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Preparing for the NDBE Part I

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Most second-year dental school students have either taken or will be taking the National Board Dental Exam this year. The good news is that the Boards are no longer taken for a score but instead, Pass/Fail. Read: “You only need a 75% to pass.” While I’m not supporting those who are preparing for the Boards to take it easy or procrastinate on their studies, the Pass/Fail system imposes significantly less pressure on students taking this difficult test. Below are some tried and true tips from upperclassmen that will help you study better.

 

 

The Basics: Resources to Help you Study

Dental decks, Kaplan Review Books, NBDE First Aid. You’ve heard upperclassmen taking about them. Not only are these resources a good place find a comprehensive review of heavily tested topics, but they also have tons of practice questions that will help you practice what you’ve learned. Getting the latest edition of many of these resources is not necessary but could be beneficial. A good portion of the information will stay the same year to year but some minor changes maybe change due to the ever-changing pace of our profession. 

 

The Hard Part: Actually Studying

I’m very picky about my study spaces and environment. For example, a table covered with papers or pen marks on the table from a previous occupant really drive me up the wall. Whether you enjoy studying at home or getting out of your house to study at a public space, find that coveted space that sets you in the mood. You have the power to change your environment so if you are hitting a wall from studying at home, change it up and go to your school’s library or even a coffee shop!

 

Food: Fuel for Your Body and Mind

Many of my friends can study for hours straight without eating even a nibble of food. Kudos to them because I definitely err on the side of stress eating. You’ve heard this a million times but remembering to eat 3 nutritious meals every day will contribute to the success of your studies. Your brain burns about 20% of your daily calorie intake and studying only increases that caloric exhaustion. Bottom line? Don’t skip meals! Eat foods high in protein and good fats to keep you working for longer. 

 

Upperclassmen: Superheroes do exist!

They took the test. They went through the study cycle. They know how to help you maximize your efforts. Find a third year who took the test at your school and quiz them on the topics that are heavily stressed on the boards. Upperclassmen are great resources to help you zone in on your studies.

 

Extra Tip

To avoid yellow teeth and unpleasant coffee breath, try this. Take organic apple juice, which has a ton of natural sugars and dilute it with water in a 1:1 solution. The sugar in the apple juice will help rev up your brain and keep you focused for longer. Research shows that the nutrients in apple juice actually enhance acetylcholine (ACh) neurotransmitter release in your brain. ACh is linked to memory retention. So if you want to pass those boards, try apple juice to fuel your long nights.

 

 

Good Luck!