dPseh

2+ Year Member
Aug 18, 2015
63
99
Status
Dentist
Hi everyone,

I passed my NBDE Part 1 and would like to share my experience with everyone. While studying, I searched long and wide for experiences regarding the exam, but most experiences were pretty old (before the exam was P/F) or from international students.
I am a US student who took the exam after my first year during our summer off. We do not take biochem at our school, and we also have not taken oral pathology. I'm just going to make a list of my thoughts about the sections, tips, and the materials I used in no particular order.

Before I start: I will not share specific questions, and I do not have any material to share or sell. And remember that this is my personal experience. Exams always vary!

1. Materials used: I used the 2009-2010 dental decks that I borrowed from a friend. I also downloaded the Dental Boards Mastery NBDE Part 1 app from the App Store for $60. In addition, I also did the 2013-2014 dental decks testlet, as well as released exams M and N.
- I did not like the dental decks at all. They were very disorganized with lots of info packed into the back of the card. They were also riddled with mistakes that luckily, my friend had already gone through and corrected. The questions on the decks were also not representative of the actual exam. Having said that, I DO believe that the decks are enough to pass the exam. If you know them in and out, the exam will be easy. I did not use First Aid, but if I had to do this all over again, I would give First Aid a look.
- I loved the DBM app. It was totally worth the money. The app takes released exam questions and puts it in such a user friendly interface, and I'll be honest - they made it a little fun. They had great mnemonics (pick and choose - some weren't very good). You can tell the creators put a lot of effort into creating the app.
With each question you answer, there is an explanation that follows. You can mark which ones you know, maybe's, and don't know's. I highly recommend that you take a look at it. They also offer it in the Google Play store as well. I will definitely be using DBM Part 2 when the time comes.
If you know your stuff already, I think studying from this app alone is enough. Personally, I think this app is a great tool, but should not be the primary tool.
I had about 5 repeats from the app on my exam.
The app creators also have a 200% money back guarantee if you fail. And from what I've heard and seen, they have great customer service so they will be willing to honor it. (No, I am not a creator nor do I have anything to gain by saying this!).
- Doing 1 round of dental deck testlets is a very wise decision. It gives you an idea of the types of questions, and the format. I thought the 13-14 testlet was a decent representative (not spot-on) of the testlet questions I encountered on my exam.
- I didn't complete any released exams. I did about 3/4 of one and I scored around 70%. As I said, the DBM app had old questions and so I encountered quite a few old questions on the two released exams.
The actual exam is HARDER than the released exams.

2. The exam is not that bad if you know your stuff. I still walked out feeling pretty horrible, but apparently, over 90% of first time test takers pass, and most everyone feels like they failed when they walk out. As mentioned before, decks are totally sufficient to pass.

3. The majority of the questions on the exam are straight forward (not exhibiting any trickery as I have seen mentioned on other threads...). I would say about 70-80% of the questions are straightfoward questions, such as, "What cranial nerve innervates this structure?" So don't feel afraid when you see other threads mentioning tough second order questions!

4. I found that I had less anatomy than expected. The anatomy that I did have was mostly head and neck. I had around 10 questions relating to other extremities. I don't remember having any about anything below the abdomen. From the questions I got, I think I overstudied for anatomy. Nerves and blood supply/drainage are easy questions to get right.

5. I had more biochem/physio questions than expected. Lots of questions related to enzymes and amino acids, so know those, if anything! I had a lot of questions related to the respiratory system, and the renal system. I had a quite few questions related to other parts of the body (bones, cardiovascular, a few questions related to the reproductive system).

6. When studying, I skipped over anything related to the reproductive system, as well as bone anatomy (and a few other sections on top of that). If you have certain amount of time to study, you need to pick your topics wisely! Also remember this exam is P/F, with the number 60-65% of the questions right being thrown around.

7. I was severely under prepared for micro and path, as I very briefly went over the cards because I ran out of time. I left this section for last because this is the most variable section. They can ask about any disease or organism, and it may not have been on the cards! I tried memorizing the important bacteria and viruses and their characteristics. I really think I wasted my time trying to memorize the minute details. There were SO many tables in the decks with characteristics of each organism, it was wayyyy too much. As soon as I saw most of the tables, I just wanted to give up on the whole section.
Path was a complete wash - too many diseases, too many disorders that I was not interested in. I would recommend knowing hormone related diseases, things related to neoplasms, and blood and kidney disorders.

8. There were quite a few questions that were mind boggling. I didn't even know what they were trying to ask, or they weren't specific enough. These, however, were far and few.

9. In terms of question format, the large majority was question and answer and "which is NOT" questions. I had NO questions in the format of "the two statements are true and related, etc." and only a few questions where I was required to "select all that apply". I think I had 2 T/F questions.

10. Dental anatomy and occlusion was definitely the easiest section. This section is pretty much a gimme, so know your anatomy and occlusion. I had a few questions related to tooth abnormalities. Know morphology of primary teeth, know eruption ages, calcification stages, all that jazz. They are easy questions to get right!

11. The decks I used had pictures of teeth to identify. This is not the case in the new exam. There were no occlusion pictures, no anatomy pictures.

12. I had about 7-8 testlets that were split with my 1 hour lunch break. The testlets encompassed ALL the subjects, and consisted of 7-10 questions each, most of which were head and neck related.

13. I took the entire time. The first half, I didn't have enough time to review all my marked questions (and I had a lot). The second half, I was just too tired to care, but I still left with only 5 minutes left. :p Time was NOT an issue though. You have 3.5 hours for each half, and only 200 questions to answer. I finished with plenty of time left, it was reviewing the questions I was unsure of that took the most time.

14. Read the ethics cards in the decks. Very easy points, and there are only about 15 cards.

15. There is a question breakdown of the exam on the ADA website (just Google it - it's in the NBDE part 1 guide). I actually think that the breakdown is an estimate of what you will see on the exam. I recall having only 3 ethics questions when the breakdown says there will be 4. But I could be recalling incorrectly. Regardless, it is still a good tool for time management, to see which sections you should be spending more time on.

16. My exam results took 2.5 weeks to reach my home. I'd say give them 2-4 weeks to score your exam.

17. In terms of studying, I went through the decks and made bullet-point notes on my laptop of things I didn't know. I borrowed the decks, so I could not write on them. This was my method of studying, and it took quite a while to get through cards I didn't know. This is part of the reason why I could not get to the micro/path cards (I underestimated the amount of time I would need to get through the decks).

17. I gave myself 5 weeks to study for this exam, but due to my nature, I didn't start "seriously" studying until about 2 weeks beforehand. At 1.5 weeks, I started freaking out and was doing 8+ hours a day, a week beforehand, I was doing 10-16 hours. The fear of failing drove me crazy! I am a good test taker, but I am NOT a good studier, and I do not handle the stresses of studying for standardized exams well at all. I suffered emotionally while studying for the DAT, and it was no different this time. But I had the support of so many people around me - classmates, friends, significant other, and I even reached out to my brother (we do not do this "emotional support" thing at all). Give yourself plenty of time to study for this exam so you don't suffer like I did! I was thinking about rescheduling, but my own schedule did not allow for that. After having taken the exam, I do NOT regret it. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I started enjoying my last summer off (the last one until I retire!).
Surround yourself by positive people and people who believe in you!!! :) It makes a huge difference, trust me.

18. Lastly, get enough sleep. I was so hopped up on not knowing ANYTHING and feeling like I was going to fail (seriously, I started reviewing my typed-up biochem notes at 1am the night before my exam) that I got only 2 (that's right, two) hours of sleep. This wasn't an issue for me though (I handle lack of sleep well). Even so, I started getting hit with drowsiness during the second half of my exam. So, try to give yourself enough time so you don't have to study too hard the night before, and so that you can feel like you're prepared and not worry too much.

Last words: Focus on ALL THINGS related to head and neck FIRST (including path, micro, etc. Diseases and organisms related to head and neck!). Screw the other parts of the body! Get to them only if you have time.
Don't procrastinate!
Study times vary from individual to individual. Some of my classmates studied for 2 weeks for 8 hours a day, some take a month or so. I have seen another SDN member say that he spent 1 week studying, but felt that it was 4 days too much! Be your own judge!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Good luck to anyone studying!
 
Sep 4, 2015
1
1
I can really relate to your studying methods and techniques. It took me about 4-5 weeks to cover the most important topics focusing on biochem/physio. Your exam also sounds alot like the one I took a few weeks ago. Unfourtunately i still haven't recieved my results yet! Hoping for the best!
 
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Reactions: drtoothache87
Oct 14, 2015
21
3
Status
Dental Student
It's a huge load off to read your experiences. I just started studying for the exam a week ago, and I'm writing in hopefully around the end of November or December. I've got Dental Decks from 2009 and the First Aid. I'm also using lectures from Youtube and using wikipedia for some things here and there.

Zeero8, did you get your results?
 

lost and found

7+ Year Member
Jul 2, 2009
6
1
Karachi, Pakistan
Status
Dental Student, Dentist
Hi! First of all congratulations in clearing the exam! Can you give us an update? Its been 2 years since you gave the exam.. what was the next step?


Hi everyone,

I passed my NBDE Part 1 and would like to share my experience with everyone. While studying, I searched long and wide for experiences regarding the exam, but most experiences were pretty old (before the exam was P/F) or from international students.
I am a US student who took the exam after my first year during our summer off. We do not take biochem at our school, and we also have not taken oral pathology. I'm just going to make a list of my thoughts about the sections, tips, and the materials I used in no particular order.

Before I start: I will not share specific questions, and I do not have any material to share or sell. And remember that this is my personal experience. Exams always vary!

1. Materials used: I used the 2009-2010 dental decks that I borrowed from a friend. I also downloaded the Dental Boards Mastery NBDE Part 1 app from the App Store for $60. In addition, I also did the 2013-2014 dental decks testlet, as well as released exams M and N.
- I did not like the dental decks at all. They were very disorganized with lots of info packed into the back of the card. They were also riddled with mistakes that luckily, my friend had already gone through and corrected. The questions on the decks were also not representative of the actual exam. Having said that, I DO believe that the decks are enough to pass the exam. If you know them in and out, the exam will be easy. I did not use First Aid, but if I had to do this all over again, I would give First Aid a look.
- I loved the DBM app. It was totally worth the money. The app takes released exam questions and puts it in such a user friendly interface, and I'll be honest - they made it a little fun. They had great mnemonics (pick and choose - some weren't very good). You can tell the creators put a lot of effort into creating the app.
With each question you answer, there is an explanation that follows. You can mark which ones you know, maybe's, and don't know's. I highly recommend that you take a look at it. They also offer it in the Google Play store as well. I will definitely be using DBM Part 2 when the time comes.
If you know your stuff already, I think studying from this app alone is enough. Personally, I think this app is a great tool, but should not be the primary tool.
I had about 5 repeats from the app on my exam.
The app creators also have a 200% money back guarantee if you fail. And from what I've heard and seen, they have great customer service so they will be willing to honor it. (No, I am not a creator nor do I have anything to gain by saying this!).
- Doing 1 round of dental deck testlets is a very wise decision. It gives you an idea of the types of questions, and the format. I thought the 13-14 testlet was a decent representative (not spot-on) of the testlet questions I encountered on my exam.
- I didn't complete any released exams. I did about 3/4 of one and I scored around 70%. As I said, the DBM app had old questions and so I encountered quite a few old questions on the two released exams.
The actual exam is HARDER than the released exams.

2. The exam is not that bad if you know your stuff. I still walked out feeling pretty horrible, but apparently, over 90% of first time test takers pass, and most everyone feels like they failed when they walk out. As mentioned before, decks are totally sufficient to pass.

3. The majority of the questions on the exam are straight forward (not exhibiting any trickery as I have seen mentioned on other threads...). I would say about 70-80% of the questions are straightfoward questions, such as, "What cranial nerve innervates this structure?" So don't feel afraid when you see other threads mentioning tough second order questions!

4. I found that I had less anatomy than expected. The anatomy that I did have was mostly head and neck. I had around 10 questions relating to other extremities. I don't remember having any about anything below the abdomen. From the questions I got, I think I overstudied for anatomy. Nerves and blood supply/drainage are easy questions to get right.

5. I had more biochem/physio questions than expected. Lots of questions related to enzymes and amino acids, so know those, if anything! I had a lot of questions related to the respiratory system, and the renal system. I had a quite few questions related to other parts of the body (bones, cardiovascular, a few questions related to the reproductive system).

6. When studying, I skipped over anything related to the reproductive system, as well as bone anatomy (and a few other sections on top of that). If you have certain amount of time to study, you need to pick your topics wisely! Also remember this exam is P/F, with the number 60-65% of the questions right being thrown around.

7. I was severely under prepared for micro and path, as I very briefly went over the cards because I ran out of time. I left this section for last because this is the most variable section. They can ask about any disease or organism, and it may not have been on the cards! I tried memorizing the important bacteria and viruses and their characteristics. I really think I wasted my time trying to memorize the minute details. There were SO many tables in the decks with characteristics of each organism, it was wayyyy too much. As soon as I saw most of the tables, I just wanted to give up on the whole section.
Path was a complete wash - too many diseases, too many disorders that I was not interested in. I would recommend knowing hormone related diseases, things related to neoplasms, and blood and kidney disorders.

8. There were quite a few questions that were mind boggling. I didn't even know what they were trying to ask, or they weren't specific enough. These, however, were far and few.

9. In terms of question format, the large majority was question and answer and "which is NOT" questions. I had NO questions in the format of "the two statements are true and related, etc." and only a few questions where I was required to "select all that apply". I think I had 2 T/F questions.

10. Dental anatomy and occlusion was definitely the easiest section. This section is pretty much a gimme, so know your anatomy and occlusion. I had a few questions related to tooth abnormalities. Know morphology of primary teeth, know eruption ages, calcification stages, all that jazz. They are easy questions to get right!

11. The decks I used had pictures of teeth to identify. This is not the case in the new exam. There were no occlusion pictures, no anatomy pictures.

12. I had about 7-8 testlets that were split with my 1 hour lunch break. The testlets encompassed ALL the subjects, and consisted of 7-10 questions each, most of which were head and neck related.

13. I took the entire time. The first half, I didn't have enough time to review all my marked questions (and I had a lot). The second half, I was just too tired to care, but I still left with only 5 minutes left. :p Time was NOT an issue though. You have 3.5 hours for each half, and only 200 questions to answer. I finished with plenty of time left, it was reviewing the questions I was unsure of that took the most time.

14. Read the ethics cards in the decks. Very easy points, and there are only about 15 cards.

15. There is a question breakdown of the exam on the ADA website (just Google it - it's in the NBDE part 1 guide). I actually think that the breakdown is an estimate of what you will see on the exam. I recall having only 3 ethics questions when the breakdown says there will be 4. But I could be recalling incorrectly. Regardless, it is still a good tool for time management, to see which sections you should be spending more time on.

16. My exam results took 2.5 weeks to reach my home. I'd say give them 2-4 weeks to score your exam.

17. In terms of studying, I went through the decks and made bullet-point notes on my laptop of things I didn't know. I borrowed the decks, so I could not write on them. This was my method of studying, and it took quite a while to get through cards I didn't know. This is part of the reason why I could not get to the micro/path cards (I underestimated the amount of time I would need to get through the decks).

17. I gave myself 5 weeks to study for this exam, but due to my nature, I didn't start "seriously" studying until about 2 weeks beforehand. At 1.5 weeks, I started freaking out and was doing 8+ hours a day, a week beforehand, I was doing 10-16 hours. The fear of failing drove me crazy! I am a good test taker, but I am NOT a good studier, and I do not handle the stresses of studying for standardized exams well at all. I suffered emotionally while studying for the DAT, and it was no different this time. But I had the support of so many people around me - classmates, friends, significant other, and I even reached out to my brother (we do not do this "emotional support" thing at all). Give yourself plenty of time to study for this exam so you don't suffer like I did! I was thinking about rescheduling, but my own schedule did not allow for that. After having taken the exam, I do NOT regret it. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I started enjoying my last summer off (the last one until I retire!).
Surround yourself by positive people and people who believe in you!!! :) It makes a huge difference, trust me.

18. Lastly, get enough sleep. I was so hopped up on not knowing ANYTHING and feeling like I was going to fail (seriously, I started reviewing my typed-up biochem notes at 1am the night before my exam) that I got only 2 (that's right, two) hours of sleep. This wasn't an issue for me though (I handle lack of sleep well). Even so, I started getting hit with drowsiness during the second half of my exam. So, try to give yourself enough time so you don't have to study too hard the night before, and so that you can feel like you're prepared and not worry too much.

Last words: Focus on ALL THINGS related to head and neck FIRST (including path, micro, etc. Diseases and organisms related to head and neck!). Screw the other parts of the body! Get to them only if you have time.
Don't procrastinate!
Study times vary from individual to individual. Some of my classmates studied for 2 weeks for 8 hours a day, some take a month or so. I have seen another SDN member say that he spent 1 week studying, but felt that it was 4 days too much! Be your own judge!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Good luck to anyone studying!
 
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