Boards. A word that brings instant anxiety to every chiropractic student. Starting chiropractic college is such a crazy journey. At Life West Chiropractic College, your first few quarters feel like a whirlwind of excitement. Your whole world gets smashed open and rebuilt as you venture into a lifestyle of vitalism and learning what it means to go back to what nature intended.
For the first year and a half (if you’re on the 14 quarter track), the majority of your class load is science based – anatomy, physiology, and the dreaded biochemistry. This is all preparing you for part one boards. To get licensed as a 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. It’s a lot. The majority of the tests happen in the last year of schooling, except part one.
Part one national boards takes place somewhere in your 5-8 quarter – depending on if you’ve taken the required classes and when the test falls in the year. This test consists of 6 90 question exams testing you on physiology, general anatomy, spinal anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, and pathology. It’s definitely a rough 10 hour day of testing. So, here are my top tips on preparing for the long and stressful part one experience:
- Make and stick to a study schedule – With all of the things you’re already involved in including regular classes and trying to have a life, it’s so important to make time in your schedule to study for boards. For example, pick one section each week and read it over for at least an hour each night that week.
- Take board reviews – This is totally personal preference, but for me and my busy schedule and already established study habits, I needed this time to really solidify things. Plus, Dr. Donofrio is incredible and teaches you not only how to get through all the material, but he makes sense of it and connects the dots. He also teaches little clinical pearls and some adjusting moves. I know 4 hours of board reviews are the last thing you want to do after after 10 hours of class, but they’re so worth it and they seriously fly by.
- Retain the routine – If you have a workout routine, keep it. It’s so important for your health and sanity to stay active, especially with added stress. Your nutrition is also vital especially in times of stress. If you hadn’t cared about what you were putting in your body before – now is the time to start caring. Fuel your body and your brain with lots of healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and nuts; organic fruits and veggies; and organic protein like grass fed beef, chicken, and eggs.
- Skip class the week of (whoops!) – Okay, take this recommendation with a grain of salt. This is honestly the reason why I felt so confident going into boards. The week of boards, 3 other friends and I went to a local cafe for 10 hours 2 days in a row and studied all day. It was pretty terrible, but everything came together and put me more at ease walking into boards.
The day before the exam
A lot of people will tell you not to look at any material the day before, but I say do whatever will make you feel most confident and not cause more stress. 3 friends and I posted up at a cafe in the morning and went through each section for only an hour per subject. When the timer went off, even if we didn’t get though everything in that section, we were done and moved on to the next. At 2:00, we called it. I went to go get a massage then went out to a nice dinner with friends. Go to bed as early as you can so you can get ample sleep. If your mind is still racing with words and concepts, jot them down on a piece of paper and leave it alone.
The day of the exam
- Bring LOTS of healthy snacks the day of the exam. Try to stay away from grains, instead bring foods packed full of healthy fats to feed your brain. Some examples would be whole milk yogurt with fresh fruit, almond butter with celery or apple slices, avocado with salt, hard boiled egg, carrots with hummus, string cheese, and walnuts.
- You’ll have about 20 minutes between each exam, and I would recommend lightly glancing at the section for the next test but try not to stress over something you don’t know because that is not the time to learn something new.
- Wear something comfortable. It’s going to be a very long day, so dress accordingly.
Post part one
TIME TO CELEBRATE!!! At the end of the testing day, you’re probably going to be wiped and feel like your brain is mush – so go treat yourself to a yummy dinner and maybe even a few drinks!! YOU DESERVE IT!! You won’t get your scores for about 6 weeks and try not to stress over them. If you put the time and hard work in, be proud of yourself!! You tried your best and should be proud of yourself even if you don’t pass a section or two. And trust me, nobody asks you what your scores were. All that matters is that you PASSED.