Facing the NAVLE

Posted on by Jennifer Wolf

It all comes down to this.   The knowledge from four intense years of study, summed up in one terrifying day (seven hours to be exact) of multiple choice examination.  Ready, set, go!

I have wanted to be a veterinarian since I can remember first being asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Twenty-something years later, here I am, six months away from graduation; a lifetime of dedication to get here, over $100,000 in debt, and there is one more hurdle to cross before I can finally call myself a doctor — the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE).

This certainly isn’t the first standardized exam that has popped up during my education. College preparation included the ACT and SAT, and vet school admission involved the MCAT and GRE. I have obviously survived them all, so why does the NAVLE seem so intimidating?

For me, the NAVLE is a rite of passage. It is an assessment which marks the transition from student to professional. The usual test anxiety questions pop into my head: “What if I fail? What if I sleep though my alarm? What if I forget my 2 forms of identification?” These all feel normal.  The question that I’ve never dealt with before is: “What will passing this test indicate? Does it mean I am ready to be a doctor?”

It is this question which has inspired me the most to dedicate plenty of time for studying. I see NAVLE preparation not just as a bunch of questions which I would like to answer correctly. I see it more importantly as solidification of the knowledge that I have learned over the past few years, and an opportunity to make sense of and build on that knowledge before I step out into the field to put it to work.

The trick to NAVLE preparation is allowing adequate time for studying, setting realistic goals, and avoiding burnout. I began NAVLE preparation my first year by signing up for the free online Zuku Review question of the day. VetPrep is another internet site that provides practice questions and examination, and I purchased its 6 month preparation course at the beginning of my fourth year. From my past experiences with standardized examinations, I know that my success is not only dependant on how broad my knowledge base is, but also how comfortable I am with the testing format, time constraints, and taking educated guesses. Online practice tests found though Zuku Review, VetPrep and the NBVME site are valuable. Reviewing old class notes and reading board review books has also been helpful. Studying obviously takes time and energy, so I arranged my course schedule to allow for a free block during the month prior to the NAVLE.

As the NAVLE approaches, I find myself comforted by advice from graduates in years past. Study hard, avoid burnout by taking frequent breaks, get plenty of rest and absolutely do not study the night before the exam. Wish me luck!

About Jennifer Wolf

Jennifer Wolf, DVM, graduated from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. She originally joined Banfield in 2003 as a veterinary assistant, returned in 2008 as a student ambassador, and in 2010 joined as a doctor at Banfield’s Cambridge, Mass., location. She lives in Boston with her husband, Elliot, and her puggle dog, Sofi. View all posts by Jennifer Wolf →


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