Tips for Preparing for NBEO Part 1

Boards are one of the most nerve-wracking events in Optometry School.  While each part of the NBEO presents unique challenges, Part 1 is often considered the most difficult.  This may be due to the fact that Part 1 is a comprehensive knowledge test of everything you have learned during your two and a half years of school, or maybe with the fact that a lot more students struggle with part one compared to other parts of boards. Whatever the case, take a deep breath, and get ready for some advice that’s been collected from students who have been there.

1. Believe That You Will Pass

It sounds silly, but a lot of people who don’t pass Part 1 are the people who said they wouldn’t. These are the people who may have convinced themselves that they want a practice run for next time. In other words, they basically convince themselves that they will fail- and they do! That mentality has no place in your Part 1 studying and it’s going to cause you a lot of unnecessary stress. So, from the first day that you start studying to the day that you check your score, believe that you will pass, and study accordingly.



2. It’s Never Too Early To Start Thinking About Boards

If you are a first or second year, you are, in a sense, preparing for boards by learning as much as you can from your existing classes. Sure, there are great preparation materials out there, but studying for your current exams with the thought that this will help you for boards in the back of your mind is a strong strategy. 

3. Be Honest About Your Abilities

Some people start studying for boards in January and have no problem passing . Others need to give themselves a full eight or nine months of boards preparation. Depending on your study style, you can decide when to start and how to study. Studying on your own schedule can be challenging if your friends are starting later. However, your friends will understand that you can’t go to the movies or grab a drink on a Friday night if you let them know that you’ve started studying for boards.

4. Take Advantage of Available Study Materials

There is a lot of test prep material on the market, but your school may offer additional courses, advice, and even practice questions. Make sure that you are talking to your classmates and to fourth years who’ve taken Part 1 to figure out what’s available. Take advantage of resources that will help you study better in the long-run!

Keep Calm5. Count on Being Busy

It would be so amazing, and logical, for schools to give students ample time to prepare for Part 1 (and Part 2…and 3) of boards. Unfortunately, most optometry schools don’t work this way and you are expected to continue attending class and clinic while you study for Boards. It’s a good idea to see what your school’s policy is in advance so that you are can organize your time wisely.

6. Get Creative

While you will be busy, there are plenty of ways to get your studying and practice questions done. Most study materials come in a portable format so you can study on the go. You can also do questions between clinic patients or use long breaks in your day to sneak in some reading. In some cases, you may even be able to sneak in some studying between classes or during class time – just be respectful of your professors.

7. Take Time Off

Studying for boards should be your goal, but you do need to sleep and rest (occasionally). While some individuals can go through marathon study sessions, others need to rest after a few hours. If you find yourself reading the same sentence three to five times, you probably need a break.

8. Avoid Temptation

 You want to avoid setting yourself up for distractions while you study. This might mean not studying on your bed if you’re tempted to take a nap or avoiding new shows on Netflix because you tend to binge-watch.

There’s a lot of great advice available for boards. Some of it may be helpful to you and some of it won’t feel relevant. Ultimately, you have to get through Part 1 just like you had to get through that difficult second-year semester – and you will! Just keep your eye on the prize!


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