic radiology, radiation oncology, and medical physics over the past 20-plus years. Within the past 5 years, “R-type” questions, which have a long list of options that is shared by two or more “stems,” have been introduced, as well as “point-and-click” questions that contain images, illustrations, or figures and require the examinee to identify the location of the information requested in the stem by using the computer mouse to point and click on the area.

Each of these exam question types accounts for one “scorable unit” if the correct answer or correct area is selected. In addition, unique to medical physics in the Part 1 general and Part 2 discipline-specific certification exams, there is the historical “complex” multiple-choice question that typically requires several steps of calculation or reasoning to determine the answer and accounts for three “scorable units” when the correct answer is selected. There is no partial credit for complex questions. Complex questions will be reduced in number over the next few years and then eliminated.