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<***SPECIAL UPDATE: As of present, the Joint Commission of National Dental Examinations has unanimously voted to move the National Board Dental Examinations (NBDE) Part I and II to a pass/non pass format by 2010. Additionally, there is an idea circulating among dental educators to merge the two board exams into one single, clinically relevant and integrated exam. Currently, the JCNDE is conducting surveys and collecting opinions to help decide how to implement these changes. More regarding this format change will be updated as information is acquired by Top 10 Nation. This change in format would affect international dental applicants as well as current and future dental students and current dentists, especially those interested in post-graduate residency programs. For now, this Top 10 List still applies as to how to do well on the NBDE Part I.***>
Dental school... and boards, an inevitable encounter that all dental students experience. What is this exam all about? More importantly, how do you study for this exam? It all depends on the goal here! Do you want to just pass, or do you want to achieve a 90+ score to obtain admission into a specialty or residency program?
Top 10 Ways or Methods on HOW To Do Well on the US NBDE Part I
1. Dental Decks
Yes, you've heard this hundreds of times. The Dental Decks are an excellent resource. Why? They are concise, dense, and packed full of high-yield information. Exactly what you need to know to pass and do well on the NBDE Part 1. If you are simply looking for a passing score, reading the decks ONCE or TWICE over will help propel you to a 'good enough' level. Review it carefully TWO or THREE times if you want to obtain a 90+ score. How long does it take to review the dental decks? Depending on your personal drive and how much time you spend studying per day, ONE THOROUGH reading will take anywhere from one month to 2 weeks. My personal opinion is that the dental decks also adapt to changes in this exam quite tastefully. Therefore it is strongly advised to obtain a recent copy of the Decks.
2. Personal drive and minimizing inappropriate procrastination
How do you do this? Everyone has a different method. I will share with you a method that works consistently for me. Write down your goals. This is a simple way to determine, clarify, and solidify your future performance on this exam. If you're a procrastinator... you better be a 'higher-end' student! Students that have the ability to absorb large amounts of information in a short period of time? They should spend at least 2 weeks preparing for this exam.
Come across some terminology that you don't understand? Wiki it! Often for this exam, you need to know what a certain word means. Even simple knowledge of what a particular term means or is related to can help you pass this exam and do well.
4. Old examinations
A lot of you might complain about the lower ranking of old exams on this list. A few years ago, I would have placed old exams at #2 on this ranking list. Old exams are still important to understand what the current board examination consists of, but guess what? The current NBDE Part I (into 2008 and beyond) is rapidly changing. Testlets are appearing, pictures may soon arrive, and the 100% digitization and randomization of this exam means that old examinations are losing their lustre. Obviously, I do not have any inside information regarding this, however, my personal opinion is that in the past, the old examinations were more useful, and that there were quite a few instances of repeat questions. In the current versions of the exam, it seems that a different style of questions is appearing. Still, use the old exams, but know the limitations. Shy away from OLDER exams (70's and 80's), and try to focus on old exams that are less than 10 years old. Where do you get old exams? My strong suggestion is to use ASDA released exams. At least this way, you know the answers you are studying are correct. I DO NOT SUGGEST THE USE OF UNRELEASED OR REMEMBERED QUESTIONS. These will not give you an edge. The answers they provide are usually not correct. This type of a "resource" will only confuse you! In fact, you should report this type of information to the Joint Commission On National Dental Examinations.
5. First Aid for the NBDE Part I
This concise book gets an honorable mention from me. I did not use it personally so I cannot advise on the appropriateness or the value of the information contained within this publication. I mention it though because LOTS of my classmates used this book and gave positive feedback. I do have some negative information regarding this book though. There are many errata (errors) within this book (as of 2008). This may lead to confusion and may result in you wasting your time to confirm correctness of facts.
6. Classmates and upperclassmen (and women)
Yes, you will have a few of those wild and crazy classmates that decide to rip through the board exam early on. Listen to their advice, they can tell you which sections to focus upon (like... know your fungi!). They can also advise you as to the style of the examination, and other tidbits of information that is current and relevant. In fact, you should have already been using this resource for dental school in general right?!
Ask your professors during your first and second year classes about what you need to know for the boards. They can point you towards the proper direction well in advance of this exam. This will allow you to know what type of information you need to know... and it will be just that tiny bit easier to remember for when the board exam does come around.
8. Inter-school resources
This depends on your school. Some schools offer a databank of past questions and furnish other personalized information for their own students. Sometimes a student from another school is able to forward this information to you, or sometimes your school actually provides you a review course or information. This is something that you should take advantage of!
9. Mock exams
Institutions, organizations, and clubs such as your local ASDA chapter often hold mock board exams to help you prepare and get a feel for what the exam situation feels like. If you tend to develop stress or you tend to become nervous during exams - this type of a resource may help you!
10. ADA Candidate Guide and online tutorial
Last... and least... this won't exactly help you do any better for the NBDE Part 1, however, it will help you understand the rules and processes that are in effect for this exam. Get to know how the exam is structured and scored. Get to know the timing of your breaks, and other details before you step foot into that Prometric Center to take your exam!