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  • Writer's pictureLFaits

Countdown to Boards

The National Board Examiners In Optometry and the Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry exams were always a mystery to me. Until perhaps two months ago, all I knew was that I had to write some sort of exam that’s going to determine whether I get to practice my passion for the rest of my life. Although I’m Canadian, I chose to take the American boards to give myself more options when I graduate. Those of us taking the NBEOs begin the exam on March 19.

The most influential factor in my decision to come to ICO was the board exam pass rates. I scoured the internet forums, talked to optometry students, and went on program websites to understand how students from each school perform on board exams. ICO’s amazing pass rates were reason enough for me to brave the cold winters of Chicago. After all, the whole point of getting an optometric education is to achieve this one goal: obtain a license to practice optometry.

KMK NBEO Prep Course Most of us signed up for the KMK course. We got the books early, and some of us started reading the material and going over pre-course flashcards online to prepare for the review sessions. We have regular classes and clinic throughout the week, and we do KMK in school on the weekends for about seven hours a day. I wish I’d had the discipline to read more during our recent winter break, and now I find myself doing flashcards and reading the study guide during every spare in order to make up for lost time. Advice to future students: Don’t do what I did. It’s so hard to catch up, it really is. I’m glad we have our course this early–I think the review gave me a clearer idea of how to prepare. I think the best thing about KMK is that it ties together all the subjects we’ve learned, and applies it clinically so I finally see how every one of our classes fit into one big picture in optometry, and how they are each linked to one another. I highly recommend this course for those planning to take boards. It’s worth every penny.

ICO-Sponsored Preparations Our professors started discussing boards in November, introducing us to how the exam’s set up and helping us to create study schedules. We have a couple of review nights every week, and faculty members volunteer a couple hours of their time to review the materials we’ve learned. These sessions are recorded, so we can review as necessary. Although I can’t attend every session, I’ve gone as often as I can and found them to be extremely helpful. Could I have read materials on my own? Sure, and maybe the information will eventually come back to me, but I appreciate every bit of help I get from the faculty.

When it comes to studying on my own, I believe that my ability to retain information has been aided by the quality of education ICO provides. I dreaded studying for boards. There’s so much material, and I was scared to open up the first page of anything. I felt like I didn’t know where to begin. However, once I started actually studying, I was quite surprised at how much information I actually DID retain. The acronyms we’ve learned over the years stuck with me. When KMK and the professors go over material, I really feel like it’s more of a review, rather than learning material that I’ve completely forgotten. I think the hardest part of preparing for boards is persevering through the long weeks of seemingly endless amount of studying. Currently, candy and baked desserts are helping me get through this. We’ll see how I end up doing on the exam, but for now, beneath all my nerves, I’m pretty confident class of 2015 as a whole will do really well.


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