Helpful Habits for Passing the NBDE Part I

Aspen: Aspen Dental

Date:December 18, 2017 

The National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part 1 will be your first standardized examination on your journey to become a dentist. It’s a one-day exam consisting of 400 questions from the basic sciences (e.g., anatomic science, biochemistry, dental anatomy), taken over a seven-hour period.

The National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part 1 will be your first standardized examination on your journey to become a dentist. It’s a one-day exam consisting of 400 questions from the basic sciences (e.g., anatomic science, biochemistry, dental anatomy), taken over a seven-hour period. The specifications, schedule, registration, and fees for the exam are readily available at the ADA’s 2016 NBDE Part 1 Guide. Here are valuable recommendations to aid in your studies.

Outline your plan of action. Schedule time to study, manage your time wisely, and stay organized.

  • Start with the easy subjects and get those out of the way. Review them so that you can move on and spend more time on the more challenging subjects. This will boost your confidence and motivate you to delve into your studies.
  • Don’t acquire too many resources. Unless you are super-organized, this will only confuse you and cause stress. Get a few resources and focus on getting through those. You can use your textbooks and school notes as a reference.
  • Try to get the most updated study materials. Information gets updated all the time, and while there may not be drastic changes year to year, you want to ensure that you are reading the most updated information on any topic.
  • Upperclassmen are your friends. Speak with other dental students who have taken the exam before. Ask them for advice, the resources they used, and what their study habits were.
  • As it gets closer to test day, take practice exams. Remember that this exam is seven hours with a scheduled 30-minute break. Pretend as though it were the real exam and go for the full scheduled time. You will be glad you did this come test day.
    This is a serious time, so avoid distractions during studying. You have a deadline and you must stay on task. During your studies you may have to go online to do some research, but do not get side-tracked and end up on YouTube or social media!

This is a serious time, so avoid distractions during studying. You have a deadline and you must stay on task. During your studies you may have to go online to do some research, but do not get side-tracked and end up on YouTube or social media!

Ultimately, you have to come up with an approach that works for you. However, any endeavor towards success includes having a plan, getting and staying organized, and managing your time well.

While 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 a pass/fail criteria. While that doesn't mean that the Boards will take it easy on you and that you should procrastinate on your studies, the Pass/Fail system imposes significantly less pressure on students taking this difficult test. Regardless, you must be ready to make the necessary preparations in the studying and research behind the exam in order to successfully get that passing grade. Good luck on your NBDE!

Must-Consider Resources

ASDA NBDE Reprints

Reviewing old questions is helpful for understanding the format and enabling you to get a feel for pacing. You can purchase right from the ASDA website in the "Member Resources" tab.

First Aid for the NBDE Part 1

This resource offers a good foundation in all the subject areas and is perhaps one of the most concise. Thus, this is a good place to start your studies.

Mosby’s Review for NBDE

This resource has proved very helpful to many, often as a starting point for their NBDE preparations.

Dental Decks

Used with the above, Dental Decks can be used to both study from and test yourself. Dental Decks are flash cards that are concise, yet packed with high-yield information.

Kaplan dentEssentials: High Yield NBDE Part 1 Review

Dental students have said that it is akin to the Mosby’s or First Aid and covers most of the subject areas well.

Dental Boards Mastery

It was created by dental students in partnership with the University of Iowa, coming equipped with practice questions and quizzes accessible online or by download as an app to your iPhone or Android smartphone.

THE NEXTDDS

THE NEXTDDS will soon launch a self-testing tool with a bank of 5,000+ questions and answers. You will be able to take practice tests that are structured to align to the NBDE Parts I and II.