After finishing (and passing) Part 1 National Boards you feel completely drained. You never want to study ever again, because those 6 tests in one day took everything out of you. Although your brain is feeling like absolute mush, you gain a new sense of accomplishment and pride. Part 1 takes a lot of hard work and dedication to pass, so you should feel proud of yourself for tackling it head on!
In order to become a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic you have to pass 4 national boards exams as well as a physical therapy exam, x-ray exam, and jurisprudence exam testing your state’s laws and rules. Part 1 occurs about half way through your chiropractic college career. Parts 2 & 3 occur in your last few months before graduation. In the mean time, there are still a plethora of important tests and milestones to hit.
Applying for Part 2 & 3
In order to apply for Parts 2 & 3, you have to have completed specific classes as well as comply with your school’s own clinical requirements. Make sure you have everything finished well before the application deadline.
This part consists of 6 exams, 90 multiple choice questions each on these clinical sciences:
- General diagnosis
- Neuromusculoskeletal diagnosis
- Diagnostic imaging
- Principles of chiropractic
- Chiropractic practice
- Associated clinical sciences
This part consists of 2 exams, 55 multiple choice questions and 5 vignettes each.
Addresses nine clinical areas:
- Case history
- Physical examination
- Neuromusculoskeletal examination
- Diagnostic imaging
- Clinical laboratory and special studies
- Chiropractic techniques
- Supportive interventions
- Case management
Each vignette consists of a full case and it is your job to diagnose and decide the appropriate case management. They provide a full history including vital signs, main complaint, onset of pain, radiation if any, family history, provocative and palliative factors, and anything else that is pertinent information for that diagnosis. Next, they will provide a small list of positive and negative orthopedic exams, palpation findings, and any neurological findings that are pertinent to the case. You may or may not be given pictures of X-Rays.
Following the history and exam findings, you will be faced with 3 questions. Each question consists of 8 answers and you have to choose the best 3. This is where things get tricky. Luckily, it’s not all or none. You do receive points for any correct answer you mark.
Study Plan for Part 2 & 3
Part 2 & 3 are typically taken on the same weekend and cover very similar information. Since there is a lot of overlapping information, it’s easy to study for both at the same time. Studying for Parts 2 & 3 is far different than studying for Part 1. Parts 2 & 3 is review from all of the classes you’ve taken thus far. You’ve seen all of this information before, now it’s time to apply it.
The major difference between Part 1 vs 2 & 3 is that Part 1 is a lot of recall. Since Part 1 is all the major sciences, it takes a lot of memorization and studying. Parts 2 & 3 are where you apply all of that knowledge. You can’t simply rely on word association. Questions are long, in depth, and are made to trick you. They could tell you everything about a disease in the question and now you have to decide the next step in management, treatment, associate signs/symptoms, possible sequelae, and/or referrals.
My biggest recommendations for prepping:
- Make a plan for which sections to study when
- Prioritize your time
- Be organized
At this point in your chiropractic college career, you have a lot more on your plate – clinic being number one. It makes studying for boards less of a priority. In all honesty, I only studied the week before the exam (not including attending board reviews). It was stressful. There is so much information to retain. Again, chiropractic college is a marathon and boards are huge hurdles thrown in the middle.
After you tackle Parts 2 & 3 (and pass!), CELEBRATE! Boards is completely draining. After taking 8 (possibly 9 including PT) ridiculous exams your body needs to rest. Go relax, eat some comfort food, and take a loooooooong nap – you deserve it!!