Taking the NBDE Part 1? Here are some tips to help you!

  • cover

Hey there! How’s your preparation going for the NBDE Part 1? The vast syllabus of basic sciences could seem overwhelming. In this blog, I will be sharing some tricks that helped me to pass Part 1. I will be focusing on general information about the exam, my preparation strategy, and tips that were helpful to me.

The NBDE Part 1 exam comprises 400 questions: 80% are stand-alone questions, while 20% test different clinical scenarios. It is conducted in two three and a half hour sessions with a one-hour optional break in between. NBDE part 1 exam covers basic sciences, including:

  1. Anatomic Sciences
  2. Biochemistry
  3. Physiology
  4. Microbiology
  5. Pathology
  6. Dental Anatomy
  7. Occlusion

The NBDE Part 1 is a pass/fail exam. A candidate’s total score is computed using the total number of correct answers selected by the candidate. The total score is then converted to a scale score. Candidates who achieve a standard score of 75 or higher get the “pass” status.


Materials you will need

a stack of books referencing to the plethora of available study materials

A wide variety of preparation material is available in the market. I would advise to stick to one and supplement it with other materials. Facebook groups can help you with discussing questions and downloading some compiled notes by other candidates. YouTube videos about occlusion and dental anatomy are resourceful as well. Here are the books and materials which I used to study for NBDE Part 1:

  1. First Aid For The NBDE Part 1

It is the one-stop NBDE preparation book, written by students who have aced the exam. The book carries an introduction regarding how to utilize this book, some tips for preparation and what to expect on the exam day. It is a concise review for the exam, containing hundreds of high-yield facts and mnemonics, and more than 200 photos and illustrations. The book offers what-to-study guidance for the most frequently tested topics in anatomic sciences, biochemistry and physiology, microbiology and pathology, and dental anatomy and occlusion.


  1. Dental Decks

Dental Decks for Part 1 is probably the most sought-after study material containing more than 1000 flashcards covering all subjects. The flashcards come with a test booklet containing case studies helping you acquaint yourself with the exam format.


  1. ASDA Released Question Papers

Available on the official website of ASDA, NBDE reprints are considered a must-have by students. These reprints help you to correlate your theoretical knowledge with case-based questions and also help you in acquainting yourself to the exam format.


  1. Dental Boards Mastery App

Dental Boards Mastery App for NBDE Part 1 provides review questions, practice quizzes, sample tests, progress tracking, and more to help you acquaint with the exam pattern. The advantage of this resource is that it can be easily solved anywhere since you can download it on your mobile phone.


An effective combination of the resources above will provide you with more than enough knowledge to ace the exam. How to choose the best base material? It is a much-individualized choice. See what works for you!


Tips for preparing for the exam

a girl holding a pen in her mouth, studying for an exam

Many candidates ask me when did I start preparing for the exam. Me personally, I started preparing in the last six months of my internship. I used to solve the questions on the Dental Boards Mastery App daily. I studied for one hour a day for six months and about 4 hours a day within two months after my internship and then took the exam. Again, you could need more or less time to prepare depending on many factors. Give yourself enough time to revise and practice past papers.

Staying focused towards your goal needs commitment and hard work. Here are some tips that helped me ace the exam:

  1. Creating a study schedule kept me on track. I used to challenge myself each day to study more than the previous.
  2. Sometimes, I would partner up with a classmate who was studying for the same exam. This helped us both to stay dedicated. Besides that, we tested each other frequently.
  3. Start early! You must have enough time to go through the syllabus at least twice.
  4. Test and time yourself frequently.
  5. Make your own handwritten notes. Consolidate all your material in one place.
  6. Familiar subjects are helpful when starting. Commencing your preparation is a daunting task! I recommend starting with an easy subject which helps you to enjoy your study and stay focused. Dental Anatomy and Microbiology are usually the best choices for a start.
  7. Divide your goals into daily, weekly and monthly basis.
  8. Recreation is important too. Have an active lifestyle. I used to play a sport for an hour each day while preparing.


The preparation isn’t easy, but also it’s not impossible. Cut out on distractions and remind yourself of your goal each day. It’s an exam, not the end of the world, so don’t panic. Be sincere, and you shall surely get a ‘Pass’ on your scorecard. Enjoy the journey!


By |October 26th, 2018|Testing Phase|6 Comments


  1. Pratiksha November 26, 2019 at 3:39 am - Reply

    Thank you for your positive guidance..It will definitely help me.

    • Sherry Astorga November 26, 2019 at 5:33 am - Reply

      You’re welcome. We’re happy to hear that you find it helpful!

  2. Shreya April 11, 2019 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Thank you!this will be very helpful

    • Christ Barcenas April 12, 2019 at 12:27 am - Reply

      Thanks for your feedback, happy to know you find it helpful!

  3. Sahib October 29, 2018 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the good tips. 😀

    • Christ Barcenas October 30, 2018 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      Hope you found them helpful!

Leave a Reply

Get Our Free Course . . .

Getting into Advanced Standing Programs

A 10 Day Email Course that Will Give You the Insights You Need to Become a US Dental Student
Sign Up
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.