Emily R. Holt, MHA, RDH, CDA, EFDA, a clinical associate professor of dental hygiene at the University of Southern Indiana, offers dental hygiene students a plan to succeed on their National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.
Dental hygiene students across the United States must pass a written examination to gain licensure in their field. Without a plan, the future is uncertain. Luckily, this post provides concrete methods to successfully pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE).
The first place to begin is to download and review the NBDHE Candidate Guide from the American Dental Association’s web page (ada.org). The Candidate Guide provides information on almost any angle of the exam. Use it to identify the content areas found on the exam, be familiar with question formats, and learn testing center procedures, such as prohibited items. Directions on how to create a unique personal identifier (DENTPIN) for examination registration are also in the Candidate Guide. After reviewing the Candidate Guide, creating a DENTPIN is a logical next step. Afterwards, an application can be submitted along with payment. The exam should be scheduled based on your study plan and the timeline you create.
CREATE A BASELINE
Some students like to have a baseline by assessing how much they retained from their courses. One method is to review the table of contents of your board review textbook to find topics that you will need to study more on compared to others. Rank topics according to how well you learned each topic by listing a score of 1-5 next to the chapter titles in the table of contents. A score of 1 means you don’t recall much of the content while a score of 5 indicates you likely don’t need to review the content. Then plan to review topics that need the most work earlier in the study plan. Another way to assess baseline knowledge is to complete mock examinations or attend board review courses. These assessments should not replace personal study time but can gauge where learning discrepancies exist.
CREATE THE STUDY PLAN
Study plans are created by students to breakdown how to study each week, and are individualized for each student. While it can take an hour or more to create a study plan, its framework sets the stage for accountability over the next weeks to months of preparation. The plan keeps the student organized and provides direction with achievable goals. Start with noting when you have blocks of free time in your weekly schedule. To do this, you will need to print a blank weekly calendar and mark down all times you are busy in a typical week. This includes class times, clinic times, work, and other routine activities, such as going to the gym. Identify the open times that can be used for studying on a regular basis. One-hour blocks of time work well for most individuals. Some students need shorter blocks, such as 30-minute sessions. Here are some study plan templates: Weekly Schedule & Study Plan.
The actual study plan is a table used to organize what you will study on a weekly basis. Create it with any word processing software or templates downloaded online. If making your own table, it should have one row for each week before the upcoming exam date. Include four columns in the table. These column titles include the dates and times for study sessions, the topics to be studied, the resources needed for studying, and if additional time is needed to review the topic. When the session is complete, you should write down those specifics in the last column. At least weeks to 8 weeks are usually required to avoid feeling stressed.
IMPLEMENT THE STUDY PLAN
The last step is to implement the study plan. Each study session is 1 hour or less. Academic success offices on campuses recommend this format, which can be referred to as a power hour. The first 1 minute to 2 minutes of the power hour is spent getting organized and setting a goal for the session. The next 30 minutest to 50 minutes is for studying. This includes reading, quizzing, creating study tools, and reflecting. Take a 10-minute break to get up, move a bit, and reward yourself. Return for a 5-minute review of the content before finalizing the session.
Proper anxiety management may help you while taking the NBDHE. Several techniques can prevent or reduce anxiety. Being well-prepared invokes confidence. Maintain a positive attitude when preparing. Avoid negative thoughts and messages. In the week before the examination, exercise, eat healthy meals, and get plenty of rest. Plan a relaxing evening immediately before the examination and avoid last minute cramming.
EXAM DAY SPECIFICS
On the day of the examination, wear comfortable clothing and layer clothing so you can adapt. Do not wear a jacket, coat, gloves, or head covering as some testing centers prohibit these items. Do not wear jewelry unless it is a wedding band or engagement ring for the same reasons. Bring the required forms of identification, and allow plenty of time for traffic, parking difficulties, and bad weather so you can arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled exam. Lastly, relax, breathe deep, and stay focused. You’ve got this!