Changes to the NBEO PART III Clinical Skills Examination

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Did you hear about the changes that will be occurring to the National Board Exam, beginning for the class of 2012?

The Part III Clinical Skills Examination (CSE) will be taking place, NOT at your college of optometry but instead at a single testing site in Charlotte, North Carolina!

Normally, the twice-yearly Part III Clinical Skills Examination (CSE) was administered at each individual optometry school. This meant taking the boards in the comfort of your own optometry school on the equipment and atmosphere you are used to.

The change will now require all students to report to Charlotte, North Carolina to a common testing center so that all students take the test under the same exact conditions with the same exact equipment.  The reason the switch was made was to provide a more “contemporary, effective, standardized and comprehensive examination; the new test would allow for a more consistently administered, uniformly scored, stable exam.”

Now before you draw conclusions, lets look at why this decision was made. To sum it up it comes down to making things fair for all optometry students, which is of course a good thing!

The NBEO mainly wanted to get rid of the “home field advantage” situation. There were some schools which tested students within their school clinics while other schools required students to test at non-school clinics near by.

For the NBEO, having the CSE at multiple test sites created many inconsistencies that caused the board to receive over 400 incident reports every year. So instead of focusing on making a better test, NBEO staff dealt with incident reports and inconsistencies.

So why Charlotte, North Carolina?

Here is some more background information… (taken directly from the NBEO website and newsletter)

  • Charlotte ranked among the 5 MOST CENTRAL, sizeable cities in the United States, relative to the total optometric student population.
  • Geographically, 16 schools/colleges (including the institutions in the U.S Canada, and Puerto Rico) are located east of the U.S. midline; only 6 exist west of this line.

Factors considered before choosing the site were…

  • Motel costs within the cities under consideration
  • Traffic congestion and costs as they relate to public roadway transportation
  • The crime rate
  • The cost, convenience, and consumer satisfaction involved with air travel to and from the potential testing site cities.
  • The Charlotte Douglas International Airport is 15-20 minutes from the CSE testing facility.
  • The NCCTO initially will have the capacity to assess 16 Candidates per day, throughout the year.
  • Students may take their CSE’s as early within their fourth year as they are clinically comfortable.
  • Unofficial scores will be available to Candidates within 8 weeks of their Part III exam so that they have the opportunity to re-test before graduation, if necessary.
  • Identical examination rooms will always be in the exact same configuration for all Candidates.
  • NBEO will provide all Candidates the opportunity to preview the facility, rooms, and the CSE process through online video capabilities.
  • Candidates will be able to familiarize themselves with NBEO equipment on-site during orientation, prior to their examinations.
  • Also the exams will be videotaped instead of overseen by a single examiner. This will include videotaped BIO/slit-lamp instead of teaching tubes/teaching mirrors. The reason for this change is so that multiple remote examiners can review performance of your exam instead of relying on just 1 rating from a single examiner.

Click this official link for the NBEO message to the students…

What does this mean for you?

C/o 2011: Will be the last class to take part III using the traditional method of testing in years past.

C/o 2012: Will be the first class to take the exam in North Carolina.

C/o 2013 & years to follow: Will also be taking the exam in North Carolina.

So there you have it, but just know that the NBEO committee obviously has the best intentions for us optometry students and for our profession so keep that in mind. will provide full coverage of the issue as it develops so check back on a regular basis.

Also, go ahead and comment below. The NBEO and other students want to hear your opinion on the issue so make your voice heard and post a comment.

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