Passing Your Boards
Have you ever wondered what exactly you need to do to pass the boards the first time?
Based on our experience in helping students successfully pass their exam, TCMtests.com has the four KEYS to success in passing the boards the FIRST time.
There are four steps to passing your boards.
1. Develop a Study Plan 2. Identify Weak Areas 3. Use Repetition 4. Use Our Advice
STEP ONE - Develop a Study Plan
We recommend starting your studies at least 3 months prior to the exam. Do not wait. Spend 3+ hours per day six days per week. The last six weeks before the exam, is the most intense time for learning. Use this time to review/refresh your knowledge while developing self confidence in all the test items you know. Focus only on pure review the last 2 days before the exam. On the two days prior to the exam simply review material that has already been learned, rather than trying to remember new facts.
Part of developing a study plan is to choose the right study aids/tools. How do you decide? Is it up to date? We think the most important factor is to choose a study tool that has a proven published track record of success. Does the study tool have comprehensive reviews on every topic area? Does the study tool allow you to personalize your study program and create your own tests based on your own criteria?
Develop a study schedule and stick to it. Being able to practice acupuncture depends on it! The better prepared you are, the easier it will be to remain confident.
Things you should think about:
A. Study at the same time each day if possible. If you're a morning person study in the morning, afternoon study in the afternoon, etc. But everyone should review once before you go to bed (so your brain has time to think about it until you sleep).
B. Set checkpoints/short-term goals for oneself. (e.g., I will have reviewed/taken at 80% level half of the TCM tests Foundations by end of week 6.)
C. Don't devalue your abilities. Believe in yourself.
STEP TWO - Identify Weak Areas
If you are not already done so, download the NCCAOM or the California test content outlines depending upon which exam you are taking. TCMtest.com uses the official outlines and divides content areas into reviewable or study areas. Go to TCMtests.com to those areas corresponding to the content outline. As we keep track of your scores you can you can identify your strengths and weaknesses in each of the main areas of the content outline. The historical results will provide information on your progress among weak and strong areas and on which areas you need to focus on.
If you are taking the National exam you need to understand the nature of CAT (Computer Adaptive Testing). CAT works by first asking you a series of questions which the computer program ranks in terms of difficulty and topic area. If you answer an easy question on a topic, the program might ask you a more difficult question on the same topic. If you fail to answer an easy question or repeatedly answer wrong on a particular topic, then the CAT program will keep presenting questions on that topic. For example, one student took the NCCAOM acupuncture exam and the CAT program repeatedly asked questions on channel theory, one area of study the student did not focus on. As a result the student failed the exam.
Also, do not assume that you know a particular area well, so you don't spend any time on it. You must know all the content areas of the exam. For example, some students may spend little time in reviewing point categories or point locations, thinking they know those topics very well. However, the actual exam might pose a question of one of those content areas in a unique and unexpected way tripping up the test taker.
Whether you are taking California or National exams TCMtests.com recommends 60% of your study time on weak areas, 20% on average areas, and 20% on strong areas. Make up your own tests and review only what you need with the TCMtests.com iTest.
STEP THREE - Use Repetition
We recommend repeating each test you take on TCMtests.com until you get an average score of 80%. According to our research scoring an average of 80% in each review area and comprehensive tests dramatically increases the odds of passing the boards. To help monitor your progress, TCMtests.com provides an historical record of your progress in both numerical and graphic form.
While repetition is important, we strongly recommend the use of TCMtests.com to deepen your understanding of Oriental Medicine. In other words, don't use TCMtests.com just for the sake of taking and passing our tests. Instead, make it your goal to expand your knowledge base by looking up the source book when you get a question wrong. Try to understand the reason why you got it wrong. Don't just repeat the test to memorize the right answer, so that the next time you take the test you get that question right. Look up the reference to learn why you got the answer wrong.
You need to answer a lot of questions not only to learn the material but also to improve your test taking skill. That is, you need to practice and develop your inductive and deductive reasoning mind by carefully reading and answering many questions. Test taking skills require reading and re-reading the question until you completely understand what it is asking. Then try out each distracter to see if it fits. Cross out all the wrong answers you are sure about. Then try out the remaining answers to see which one is best. It is like building your test muscle by repetition.
STEP FOUR - Use Our Advice
TCMtests.com makes available to our board subscribers the trends we have identified in both the National and California exam. We publish this information at the top of each board menu page. Familiarize yourself with the content of at least the last two testing cycles. We publish our advice two times per year. This feedback contains invaluable clues on what trends and areas of study you need to focus on. Knowing this feedback can make the difference between passing and failing.