Study Tips for Part 1 of NBEO

By: Andrea Olson SUNY 2012

You’ve made it. You’ve made it to the third year of optometry school. You’ve survived those two awful years of boring basic science-y classes and you’re finally on to clinically relevant courses and even in clinic yourself. You’re finally starting to feel like you might actually be an optometrist some day.

Life would be just peachy if it wasn’t for one eensy weensy little thing: BOARDS. The reality of that horrible ominous test is beginning to become a reality for you, taking shape as a little heavy pit in the ball of your stomach. You might be scrambling for assurances or advice from anyone wiling to give it; if so, here are my nine little pearls for you:

1. Start Early: you won’t remember any of the stuff that you study in October, but when mid-January rolls around and you start having anxiety attacks over how much material there is to memorize in two and a half short months, you’ll at least feel a little better if you can tell yourself you actually started a few months earlier

2. Find a study-buddy: someone to talk things out and help keep you on track. This is especially helpful early on, but perhaps less true later.

3. Get a review book but don’t rely on it exclusively: The KMK or Berkley Review books are very helpful in pulling together a concise summary of all the topics and helping you to organize your review. That said, your original notes are going to be more in depth so you can make sure you really do remember and understand the material.

4. Know your cranial nerves.  All of them. There are 12.

5. Invest in flannel pajama pants and hot chocolate: it’s going to be winter and you’re going to be spending hours on end studying, so you’ll want to be comfy.

6. Don’t sleep through optics again. You may have sleep-walked through the class, but that material is going to come back to haunt you. Especially that section on spectacle magnification.

7. Come up with a study schedule: even if it’s a very loose one. There’s lots of material to cover, and it will overwhelm you; by breaking it down somehow, you’ll be able to better focus and keep your head on straight.

8. Facebook isn’t on Boards. Study one or the other, but don’t try to study both at the same time. Studying for Boards is like last-minute cramming the night before a final, only you have to study that way for weeks instead of just for hours. You need to focus.

9. Ignore all of this. Ignore the upper-classes advice on what to study: they only remember the parts that took them by surprise, and the trauma of surviving Boards pretty much guarantees they have a very skewed memory of it. Everything is on the exam; check the NBEO website for the official break-down.



Ultimately remember that this test is the culmination of everything you’ve studied to date. Which means that you have actually studied everything on this test at one point in time, even though you probably don’t remember most of it now. But as you study, you will remember it.


Good luck.

Andrea Olson
SUNY 2012


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