Radiology Exams

Are you preparing for MD, DNB or DMRD Radiology exams?

Dr. Sikandar M. Shaikh, DMRD, DNB, EDiR, MNAMS, FICR (DNB examiner) and Dr. Niharika Prasad MD FRCR guide you with 'Helpful Tips for the MD/DNB/DMRD Radiology Exam Preparation'.

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DNB (Diplomate of National Board) is a course conducted by the National Board of Examinations (NBE). DNB is recognised by Medical Council of India. There are two types of the DNB Radiodiagnosis courses - Primary and Secondary. Primary DNB is of three years and secondary DNB is of two years. There are specific recognised hospitals and Institutes which run DNB courses in India. The admission to DNB Radiodiagnosis course is based on the NEET score. There are specific criteria laid down for admission and for the curriculum.

After securing a good score in the NEET exam, candidates are eligible for counselling. Subsequently, DNB Institute or Hospital is allotted to candidates according to the merit list. After joining the allotted institute/hospital, the residency starts for primary and secondary DNB candidates. Based on the DNB guidelines, various postings are allotted to the residents:


First year

  • Conventional Radiology
  • Xray
  • Fluoroscopy including Barium and
  • Ultrasound

Second year

  • USG
  • CT
  • MRI

Third year

  • same as second year with
  • One month each of Nuclear Medicine and Interventional Radiology


First year

  • Conventional Radiology
  • Xray
  • Fluoroscopy including Barium and
  • Ultrasound

Second year

  • USG
  • CT
  • MRI
  • One month each of Nuclear Medicine and Interventional Radiology


Every institute has fixed durations of postings as per the NBE guidelines, however some flexibility will be there according to the requirement and functioning of the department. All modalities shall be covered during this residency tenure. If due to some reasons this is not done, then you have the option of rotation to a tertiary centre having that modality like PET-CT and allied modality like Nuclear Medicine

The teaching pattern also will be in the following order : Radiological physics, Positioning in conventional radiology, then system-wise teaching all the body systems.

Formative assessment tests or FAT are conducted every year by different institutes in major cities for theory and practical exams.NBE also conducts online teaching programmes and provides study materials which will be available in CDs in every institutes.

Many CMEs and Conferences are conducted from time to time in India, most of which are resident oriented with focussed targeted teaching. With the current ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the conference scene has shifted to a ‘Webinar-based’ teaching pattern. Daily/weekly webinars are conducted on a plethora of topics which can be assessed from any smart-device either for free or for an affordable price.

There are also numerous dedicated Telegram groups for residents which help provide guidance for free. Many teaching channels are active on YouTube and other paying portals, which teach residents basic concepts with tutorials and case-based discussions.

Most International Radiological societies have regular resident education programmes with specialised modules that train them to crack international exams like FRCR & EDiR.


Radiology can be studied by two approaches – sub-specialty wise books and general radiology books.

General radiology books have all sub-specialty chapters in 2 or more volumes and usually cover the subject in a “something from everything” manner.

Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology (Adam et al) and Textbook of Radiology and Imaging (David Sutton) are two books commonly followed for general studies.

Read our detailed list and analysis of ‘Recommended Radiology Books’.


The importance of regularly reading articles from recognised Radiology journals cannot be emphasized enough. I suggest all residents and practicing radiologists to inculcate a habit of referring to Radiology journal articles for exams and daily problem solving. The recommended Radiology Journals are :

  • Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging
  • Radiology
  • Radiographics
  • Radiology Cardiothoracic Imaging
  • Radiology Cancer Imaging
  • European Radiology
  • British Journal of Radiology
  • Journal of MRI
  • Korean Journal of Radiology
  • Japanese Journal of Radiology
  • American Journal of Roentgenology


With the expanding internet, we have been provided the boon of accessing case-based teaching material from all over the world. This is something our previous generation of radiologists did not have, unfortunately. This provides us a great opportunity to access and learn cases from all over the world and not be limited by the relatively sparse number of cases in the books we currently own.

FINAL DNB EXAM TIPS (After completion of the course)


DNB final examination is held two times in the year (June and December). This DNB exam is divided in Theory and Practical exams.

Theory exam is usually scheduled on second Saturday and Sunday in June and December. After passing the theory exam, Practical exam shall be held. There are three attempts to appear for practical exam after passing the theory exam. If candidate fails in third attempt, then candidate has to write the theory exam again.


Theory exam is divided into four papers: Paper I, II, III and IV

  • All four papers have two parts: A and B. Each part has five questions of 10 marks each.
  • These two parts A and B have to be written in separate answer sheets and the supplementary sheets should be attached to respective main answer sheet of A and B.
  • Each 10-mark question is split into different sub-questions of same question and the answer should be written in this pattern of each sub-question. The marks for each such question are based on the sub-questions, for example: combinations such as 6+4 ,3+7, 3+3+4 , 7+3, 2+4+4 depending on the type of the sub-questions. By answering these sub-questions in an organised manner, it becomes rather easier to score high marks.
  • Hence, I recommend all residents to answer each question separately, start each question on new page, and draw relevant tables/diagrams/flow charts wherever appropriate.


  • The answers should be to the point and precise.
  • You must enumerate the common causes, differentials findings first followed by uncommon entities. This also should be based on the age group, particular pathology or disease. Certain pathologies have dual peaks that need to be mentioned accordingly.
  • Answers in bullet points are preferred than just writing paragraphs of unorganized statements.
  • The answers should be written in clear and good handwriting. because the first impression of the examiner is the neatness of paper and how comfortably he/she is able to read the answers. This will add to the possible gain of couple of marks. However, if examiner is not able to read your writing clearly, it will have a negative impact on the examiner, even if the answer is correct.
  • Most important is time management of the questions. It is best to divide time equally for each question and plan accordingly. Here, some adjustment can be made for some questions which may have short answers, and some may have long answers. Try to finish the questions whose answers you know perfectly, then focus on the questions which are seemingly difficult. Once you are done with this, then you can concentrate on the answers to questions which you do not know thoroughly.
  • Attempt all questions. As this may add one or two marks which will be helpful if you are borderline.
  • After finishing all the answers, try to re-check the answers again if something is missed or some points are to be added.
  • Draw the diagrams, illustrations, or charts neatly and clearly.
  • Recheck if you have entered your roll number and name correctly.
  • All modalities including advanced techniques should be included. If a specific modality is asked, then it should be mentioned in detail. The general concept of answering the disease or pathology is:
    • IMAGING FINDINGS: Starting from
      • Conventional Radiology
      • Ultrasound, Contrast USG,
      • Colour Doppler
      • CT, routine, plain, intravenous and oral contrast, Perfusion, angiogram, single phase, triphasic , Delayed for bowel ,rectal contrast.
      • MRI. routine, contrast, Angio, different specific sequences or technique, Diffusion, Perfusion.
      • PET-CT.
      • PET-MR
      • Nuclear medicine imaging like Bone scan, SPECT, SPECT-CT
      • Interventional Radiology, Diagnostic and therapeutic.
      • Molecular Imaging, Robotic Imaging, Nano imaging are some of the advanced techniques used in various diseases

(These is the sequence of imaging findings if specific imaging modality finding is not asked.)


The preparation of practical DNB exam is mostly based on the spotters, case presentations and viva discussions. More the number of case presentations you do in practice, more the confidence you attain. The background knowledge is also important for any case along with the approach, specially during the discussion with the examiners.

You should provide the key differentials, unless it is an Aunt Minnie case. Here, the more common differentials need to be mentioned first followed by the least common cases. Avoid mentioning the irrelevant differentials as this shall only lead to excess cross-questioning and might divert the discussion from your case.

Answering spotters need to be precise and fast. Attempt all spotters.

** The PRACTICAL EXAM Format which was followed till December 2019 exam was :
  • 40 spotters in 40 minutes - 80 marks
  • 4 short cases for 15 minutes each for each case (4 cases x 40 marks)– 160 marks
  • Table viva = two stations 30 marks each – 60 marks
  • Table Viva 1: Table viva related to Conventional Radiography, instruments and procedures, AERB guidelines, PC-PNDT guidelines, Specimens, Contrast, etc.
  • Table Viva 2. Table viva related to interventional radiology and procedures
[Total Marks: 80 + 160 + 60 = 300]
** The DNB EXAM CONDUCTED AFTER JULY 2020 has a revised format due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new pattern of exam also comprises total 300 marks. It is divided into 2 parts as follows:

PART 1 : 200 marks - CENTRALISED EXAM for 2 and half hour duration which will be held simultaneously Pan India on same date and same time. The answer sheet shall be given to each candidate where you are supposed to write your name and roll number. The exam is conducted in an examination hall where all the candidates can be accommodated.

There shall be a large LCD screen, where questions shall be projected. The questions will be on Physics, all modalities, clinical questions as well as imaging questions.

  • Each question shall have sub-questions which can be one, two, three, etc.
  • 25 questions of 8 marks each = 200 marks. (5 minutes to answer each question).
  • After the first question there shall be gap of 15 seconds
  • After 7th question, 14th question and 21st question there shall be 5 minute break.
  • During this break, the answer sheets shall be uploaded to the DNB portal and will be labelled as 1st folder, 2nd folder, 3rd folder and 4th folder with the main folder name being the Centre of exam.

PART 2: After this entire process of uploading the answer sheets of the first part, the second part begins:

100 marks at Centre as follows -
• 40 marks table viva – four examiners each examiner 10 marks, 5 min each station per candidate
• VIVA 60 marks, 2 stations with two examiners each, 30 minutes viva at each station
= Thus, total 200 marks for CENTRALISED EXAM and 100 marks at CENTRE – Grand Total 300 marks.

* THESIS OR DESSERTATION NEEDS TO BE SUBMITTED SIX MONTHS BEFORE THE EXAM. The acceptance/revision/rejection will be communicated and accordingly the changes to be done before timeline. This should be carried during the exam.


Department logbook needs to be completed and should be carried during exam. This logbook will have the mention of the name of candidate as well as the training period.

This should also include the following:

  • No of Seminars
  • No of Lectures
  • No of Case Presentations
  • No of Conventional Radiology/USG guided procedures
  • No of CT guided procedures
  • No of Inter departmental meeting
  • No of Radiological Emergencies
  • No of CME/Conferences attended.
  • No of CME/Conferences presented
  • No of Intra departmental meetings
  • No of Panel discussions
  • No of Publications.

Lastly, I would suggest all residents to study well, study well in advance and keep up your heads high. You have entered this profession by your merit and you are good enough to pass this exam. Win!

Author: Dr. Sikandar M. Shaikh, DMRD, DNB, EDiR, MNAMS, FICR , Consultant PET-CT & Radiology. Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, India.
Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology, Shadan Institute of Medical Sciences. Hyderabad. India.
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, IIT, Hyderabad.
Author of the book ‘PET-CT in Infection and Inflammation’


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'You have to make it a Priority to make your Priorities a Priority.'

  • Focus on physics and anatomy in the 1st year of residency
  • Subscribe to few radiology related YouTube channels and join focused telegram groups.
  • Discuss your doubts with seniors & faculty on a daily basis.
  • Try to read about interesting/classic cases reported in your department the same day/week as you see them.Remember, procrastination is not your friend.
  • Read standard recommended books and focus on gaining knowledge. Remember that you are now working at a professional level and exam score is not the most important thing.
  • Try to do spotter sets regularly throughout residency.
  • Complete your thesis well in advance before exams, so that you have enough time to publish your thesis and then start studying thoroughly for your final exams.
  • Find some hobbies or co-curricular activities to refresh yourself. This will help you focus on your studies and work better.
  • I always recommend to have a timetable, and to make daily/weekly study goals.

'Failing to plan is planning to fail.'

  • If you are planning to work abroad later, or to pursue a super specialization, second year residency is the best time to start planning, start collecting information on the exams and options available.
  • You can start preparing for the FRCR exams during your residency if you are confident about your preparation.
  • Build contacts; have role models/ mentors from within your institute as well as outside your institute. This will help guide you towards a bright and promising future as a clinical radiologist.
  • Do not be too competitive; do not keep comparing; do not feel dejected on being assigned more work. After residency each person will have a different life plan. Remember, ‘The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.’ - Norman Schwarzkopf.


'Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.'

  • Ask your seniors for guidance related to books (You can also find a comprehensive list of recommended radiology books here). If in doubt regarding 2 similar books, it’s always better to go through them in the library before buying.
  • For practical exams, follow a standard book for procedures and keep it with you during postings.
  • Do not refer too many books. Stick to a standard book for each sub-specialty.
  • Start solving previous year papers at least 3-6 months prior to the exams to get an idea of the exam pattern.
  • Attend as many PG refresher courses and online case discussions/film reading sessions as you can, especially the ones conducted by CMC Vellore, Stanley Medical College, PGI Chandigarh, AIIMS, Nanavati and Ramachandra Institute.
  • Do not stay busy clicking photos or recording lectures during conferences. Try to listen to talks as most of the content will be available online or in books.
  • Volunteer for viva examination in webinars and in departmental discussions. It is better to be wrong in front of your colleagues than in the exams. Remember, nobody is perfect.
  • Take turns and discuss exam cases among your friends.
  • Visit your department museum and see all the case films, well in advance before the exams.

Most importantly- ‘Do not panic!’ It is just an exam and confidence is more important than you might think. Radiology seats are usually opted by the top rankers, so you already have what it takes!

Best of luck!

Author: Dr. Niharika Prasad M.D FRCR is currently an Assistant Professor & Fellow in Musculoskeletal Imaging at Dr.D.Y.Patil Medical College, Hospital & Research Center, Pune, India.