CNN Investigation Targets Radiology Board Exam Cheating

January 13, 2012

A CNN investigation, “Prescription for Cheating,” has targeted the practice of sharing recall exams – questions and answers to old tests – in preparation for American Board of Radiology exams.

A CNN investigation, “Prescription for Cheating,” has targeted the practice of sharing recall exams – questions and answers to old tests – in preparation for American Board of Radiology exams.

The news network has posted a 2,900-word story on the practice on its website, and will air the program at 8 p.m. ET tonight on “AC360” as well as on "CNN Presents" this Saturday and Sunday, January 14 and 15, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.

“The recalls obtained by CNN show at least 15 years' worth of test questions and answers, some prepared as PowerPoint presentations. The tests were available on a radiology residents' website as well as a shared military computer server,” according to the story by CNN reporters Scott Zamost, Drew Griffin and Azadeh Ansari.

"It's been going on a long time, I know, but I can't give you a date," Gary Becker, MD, executive director of the American Board of Radiology (ABR), which oversees the exam that certifies radiologists, told CNN.

Asked if this were considered cheating, Becker told CNN, "We would call it cheating, and our exam security policy would call it cheating, yes."

The network’s reporting included interviews with a military radiologist who spoke out about the practice of using recalls, as well as interviews conducted at the recent RSNA 2011 conference in Chicago. Some radiologists there considered using the recalls as a study guide to be a gray area, given that details such as the orders of answers differ from those on the real exams. The nature of the exams also adds pressure to check out recalls.

“If they had a test where you could study relevant radiology knowledge and they tested on it, that would be fine,” radiologist Joseph Dieber, MD, told CNN. “Part of the problem is the test and the questions that they ask. Because some of the questions are so obscure, that unless you know that they like to ask questions about that topic, you're not going to study it because some of them are completely irrelevant to the modern practice of radiology.”