Written Exams (Parts I)
The item writers, examination committee members, and staff of the National Board devote a considerable amount of time to ensure that the examination items are written in a clear, direct, and straightforward manner, such that being "test-wise" is not an advantage and having "too much knowledge" is not a disadvantage. This web site is designed to help candidates prepare for the examinations without the preoccupation of "psyching out" the test. Nonetheless, there are certain mechanics of test taking that should be utilized by all candidates.
For its written examinations, the National Board recommends three test-taking strategies to candidates. Use of these strategies will increase the likelihood of candidates' test scores being representative of their subject matter achievement, and less a function of their ability to take a test.
1. The examinations are timed tests, and proctors have been directed to adhere strictly to the time limits. Therefore, candidates should not spend an excessive amount of time on any one item that they find to be exceedingly difficult. Instead, items that are found to be exceedingly difficult and/or time consuming should be temporarily skipped so that easier items may be answered. After completion of the easier items, candidates should return to the items that they initially found too difficult. This will help ensure that the time limit does not expire before some candidates have had the opportunity to respond to a significant number of items.
2. Since scores are a function of the number of correct items, candidates should take care to select the appropriate number of responses for each item. NOTE: Part I-ABS contains both single-response and multiple-response multiple choice items. Items are scored as completely correct or incorrect. There is NO partial credit.
3. The National Board scores answer sheets, not test booklets, yet surprisingly, some examinees proceed through a test by indicating the correct responses in the test booklet and then transcribing these responses to the answer sheet at the end of the examination session. This strategy is not in the candidate's best interest for two reasons. First, the examination time limits have not made allowance for transcribing answers from the test booklet to the answer sheet. Thus, candidates who may have responded to every item, but who may not have had sufficient time to transcribe their responses to the answer sheets, may be scored as if the responses were not recorded on the answer sheet. This is a totally unnecessary risk for any candidate to take. Second, candidates who have correctly answered the items in their test booklets run the risk of making significant transcription errors. Since the answer sheet is the only scorable document, the risk of transcription error also is totally unnecessary.
If the time limit expires before a candidate completes transcribing answers to the answer sheet, Board policy PROHIBITS scoring test booklet responses. Therefore, it is not in candidates' best interests to be in this situation. As another reminder, be sure to record all answers directly on the answer sheet.
In summary, all candidates are advised to skip excessively difficult and/or time consuming items until they have completed the balance of the examination, at which time they should refer back to these initially difficult items. Candidates may highlight key words and write down computations and notes in their test booklets; for difficult items in which the correct response is not known, candidates also may note in the test booklet which options they can eliminate as incorrect. However, it is totally inadvisable for candidates to record their responses in the test booklet for subsequent transcription to the answer sheet.
Part III - Clinical Skills
The Part III-Clinical Skills Examination is administered under time constraints in order to accommodate the hundreds of candidates who need to be evaluated. In preparing for this examination, the National Board recommends practice. This web site contains all of the evaluation forms that are used to assess candidate performance. Candidates may print and photocopy these forms and use them for practice. Practicing within the 30-minute station groupings with a variety of patients, or perhaps with other candidates, is recommended also.
Additional Information for Practitioners. Experienced practitioners taking this test section should give particular attention to its process (not product) orientation. Adherence to the protocol listed on the evaluation forms is strongly recommended, as this is an entry-level examination.
(Mutiple-choice computer-based tests)
Strategies 1-2 for written multiple-choice tests are equally applicable to computer-based tests. In addition, familiarity with the format and mechanics of the test, which are very important for optimal performance, can be obtained from practicing the tutorial. To review the tutorial, click here.