Studying for my Canadian board examination

Studying for my Canadian board examination

I’ve reached many academic milestones since I began my OD degree at NECO three and a half years ago. Every month I’ve spent at NECO has come with unique challenges and personal achievements. My most recent milestone was finally writing my Canadian Optometry Board Examination.

What is the Canadian Optometry Examination?

Passing the Canadian Optometry Board Examination is a requirement to practice optometry in most Canadian provinces. There are two opportunities offered each year to complete the written and practical exams; one in the fall and one in the spring. The written and practical exams can either be attempted during different sessions (one in the fall, one in the spring) or all together within one session. I decided to attempt only the written portion during the fall, so that I could focus my studying solely on clinical theory and give myself sufficient time to refine my optometric skills before attempting the practical portion in the spring.

The Canadian written examination is in many ways similar to Part 2 of the American Board Examination. It is more focused on practical clinical knowledge than ocular theory. This made studying for it much more intuitive as the knowledge needed for the examination was what I was learning about daily within my clinical placement. While reviewing my resources, this meant I did not spend as much time covering sections such as optics or anatomy as I did on ocular and systemic diseases.

How I Studied for Canadian Boards

Although there are many resources available to prepare students for Part 1 and Part 2 of the American board examination, I could not find any Canadian specific study tools to help me prepare for my Canadian Examination. Like many of my fellow Canadian students, I decided to prepare for Canadian Boards by reviewing KMK Part 2. KMK Part 2 was developed to help students prepare for Part 2 of the American board examinations and is made up primarily of sample patient cases. This was beneficial because it allowed me to grow accustomed to the case based format of the Canadian exam. An additional tool I used was Will’s Eye Manual because it provided a concise summary of most ocular diseases as well as potential treatment methods.

One of the most difficult aspects of studying for Canadian boards was finding sufficient time to review the material. Working at clinic full time during the week and testing research subjects for my Master’s project on weekends meant I did not have a great deal of extra time to study. Because of this, I made sure to start studying for the examination many months in advance. I tried to keep a flexible study schedule to prevent getting burnt out or overly stressed. This allowed me to take breaks, watch movies, and go out with friends without feeling worried about not meeting my study goals. Starting my studying early also meant that by the time I reached the final weeks leading up to the examination, I had already reviewed all the material and thus could focus my energy on areas of knowledge in which I was weaker. I knew pharmacology would be the hardest subject for me to memorize, so I dedicated a great deal of time to learning the mechanisms and side effects of common medications. Flashcards were a great tool in solidifying this knowledge in my long-term memory.

Writing my Canadian Board Examination was something I had been dreading, yet also strangely looking forward to, for a long time. Hopefully I was successful in my attempt at the written portion. But now that I have at least attempted this examination, I can focus my energy on the greatest milestone of all, graduating from NECO.