NBEO part 1 jitters

student in white coat doing contact lens assessment on student

NBEO part 1 jitters

I can finally relax again and enjoy the rest of my holidays in Boston!

As part of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry, students are required to take three examinations in order to become a certified optometrist in the United States. Last week, fourth year students all across the nation took Part II of the NBEO. With months of preparation studying various cases, practice exams, practice questions and more practice exams, the long awaited exam is finally over.

Studying for boards is not much different from studying for the rest of the optometry school exams in the sense that the exam is a review from what you have already been studying for years. Students take the Part I exam during the spring of their third year. This first part consists of 350 applied basic science questions. Aside from studying your notes from classes, one of the best ways to study for this exam is to just keep doing practice questions. There are also NBEO prep courses that students may purchase to help study and practice will help with successfully passing the exam! Time management is important as you will also have classes and clinic to attend along with studying for school exams.

Students take Part II during the fall of fourth year. This exam consists of two different sections: 1) Patient Assessment & Management and 2) Treatment & Management of Ocular Disease. To help prepare for NBEO Part I & II, a majority of students take a preparation course called KMK which is not affiliated with NECO. The course comes with a total of three large textbooks, online videos, and thousands of practice questions to help students succeed. The instructors from the company give a lecture at participating schools over three weekends to discuss key concepts that will be on boards. I really found the course helpful because if there was a topic I was having a difficult time understanding, I could watch the videos to help further explain the content. I also appreciated the mini-quiz questions at the end of each video to assure the material was making sense to me. For the ocular and systemic pharmacology section, I made flashcards and tested myself any chance I had – whether it was on the train, on my way to clinic, or walking around.

I will be taking Part III of the National Boards in a few months. This last part consists of a Clinical Skills Exam that takes place in person in Charlotte, North Carolina. Students have the option to take this exam at any time during their final year. I have just begun practicing for this exam, which builds upon your clinic skills from the previous three years. NECO has a boards prep room for fourth year students to practice and this is arranged in a way that mocks the examination room for the actual Clinical Skills Exam. The best way to do amazing on all three boards examinations is to practice, practice, and more PRACTICE! And of course getting a good night sleep will help you become relaxed the day before the exam.