NBDE PART 1 – Advice and Resources

Hello all! If you are a reader of Denthusiast and are tuning into this article because you are taking the NBDE Part 1, welcome! Congrats on getting to this point in your education. I am aware that this exam is tough, preparing for it is tough, and it a monumental hurtle to be passed. BUT! Don’t you forget that if you have made it to this point, this is just an opportunity to prove all the hard work you have put into school and your career thus far. And you are lucky to have this opportunity and extremely capable of surpassing the obstacle, so you can get your hands on teeth! You can do this.

Note: I am aware that the Dental Board Examination System is changing from Part 1 and 2, to one exam, so this article is strictly geared towards the dental students left that are going to be taking part 1. I have no information or advice for the new national board exam. 


  1. Notes: my class had these incredible note packets that someone made, which were super concise and had all the details. They were broken into the 4 sections: anatomy, micro and path, dental anatomy and occlusion, and biochemistry and physiology. I went through one section, and then did practice questions on “the app” (explained below). I wish I had a way to upload these documents but I don’t! Other schools may have them, however, so if you do it looks like the screenshot below! ALTERNATIVES: First Aid NBDE PT 1 can be purchased and is a great review book, your own notes from your classes (I don’t recommend this, it is way too much information to go over in such little time, and the little details will be low yield), SketchyMirco for Mircobiology (this is created for medial students but if you run through it once and do practice questions you should be extremely prepared for micro, and it makes it fun!). Also ask upperclassman for resources; we had a lot of quizlets that were super useful!  Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 8.56.22 PM.png
  2. The App: hands down my favorite resource for practice questions. Most people I know ran through this app a bunch and it is so easy to do on the go! i.e. in line at the grocery store, while on a car ride, etc. Here is the link: https://builtbyhlt.com/dental/dental-boards-mastery-nbde1
  3. Dental Decks: We were given dental decks by our school, the digital version. I started to do them but ended up disliking the explanations and format. It wasn’t for me, but it might be something you like! Everyone is different, and many have succeeded by ONLY studying dental decks and practice tests. Check them out to see if you like them!
  4. Practice Tests: The most important resource!!! You just have to do practice tests, in my opinion. You will guage where you are at score wise, practice what it is like taking the test with randomized questions and timed, and you will be able to see your weaknesses and strengths. I did about 10 practice tests before my exam, and I reviewed my weak areas with each one. I felt more than prepared after this.
  5. Dental anatomy and occlusion: my dental anatomy and occlusion professor was incredible in providing us with resources to study, so unfortunately I don’t have a resource I can direct you to! He gave us practice sections with questions he had created, and I did these “drills” over and over, as well as reviewing my class notes. BUT CHECK OUT THESE VIDEOS:
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxgD7Zxu1XA&t=405s
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6UnG7gzscA&t=168s
    3. DENTAL ANATOMY 300 FACTS WILL NOT BE ENOUGH TO GET YOU THROUGH THIS SECTION. — Definitely know these by heart as a basis, but you will need to really know your stuff for this section of this exam, it is the most important. You can find these videos on youtube as well: Ace the dental boards, 300 facts.

Timeline: My school gave us a month and a half to take the boards, and I studied for 4 weeks. In April, I started to study lightly; I reviewed SketchyMicro, and started doing Dental Anatomy and Occlusion Drills. But when it came down to dedicated boards study, here is my calendar below. On the days, I did what I thought I had to do, whether it be going through notes and concepts, or practice questions. People have taken the test in less time, and some more. This is entirely up to you to figure out but if your time is managed right, anything is possible and can work. Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 9.17.01 PM.png

Day Before: All I did was run through some decks of flash cards to keep my mind fresh. It always makes me feel weird to not do anything, even though I knew I was ready.

Eat well. Nutritious foods go a long way!

Get your Prometric information, ID, snacks, and whatever else you need together


Best advice I can give you: 

— Take breaks: I took a two hour break through the day and it. gave. me. LIFE!!! Do what you need to do to power back up, whether it be a nap, a workout (highly recommend!!!), eat, watch Netflix, hang with friends and family, etc.


–Stay motivated. Do not say, “all I need to do is pass”, and then start to get lazy. Laziness can add up and come back to bite you. Put this first. Priority #1. You may be on summer break but your friends and family can wait. Do what you need to do to focus. I deleted my social media apps for the weeks of my crunch time, and did I truly miss anything? Nah. But I was incredibly productive! It was also a nice detox which lessened my anxiety!

— Sleep well! Recharging your brain is seriously one of the best things you can do, in order to not ruin your productivity and motivation the next day.

— Take one night off at least once a week! Be with family and friends and let yourself de-stress, and flood your mind with positive emotions.

If this applies to you)— Thank god for this opportunity every day you wake up! This is the prayer I say every morning, not just for this exam:




Enjoy the time you have now to breathe, because time flies and sooner or later you will be back to studying for something else and wished you had these moments to rest and enjoy life.

DISCLAIMER: this is just my experience, and everyone is different with varying study habits and time. Take from it what you will, I hope it helps 🙂 but figure out what works for YOU. 

Good luck!





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