International dentists are required to pass the NBDE for them to be eligible to apply for advanced standing programs via CAAPID, complete the program and ultimately be able to practice as a licensed dentist in the United States. Preparing for the NBDE as an international dentist can be a daunting task since there are a lot of challenges that one has to face. Here are a few examples of these challenges and possible ways on how to overcome them:
Common challenges while preparing for the NBDE as an International Dentist
Challenge # 1: Tooth numbering system in the US
The tooth numbering system in the United States is different from most of the countries
The universal numbering system is used for numbering the teeth in the United States whereas most other countries use the FDI system. To get used to the universal system, I advise writing down the numbering scheme while you study and use it as your reference. During the exam, you always get sheets for note-making; utilize that and write down the scheme for reference. Another thing which I used to do while I was practicing dentistry in my home country was taking notes of the tooth in both universal and FDI system. This improved my recognition ability and it took less time to calculate the tooth number.
Challenge # 2 NBDE as an objective exam
Both parts of the NBDE are objective.
The dental curriculum of most countries involves subjective examination system which means that you have to explain the answer of the question. But the NBDE test your objective knowledge which means you will be asked to choose one answer among the four or five choices for each question. Getting used to the objective style of examination system takes time and practice. I recommend solving as many questions as possible to get the knack of it. Also, problem-based learning is more interesting in my opinion as it keeps your study momentum going. Another helpful tip is to get into the depth of all of the choices of each question. This way you can cover many topics from one question!
Challenge # 3: NBDE is computer-based
The NBDE is conducted on a computer.
You must be very thorough with using and playing around with a computer as the exams are conducted on computers at Prometric Test Centers throughout the United States. The exams are uploaded on the desktops 15 minutes prior to your examination’s starting time. I recommend taking a dry run at one of the Prometric Test Centers before you take your test. This will allow you to see the pattern of the exam and will also give you a clear picture of how the exam is going to take place. The exam environment can be a bit intimidating especially with other candidates taking their respective exams which is one of the reasons why I recommend taking a dry run. The dry run acquaints you with the environment and will provide you with an overview on what to expect during the exam day. Another thing, try practicing solving objective questions on your laptop/computer if possible. The Kaplan question bank can be a useful source for this as their exams have to be solved online, they are also timed and the answer explanations are very detailed.
Challenge # 4: Reasoning and logic for NBDE
The exam tests your reasoning and logic.
Although the exam does test your memorization skills, a major part of it also tests your reasoning and logic. There are case presentations with radiographs and photographs and you have to pick out the most optimum treatment option. Make sure you are not just doing rote learning; try to understand all the pieces of an entire concept or lesson. If you do that, your knowledge on a specific topic will be more active, constructive and long-lasting.
Preparing for the NBDE as an international dentist can be both an enlightening yet a nerve-wracking experience but it is certainly not an impossible task. You are already a dentist in your country; all you have to do is adapt your learning style a bit to a few new different techniques.
Hope this has been helpful but If you have any particular question, leave them on the comment section below we will be happy to answer!
Best of luck!