Passing the NBDE Part II

Posted by Dr. Patrice Smith on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 @ 12:00 PM

example-test-scantron.jpgYou 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: You are now preparing to take the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part II.

The National Board Dental Examination (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 over 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. You may find the ADA’s 2016 NBDE Part II Guide here:

Testing yourself and seeing where your strengths and weaknesses are, in my opinion, always a good idea and a good place to start. You can purchase reprinted copies of old exams from the ASDA website here:

The good news about testing for Part II is that it is a lot more fun than studying for Part I! Yes, studying can indeed be fun! 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. I can tell you from experience, however, that 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. The best advice I can give you is:

  • 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!

Some very good resources that can be used for preparing for the NBDE Part II are:

  1. Mosby’s Review for the NBD Part II

I would recommend starting with Mosby’s Review. It has a great deal of information and covers each area well. It is pretty dense, but you will have a pretty good foundation after going through it. Pay attention to the patient management section. Kaplan and First Aid for the NBDE Part II would be reference materials of similar value.

  1. Dental Decks

This is always a top recommendation! The Dental Decks are very thorough and they cover each section well. The great thing is you can stuff a few in your pocket and study on the go.

  1. Tufts Pharmacology

This document is a gold mine for the pharmacology section. I would say it’s an absolute must, so get your hands on it. Here’s a copy:  A quick Google search can also help.


THE NEXTDDS will very soon be launching its self-testing tool where you will have access to a bank of over 5,000 questions and answers. You will be able to take practice tests that are structured to align to the NBDE Parts I and II. The question formatting will be flexible to include MCQs, short answer, fill-in-the blank, and video/visual recognition and response, and you will have real-time feedback and coursework scoring. This is all very exciting! Stay tuned for the launch.

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. Almost there guys!

Good luck!

Tags: studying, NBDE, Passing the NBDE, National Board Dental Examination, resources

Your D1 Survival Guide: Part 1--Note Taking and Adjusting to Dental School

Posted by Abby Halpern on Sat, Jan 30, 2016 @ 12:16 PM

Meet AbbyStarting dental school can be challenging for some first-year students, as you are faced with new terminology and a wealth information right out of the gate. You have to get acclimated to having endless hours of lectures each day, you don’t yet know how to succeed in the sim lab, and clinic is off in the distance. Well, I’m here to help.

As a D2 at the Dental College of Georgia, I’ve had some of those same questions. But with a little perseverance and helpful hints from more experienced students, I was able to get my footing. In this series, I’m going to tackle a few important issues and share some insight to help YOU through the process, too.

Q: What is the most effective way to take notes?

A: Dental students have various methods for studying and retaining information, and the key is to determine what regimen works best for you. As a second-year student, I’ve tried a whole bunch of methods and I tend to have particular methods for particular classes. For example, in my anatomy courses, I like to condense PowerPoint presentations by handwriting (in the tiniest of print) and drawing pictures that fill up a single page of computer paper per lecture. In these types of courses, understanding the relationship between things and visualizing the constituent parts is what I needed to focus on.

Recently, I started using an iPad to take notes during lectures using the Notability app. I’ve loved the organization this allows me, and I honestly think I’m more focused in class because of it. I’m more apt to flip through slides when the interface is so convenient. Other apps beneficial to my classmates include Evernote and GoogleDocs, and I’d encourage you to experiment with one or two others to see how they handle images, revisions, and your particular learning style.

Additionally, my classmates and I will often re-listen to lectures through software that our school provides. This method allows us to solidify information or ensure that we haven’t missed any key points during a fast-paced lecture. It’s also well suited for auditory learners.

Speaking of speed, you can also fast forward these lectures and get through material in half of the time if you need a refresher session. Do not get bogged down in wondering you if you are taking notes and studying the “right” way because there is no single correct way to accomplish this. My suggestion would be to attempt a method you think will be advantageous and to stick with what provides you with the greatest success.

Q: “How does dental school compare to undergrad?”

A: This is a great question because we, as dental students, are the type of people that want to know exactly what we are getting ourselves into. It’s a lot like that forever comparison, or lack thereof, between apples and oranges: for sure, they are both fruits and they have seeds, but beyond those aspects, they are totally different entities.
To be honest, and this may disappoint some of you, I do not think that your undergraduate degree is the most important factor in preparing you for dental school. The experiences you have inside the dental office and outside its confines give you a better understanding of the practitioner you want to be and thus the dedication and motivation you will adhere to during dental school in order to achieve these goals…but I could probably write a whole separate article on that topic.

I will say that your peers in dental school are so much more than just classmates. The bonds you make, the conversations you enjoy, and the realizations you have that these will be your future colleagues are all amazing experiences.

In opposition, the workload is no pleasant surprise. The hours of studying, preparing, and lab work are as rough as you’ve heard. So many people told me of the long hours; I reasoned with myself that I wouldn’t have the same exhaustive days. I’ve never been so quick to eat my words before. Most school days begin at 8am and end at 5pm. It can be difficult to stay focused for so many hours of lectures, especially at the beginning when your brain is used to maybe 3 to 4 hours of PowerPoint presentations per day as an undergrad. This rigor takes some getting used to, but your passion for this profession, along with those new relationships, help you push through. Dental school is incredibly different from your undergraduate education, and while this may seem daunting and scary at times, these differences are what make dental school such an impactful experience—the experience that will prepare you for the rest of you professional life.

I hope this helped give you an idea of what dental school really is like. In Part 2 of the series, we will cover how to keep your motivation and stamina over the four years of dental school as well as what to expect in your first patient experience. Stay tuned, and I welcome any questions you have!


Need more help acclimating to your first year in dental school? THE NEXTDDS has a host of instructional resources and step-by-step technique guides available to support you. Enroll today--it's FREE!

Tags: education, dental education, student, dental, studying, D1

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