It’s early February. Part I of the Boards is next month. I have read half of the Berkeley book, and covered four chapters in the KMK course. My confidence is about a 6 out of 10, but rises to an 8 for certain topics. I get about 50% of the KMK flashcard questions right, but most are lucky guesses. I haven’t even started optics, and that portion alone makes up almost 25% of the test!
But I have a plan.
My advice for anyone taking the first part of the Boards is to have a plan. My plan didn’t exist until mid-January. But that’s okay – you took the KMK course so you aren’t totally in the dark, and it feels good to know that you have purchased the Berkeley books last semester. You have the tools, you just need the plan to successfully achieve your goal.
- Make a schedule. It’s never too late too schedule the time you have left before the exam. You can make a “60 day” schedule or a “final 10 day countdown” schedule. Set goals for each day, whether it’s to “read chapters 3 and 4 today” or “write out formulas and acronyms for pharm.” Base your schedule off of what you need to get done, and make sure to factor in “brain rest” days.
- Practice answering questions. There are questions at the end of each chapter of the Berkeley book. Once you finish reading the chapter’s material, make sure to always test your knowledge. Additionally, KMK gives countless quizzes, flashcards, and helpful hints for the exam. The official NBEO website provides sample test questions that are updated and changed weekly – hopefully they will mirror questions that will be asked on the actual exam! The point: Take advantage of ALL the tools in your kit.
- Don’t be shy. If you don’t understand a concept, or just can’t remember how to calculate that “tear lens” in contact lenses, don’t be scared to ask your classmates or professors. Sometimes, reading the material over and over doesn’t mean you will understand it. Your classmates speak your language – many times their explanation of things makes a lot more sense.
- L’= F + L. Just know this!
- Write out and draw everything. Well, not everything. But it is helpful to write out things like the EOM diagram, for example. Park’s Three Step’ed lately? Wait, what does that sliced cavernous sinus (the one with all the nerves) look like again? Every time you draw something it becomes a vibrant picture in your memory, instead of dull black words on a white background. Try it!
- Use highlighters. You’re going to highlight everything, because you might want to go back and review concepts. Maybe you won’t, but do it anyway! When you highlight a word, you are subconsciously storing that word in your brain, because you are giving extra attention to it and its meaning. Once you highlight “phthisis bulbi” I promise you’ll never forget it.
- Get off Facebook. Nobody cares if you are “stuck in the library studying for 8 hours” and they’re not interested in seeing a pic of your Boards study guides piled up. Get off social media when you are in the zone. I guarantee that an “I passed my Boards!” status will get way more likes than that first one.
- Don’t forget that you are still in school. Go to class, don’t make excuses for yourself, and know that everything you learn in class is related to the Boards. You learn and “study” everyday at optometry school.
- Stop studying at 7pm the day before Boards. You need to get a full night’s rest because that 2-day-hardest-exam-of-your-life called “Boards” is meeting you bright and early in the morning.
Follow this plan and you’ll be in excellent shape for the first part of Boards. Feel free to make any changes or tweaks that suit your personal style of studying, and best of luck!