How To Study For National Boards

I get asked all the time how to study for the National Board Exam. I like things in black and white myself and wondered if there was a secret recipe to passing that exam when I took it. So here is what I figured out, and what I tell those who are looking for guidance.

I recommend studying the way that you usually study to get and “A” on an exam.  For advanced planners, like myself, I recommend studying in advance. For those that are crammers, I recommend... cramming.

Studying In Advance

For a regular exam, I had to read the chapters each 2-3 times, then review with my study group/myself the review questions 2-3 weeks in advance. I would make a study schedule to pace myself.

For the National Board, I did the same. I was scheduled to take the exam at the end of March so I made myself a study schedule that started in January. Each week I scheduled myself a topic to review and that process took about 2 months time. For the last month, I practiced test questions from the back of each chapter in the study book I used and any other practice questions that I could get a hold of. I, personally, have a little test anxiety and really had to learn to read through questions thoroughly. I would also look at the answers and find out what would have made those the correct answers.

The last week before the exam I didn’t do any studying. I figured that if I didn’t know it then, I wasn’t going to.


Now if you are a crammer, I recommend cramming. Check into a hotel or lock yourself in your room the weekend before. Get lots of healthy food and study until you drop. If you like to study as a group, invite some friends. You may also want to consider using a board review course as your “cram” session.

Hybrid Version

If you like portions of the above options, consider mixing them to meet your needs. Whatever you choose, make a plan and stick to it. 

What Sources To Use

I would recommend looking at all of the options and seeing what is the best for you and limiting it to 1-3 of those. Otherwise, it gets overwhelming. Consider that you will want them to be thorough and you want it to have practice questions with explanations as well.  Below are a few of the options*:

Mosbys Book

Saunders Review Book

Kaplan Book

Dex Cards 

Pass it App

Board review class

(*Hygiene Edge is not affiliated with any of the above options.)

Study as you go

Last is to do well in your current classes. Consider that with each class you take, you are studying for the board. Those who usually fail are those who didn’t do well in their classes in the first place or those who chose just to “wing” the exam and don't study anything. If you can get at least “B’s” in your classes and study some, you have very high chances of success. Best of luck- now go study!

Let us know in the comments what you used to study from for your National Board Exam.