Let’s Talk Bench Test Prep
Bench test preparation is a stressful process for those candidates looking to take the exam, and rightly so. There’s a lot of material to cover, procedures to practice and perfect, and the rigorous standards demanded of those taking the exam in North America far exceed those that have been required of most U.S. dentists and international dentists. If you’re not worried, you may just not be taking bench test preparation seriously enough.
Agonizing over simple typodont and crown preparations aren’t typically things most dentists obsess over. This attitude is why 99% of bench test exam candidates perform poorly, despite their supposed knowledge, mastery, and experience working with the testing criteria. When preparing for an upcoming bench test, it’s of the utmost importance to let go of your preconceived notions and knowledge of ideal preparations and relearn from the bottom up. For these purposes, signing up for a bench test preparation course that’s tailored for candidates looking to outperform the field is the best place to start.
Choosing a Course For Bench Test Preparation
If you’ve decided it’s worth your time investment to commit to a course for updating your mastery and knowledge of dental procedures in preparation for the bench test, congratulations! You have the potential to make it into the top 1% of bench test candidates that outperform the rest on their bench test.
While looking for the perfect bench test course to prepare yourself for your upcoming bench test, you may have noticed a number of in-person must-thousand dollar week-long prep courses out there. As one of the most challenging and defining exams in your career as a dental practitioner, you’ll want to pick the best option for bench test preparation available. Ideally, this will be one that is accessible, manages your time effectively, and imparts a lasting knowledge of the material and skills necessary to perform well on the bench test.
Should I Pick an In-Person Course for Bench Test Preparation?
There are two main options that you can choose from: a live (in-person) course or an online course. As practitioners of dentistry, the knee-jerk reaction upon being presented with these choices will be to opt for a live course. After all, how could an online course possibly hope to compete with a live course in delivering the knowledge and meticulous skillset that it takes to learn the particulars of a 7/8th crown? Bench test grading is critical, with graders knowing exactly what distinguishes a perfectly performed procedure from a mimicry that has glaring errors to their trained eyes.
When I began helping Internationally trained dentists pass their bench tests in 2012, expensive in-person courses were the only types of courses available. In fact, the first bench test prep course I taught was a live in-person course; it seemed that was the only way to help candidates improve their hand-skills. Yet I just couldn’t help wonder if asking candidates to fly all the way across the country, spend lots of money on travel, hotels, late-night dinners, and multiple thousands in tuition, was really the only way for someone to get good at ideal preps. In truth, I started seeing many holes in the theory that in-person courses were really worth all the money and effort for every single candidate.
I Couldn’t Help Thinking There Had to be Another Way!
Enter a new idea: what if I could coach advanced standing candidates with their preps online, in the convenience of their own homes. Of course I thought the creation of bench test instructional videos would probably by helpful, but probably not enough. How could I also provide specific and personalized feedback to candidates on their recently finished preps to get them to the next level?
I imagined an alternate reality where candidates could simply stick their hands through their laptop screen and hand me their physical prep during a Skype session. But that wasn’t gonna happen anytime soon!
Then it came to me . . .
Digital cameras and smart phone cameras were getting better and cheaper every day. Each year, the latest smart phone came with a more incredible built-in camera, able to take exceptionally clear high definition images of even the micro grooves of an prepped tooth. What if my clients could take high definition images of their prep from various angles, and send me them to review?
And guess what? It worked!
Within months, I received word from my first few online Bench Test Mastery clients that they’d passed their bench tests and had been accepted at Loma Linda and University of Buffalo.
I was so excited!
I’m proud to say that International Dentist Central was the first to effectively provide Bench Test Preparation to advanced standing candidates, completely online, through our innovative feedback system.
Consider this: A live bench test preparation course will often be spread out over the duration of 3 to 14 days, with the average course spanning 7-10 days. During this condensed timeframe, students are expected to absorb all of the critical knowledge and perfect the skills they’ll be tested on for their bench test. With instructors shared amongst students, candidates often find they’re unable to ask all the questions they want and receive the personalized feedback they need to improve their work. Many students who have taken these courses in preparation for their bench test also find that the timespan they stretch across is often inadequate for practicing and achieving mastery over each testing criteria.
In conversations with students who attended in-person bench test preparatory courses, it was rare that everything they were supposed to learn in the duration of their course actually stuck with them, and unfortunately they unable to revisit the content without signing up for another course. This is why they eventually joined my online Bench Test Mastery course.
For a number of candidates, there’s a real danger in practicing on their own after a live course under the impression they’re performing everything to the highest standard, only to learn about their glaring errors with the results of a failed bench test (though most programs won’t even reveal what the specific errors were).
The Online Bench Test Preparation Edge
While we’ve established that in-person bench test preparatory courses can be powerful experiences with many candidates having learned a lot and improved greatly, for others, they can be inadequate in truly instilling the information and skills necessary to succeed by the time of their exam.
On the other hand, online courses are structured with the same knowledge and demonstrations that their live alternatives have. They’re also essentially the same length. For instance, our Bench Test Mastery has over 50 hours of content packed into the course, NOT including the your practice time (something that eats up a lot of a live course).
The key benefit with choosing an online bench test preparation course is the ability to revisit the material and knowledge base at your own pace, while practicing and reviewing each step as many times as you need. When you consider the fact that you’ll essentially be looking over the shoulder of an instructor at a live course or a distant screen while he or she is giving a demonstration, the merits of an online course really come alive: you simply can’t get as good of an angle as you can watching a high definition video on your laptop inches away from your face.
For example, with the IDC Bench Test Mastery you’ll have access to up-close, multiple angled camera viewed videos in an online format that can be paused, rewinded, and replayed as many times as you want until you’re satisfied. You’re also able to ask as many questions as you like, with the ability to upload high definition images of your work for review by an experienced ideal prep master that will be able to give you the necessary feedback to take your skillset to the next level for an entire year.
If you need more proof that an online bench test prep course can be truly effective, here’s something to consider: We’ve helped countless candidates get acceptances through our online bench test course. In 2016 alone, we sent numerous candidates to nearly every single Advanced Standing Program out there.
So the question I pose to the internationally trained dentist community is this:
If an Online Bench Test course works just as effectively for those that study consistently at home and practice hard, is it really worth the extra $3000-5000 extra you’ll be spending on a course, travel, lodging, meals, etc. that go with an in-person course?
Finding the Right Bench Test Preparation Course
There are a number of options out there for bench test candidates who are looking to prepare for their upcoming exam. I hope that I’ve given you at least some pause about rushing off to signup for a live in-person course just because you see everyone else talking about doing it. I also hope I’ve provided some encouragement that you have what it takes to progress rapidly in the comfort of your own home: if you so choose.
All the best with your preparations this year!
Dr. Alyssa Marshall