Friday, June 25, 2010

National Boards

The last time I updated this blog of mine, I was amidst the daunting task of studying for my National Board exam. Just to give you an idea of what this exam is about, it is like the NCLEX for nursing, the bar exam for lawyers, etc. It is given by the American Dental Association, is 350 multiple choice questions (200 normal MC questions, and 150 case study questions), and includes material from our entire 2 years (or 4 in a University setting) of school plus anything else the ADA thinks we should know relating to hygiene...

I was studying for a good 3-4 weeks straight before the exam. I wish I'd taken a picture of our kitchen table that was basically non-functional as a kitchen table thanks to all of my notes, books, notecards, etc. spread all over it. I went to a few review sessions on different topics that I felt I needed some serious review of (Pharmacology...the only class I got a C in during all of hygiene school, Dental Materials, etc.). By the week before the exam, I was just about studied out. I hated feeling that way, but I was at the point where I knew what I knew, which was a lot, and studying anymore probably wasn't going to do me much good.

The whole week before the exam, I went over my notecards, etc. from the more difficult topics I had reviewed, and just tried to relax. At that point I had learned all the material I was going to, and deep down inside my brain I did have most of the information stored from the previous 2 years of school. I wasn't going to learn anything new in the 2 or 3 days before the exam.

The day before I went to class, where we had a combined baby shower for one of our instructors and one of our clinic front desk girls who were both due to have a baby this summer. I tried to just relax and not think about the exam too much. Many of my classmates asked if I felt ready and if I was nervous for the next day. I replied that I was nervous of course, but I felt as ready as I was ever going to be.

(There were only 5 girls in my class, including myself that took the NBDHE that day. Most of the other girls in my class scheduled theirs for the end of May because they started freaking out around mid-april that they wouldn't be ready by May 6th)

The exam started at 8:30 am on Thursday May 6th. It was all given on the computer, which did make it a little easier I think than if it would have been on paper like it has been for years. We had until 5 pm to finish the exam. We had 3.5 hours for the first 200 questions, then an optional hour lunch break, and then 3.5 hours for the last 150 questions.

The beauty of the computer method also is that you aren't required to take any breaks if you don't want to. Most people would want to take a break anyway just to keep their sanity but it isn't required. I suppose I am one of the crazy ones because I didn't take any breaks. I sat down at 8:30 am and went straight through all 350 questions. I walked out at 1 pm and was completely done. It was rough, but I'm glad I did it that way. When I finished the first 200 questions, I was feeling good and was anxious to keep going. I didn't feel like I needed a break. Generally I am a fast test taker anyway (I was usually the 2nd or 3rd one done in my class everytime). Plus, at 1 when I was done, I was able to go home and spend the rest of the day with my husband (who happened to have that day off) relaxing and celebrating being done with that awful exam.

I felt like I did the very best I could. I surprisingly felt much better about the 150 case studies (which everyone always says are much more difficult). There were quite a few questions that I didn't know, but most of them I could narrow the answers down to 2 and then just take a good guess from there. There were only about 5 or 6 that I completely had absolutely no idea and had never seen the material before.

The exam is graded on a National curve, and we have to get a 75% to pass. Generally this works out to mean we can get a 65% before the curve to pass. They also say (whoever "they" is) that 90% of people who take the exam pass it the first time. I just kept telling myself that and prayed that I passed.

A couple weeks later I received my results in the mail.


It was such a HUGE weight off my shoulders when I got this in the mail and knew that I was done and never would have to endure that exam ever again. All my hard work paid off and it was such a great feeling!


The Smiths said...

Congrats! All that studying really paid off. What are you going to do now?

Jill Bienz said...

We're living in Queen Creek now, and we're both looking for jobs now. How are you guys doing?