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Find or create a study group to help you prepare for the NBDHE.

It's NBDHE time! Here's how you can prepare and pass

April 23, 2024
Exams can be stressful. Here are some great ideas to help you stay focused, calm, and retain what you've learned as you prepare for and take the NBDHE.

Passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) is a big step in any hygienist’s career, and it can be intimidating. Comprised of three sections designed to test your understanding and knowledge of hygiene science, clinical services, and community health and research, the NBDHE makes it possible to attain your hygiene license.

One of the best ways to combat test anxiety is to ensure you’re as prepared as possible. You should familiarize yourself with the test format and anticipate test questions, but that’s just for starters. Here are a few other tips to help make your NBDHE journey as seamless as possible.

Before the exam: Cultivate good study habits

Advanced preparation is crucial in a good hygiene career, so set yourself up for success from the get-go by preparing well in advance of exam day. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your practice tests or read your lecture notes; regular, structured review of the material is key.

Hygiene is an active, ever-evolving clinical discipline, and your study techniques should reflect those attributes. Instead of reading and rereading textbooks and lecture notes, try active learning techniques. Invent your own mnemonic devices, craft your own study guides and tools, and draw your own flow charts. The act of producing these unique study tools will further cement the content in your brain, making exam day that much easier. 

Practicing with mock tests is another excellent study technique. You could take this one step further by drawing up your own mock test. Swap yours with a colleague’s test to get even more of a study boost.

Speaking of colleagues, studying doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Find or form a study group to better grasp difficult concepts. Talking through challenging questions with friends can help you better understand the concepts, whether you’re the one asking the question or explaining the answer. 

Cultivating solid study habits well in advance of exam day will pay off exponentially.

Day of the exam: Relax and trust yourself

After weeks, or even months, of preparation, exam day is finally here. Make things easy on yourself by putting a plan in place early. Set out your test-taking materials and equipment, know your route to the exam center, and arrive early.

Prioritize sleep and mental well-being, and further prepare your body with a healthy breakfast. As you sit down to take the exam, remember that you’ve studied hard. You’ve put in the work. Take a deep breath, trust yourself, and let your hard work show. 

If you get stumped on any questions, move on, and come back to those later. You don’t want to get stuck in one place, and chances are, if you let your brain solve other problems, you’ll find the tough question much easier when you come back to it.

After the exam: Recharge and get ready

Congratulations, you did it! Once the NBDHE is behind you, give yourself time to recharge and reflect. How did it go? What questions did you find easy? What questions did you find difficult? Why? Note any challenging concepts and fill in learning gaps by talking with colleagues or your study group. 

Taking the NBDHE is a huge milestone, and you should take the time to celebrate. Additionally, you should start preparing your licensure application so you can hit the ground running when your NBDHE results are released. Get your resumé ready, collect your letters of recommendation, and make sure your necessary licensure prerequisites are in order. 

Remember: the NBDHE is a huge step, but it’s only the first in a long and exciting career of advances.

Lay the foundation for a solid career

As you close the book on your NBDHE experience, be sure to pay it forward. Share what worked for you with your colleagues and upcoming hygiene cohorts.

Take the time to relish your personal growth and know that the study habits you worked so hard to cultivate will serve you well in your hygiene career. Hygiene is all about lifelong learning, and with solid study skills in place, you’ll be well positioned to provide the best possible care for your patients for a long time to come.