NBEO Part 1 Fact Sheet (Thanks to AOSA)

This month’s “NBEO Part 1 Article” is brought to you thanks to the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA). Both behind the scenes and at every school of Optometry, the AOSA is always working hard to ensure that Optometry is moving in the right direction for us students. They are the voice for the students and their trustee’s work hard to enrich our 4 years of optometry school providing us with direction and a political voice. I encourage everyone to not only read this article that the AOSA has worked hard to create but to get involved with the AOSA at your optometry school. – Matt Geller, Founder & Senior Editor; OptometryStudents.com


Q: What is tested on Part I of boards?

A: Part I will consist of a blend of items from the National Board’s old Basic Science  exam, and items from the National Board’s old Clinical Science exam. The Clinical Science items shifting to ABS are related to epidemiology/history/symptoms/signs, clinical testing, and diagnosis/pathophysiology. Most ABS items will have the requirement of referencing a clinical condition, either explicitly or implicitly.


Q: What is the general format for Part I of boards?

A: Part I-ABS contains both single-response and multiple-response multiple choice items. Items are scored as completely correct or incorrect. There is NO partial credit.  The vast majority of the items (approximately 85%) are traditional multiple choice items, which consist of a stem (a question or an incomplete statement) followed by three to five options, one of which is the correct or best response.


Approximately 15% of the items are multiple response (MR) items, which consist of a stem followed by four to seven options. An MR item will have two to four correct options and the candidate is required to select ALL of the appropriate options in order to get the item correct. The stem of the MR item indicates how many of the options are required. For example, if there are three correct options, the phrase (SELECT 3) will appear in the stem.


Q: When do we take NBEO Part II?

A: Student candidates must be in the spring of their third academic year to take the new Part I exam. There will be three opportunities to sit for Part I prior to graduation.


Exam Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline Site Change Deadline
March 20-21st  2012 January 17th 2012 February 1st 2012 February 1st 2012
August 7-8th 2012 June 5th 2012 June 20th 2012 June 20th 2012


Q: How long is the exam?

A: The ABS examination will be four sessions in length, each session 3½ hours long containing 125 items, for a total of 500 items.


Q: How much is the Part I exam?
A: $625 (Hand-verification is an extra $120)


Q. When will I know my score for Part I?
A: Scores will be released no later than May 09, 2012


Q: Can you give me any specifics on the types of items?
According to the NBEO website, the exam will be broken down as follows:


Anatomy (Gross, neuroanatomy, Histology, & Development) 12-18%
Biochemistry/Physiology: 10-14%
Immunology/Microbiology/Pathology: 22-30%
Optics (Geometrical, physical, ophthalmic, & physiological): 31-35%
Pharmacology: 11-17%

*Please see the NBEO Website for a more detailed topic outline


Q: Are the items cases going to be presented in a straightforward manner, or will they try to trick us with conflicting exam findings?

A: Some test items refer to patients or subjects with non-normal conditions. Unless the test item provides information suggestive of an underlying non-normal condition, candidates should assume that the referenced patient is normal.



Q: How will pharmaceutical agents be referred to on the exam?

A: On the Applied Basic Science (ABS) examination, drugs are referenced only by generic name. However, to help those candidates who may be more familiar with the trade names of drugs than with the generic names, a list of generic drugs and their trade name equivalents will be printed on the inside front cover of the test booklets. Candidates should note that the list includes only those drugs referenced on the exam that have commonly used trade names. Candidates should also note that the list includes drugs used on other National Board exams; therefore, significantly more drugs appear on the list than actually appear on the ABS exam.

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