What can you do to maximize your chances of succeeding at your national dental hygiene board examinations (NDHCE, NBDHE)? Here are 5 strategies that have proven to work with students I mentored at StudentRDH. Practice those 5 strategies described above with school exams, until they become part of your regular test taking habit. If you are able to do so, you will do fantastic on your big day!
1. Find the key words in the question (at all cost)
Detectives require clues to solve a case, and so do we. Those clues are presented as keywords in the exam questions. The keywords do not have to be necessarily difficult (e.g., verrucas vulgaris) and can be any verb, noun, adjective, or adverb.
How can keywords help us? By making us focus on what the question statement is trying to achieve and muting the background noise that distracts you from properly understanding the true meaning of the question. Also, questions are made by humans who intentionally or unintentionally leave you hints. So identify those hints, and let them lead you to the correct answer.
Strategy: Find 1-5 key words in the question even if you have to read the question again and again. Then circle those words and focus your attention on the purpose of those words.
2. Slow the Hxxx down
When you have just learned a new language, you usually take the time to understand each word and comprehend the meaning of sentences. Questions in your exam deserve the same amount of attention. We all have the natural tendency to rush through the exam, being concerned about not finishing on time. As a result, our mind let our eyes skip words that could be the critical clues leading to the correct answer. Rushing through questions in the exam is like building a car without thoroughly reading the instructions.
Strategy: SLOW DOWN. Statistics show that the majority of students finish the exam before the given time in the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam (NDHCE, NBDHE). Therefore, there is no need to rush!
3. When you see words such as “NOT,” “EXCEPT,” or “FALSE” in the question, play the TRUE or FALSE game
Have you ever made the mistake of not paying enough attention to the “NOT,” “EXCEPT,” or “FALSE” in the question and selected a “correct” statement when you were supposed to select an “incorrect” statement? We all have experienced this at some point. In fact, this is one of the most common mistakes that test takers make.
Why is this mistake so commonly made? It is because the majority of exam questions are about detecting the “correct” answer. So naturally, your brain is trained to recognize and to choose a correct statement.
Strategy: Force yourself to answer TRUE of FALSE for each answer choice, and find the one FALSE statement.
4. If you are unsure about a question, make a guess, mark the question to review later, and move forward
For the NBDHE, NDHCE and regional boards, selecting the wrong answer does not count against you. Since there are 4 or 5 answer choices for each question, your guess has a 20-25% chance of being correct!
Also, it is psychologically proven that when you start struggling, your confidence level goes down. Do not let the negativity affect your performance, and carry on with your positive attitude.
Strategy: Do not waste time on questions you have trouble answering because spending more time will not solve the problem. Instead, make a guess and move forward.
5. Review your answers before submitting the exam using the “rewind” strategy
At the end of each section, before you submit your exam, use the “rewind” strategy to double check your answers. Our ability to focus is usually high in the beginning and gradually diminishes as the exam progresses. As a result, we are more likely to make mistakes towards the end of the exam. The REWIND strategy allows you to pay attention to questions that may have been overlooked.
Strategy: Start reviewing the very last question of the entire section first and work backward (e.g., #200, #199, #198 and so on).
(Disclaimer: StudentRDH is NOT affiliated with the NBDHE, NDHCE, CSCE, CDCA, WREB.)