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The Inside Skinny Passing Your NBDE Part II

Aspen: Aspen Dental

Date:December 18, 2017 

You have gone through the rigors of dental school and are now on the home stretch to obtaining your dental degree!

You have gone through the rigors of dental school and are now on the home stretch to obtaining your dental degree! The end is near, but there are still a few hurdles to jump: Most notably, if you're reading this, you are now preparing to take the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part II.

The NBDE Part II is typically taken during the latter part of your third year, or later in your fourth year of dental school. It is taken during a seven (7)-hour period over the course of two days and comprises 400 questions on day one, and 100 case-based questions on day two. The areas covered on the NBDE Part II include: Operative Dentistry, Pharmacology, Prosthodontics, Endodontics, Periodontics, Oral Pathology/Radiology, Oral Surgery/Pain Control, Orthodontics/Pediatric Dentistry, Patient Management.

You have taken a myriad of exams in dental school and have already completed the NBDE Part I, so you should have a good idea of what to expect with the NBDE Part II. For additional information on the requirements of the exam, you may find the ADA’s 2016 NBDE Part II Guide here. Here are some important tips to know to help you ace the NBDE Part II.

Prepare Yourself

Testing yourself and seeing where your strengths and weaknesses are often good ideas and good places to start your preparations. You can purchase reprinted copies of old exams from the ASDA website here. Part II is more conceptual and the information covered is more clinically relevant. It is definitely not a drag, since you now have points of reference from clinical experiences.

By now, you should know how to test and motivate yourself to study. Understandably, remaining focused and motivated when you have so much going on (clinic requirements, school exams, leadership and organization responsibilities, upcoming graduation, etc.)—especially while senioritis kicks in— can be quite a challenge. Some advice to keep top of mind:

Outline your plan of action and stick to it!

Be steadfast in your plans about this. Just think, the sooner I get this out of the way, the sooner I can move on and focus on other things. This is just one more step towards the finish line.

Avoid distractions

Seriously, remove all social media apps from your phone and scope out a space where you can really zone in and get some solid study time. More power to you if you can focus at a place like Starbucks, with all the music, foot traffic, and the array of different delicious aromas!

Break up the routine

Give your brain a break. A change of scenery after a couple hours in one spot can be very helpful. You can even go for a walk, indulge in some online retail therapy, and, if you’re home, make a meal or bake a cake! Do something to break up the monotony. When you return to the books you will be refreshed for Round 2!

Take practice tests and go through questions

After you’ve gone through your study materials, the only real way to know if you’ve been retaining any of the information is to test yourself. It’s also a great way for you to learn some things. Practice make perfect! Any combination of the resources above will almost always guarantee success on the NBDE Part II. Remember, you must know yourself and your study habits. Create a study schedule and stick to it.

Prepare for Face-to-Face Introductions

Just because your network is developed online doesn't mean relationships stay there. Social networking sites often connect people offline through individual meetings or group events.

Help Yourself by Helping Others

Networking is reciprocal, so do unto others as you'd want done to you. If you're able to help people, they'll be more likely to remember you and return the favor.


Be sure to continue your journey of networking like a PRO by reading some of the valuable related resources below. Check out for even more crucial assets to accompany your dental education!

Preparing for the NBDE Part II

Latest is the Best

Obtain the most recent NBDE study materials. Start with Kaplan Review Books, Dental Decks, and NBDE First Aid. See what was asked in the previous years and gauge yourself by doing some questions to see where you actually stand.

Balance Your Day

Spend time not only studying but enjoying. Listen to music, do some blogging, do something that gives you a well-deserved break.

Maintain Proper Nutrition and Sleep

Eat and sleep well and you will be able to focus longer, retain more knowledge, maintain motivation, and stay happier.

Focus on Weaknesses

If you’re a dental anatomy whiz, don’t spend 70% of your time studying it. You will naturally focus on concepts that you already understand. Realize this about human nature and fight against it if you want efficient studying.