NBEO Part 3: Just Survive, Y’all

NBEO Part 3 Survival Guide

All three parts of National Boards are difficult and trying, but for some fourth year optometry students, NBEO Part 3 seems to be the most psychologically trying of all. Fear not, though! Here are the top 4 things you can do to best prepare for your NBEO Part 3 experience.

NBEO Part 3

  1. Clinic Time. By the time 4th year rolls around, you have infinite time in clinic to practice skills where you aren’t so confident. I felt weak in the retinoscopy area, so I decided I would do retinoscopy for the month leading up to my Board exam on every patient that I could. It worked! I walked into Part 3 feeling confident in retinoscopy because I had been practicing. Every ounce of confidence you can give yourselves before this examination is a boost in your favor!
  2. Make a script. It will keep your mind at ease and keep you on track if you can follow a script. Scripts are useful because per the NBEO Clinical Skills Exam Candidate Guide, “the exam criteria are in yes-no checklists and items must be completed in their entirety to receive credit.” In my opinion, the best plan is to create your own script based directly off the NBEO outline and then read it out loud when you are done to make sure you did not forget anything, or to simplify things that could be condensed.NBEO Part 3
  3. PRACTICE. More importantly is to practice the correct way. After you have the script down, it is helpful to begin practicing early on a classmate who is also studying. In this scenario, they can stop you if you forget something. Even better? Have a third student as a proctor grading you as you go. As you get more comfortable, practice on someone who doesn’t know what you are doing. It will be more real world and pose a few more likely obstacles (“wait explain that again”, or “you are going to suction WHAT to my eye?”) than your classmates who know your every move and are the perfect patients. Time yourself to ensure you will get through everything. Finally, make sure you look at the online materials for site information and equipment lists NBEO provides so you know what equipment you will be provided the day of the examination.
  4. Know that things will go wrong. It’s okay. Be ready to take a deep breath when, for example, the contact falls off your finger, if your Goldmann mires are too thick, if you run out of time on lens verification, or if you cannot get binocular vision through the oculars (all things that happen to test takers). Keeping yourself calm and moving on is the best way to stay on track to pass the exam. NBEO Part 3 is a mental test that we all have just have to conquer! Good luck everyone!
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