Retaking the NAVLE®? Zuku can help
1. Start by reviewing our videos on Effective Study Strategies for NAVLE seminars (each runs about 20 min) that cover new developments and how to improve your strategic test-taking.
- Part 1: Get in the ballpark: Strategic test-taking
- Part 2: What are NAVLE® questions really like?
- Part 3: Study smarter: Visual learning with cases
- Part 4: When time is short: NAVLE® Study Strategy in the Home Stretch
2. Get through all the material and RE-Review in the final month(s). The single most common factor among colleagues who fail licensure exams is that they did not spend enough time during the final weeks doing timed test-mode tests. The main thing you can do to improve your performance on the exam is to get very habituated to test-taking, day-in and day-out. Aim for getting through 100% of both the study-mode and the timed test-mode Qs this study period. Getting through all the material truly makes all the difference.
Getting through all the material means a structured, regular schedule of study-mode tests every day. This timed test-mode testing is extra important for you in the final 4–6 weeks, when you should try to do 2–4 timed test-mode tests every day and also review your notes. This second "reinforcement and recall" step of timed test-mode is critical. It helps people learn to manage their time, anxiety, and expectations during the real exam. It will help you to continue to gain confidence and a comfort level with timed tests, and also give you a review of the key topics.
You will still see questions you don't know on the exam; the idea is NOT that we have the exact same question as the test. The questions have you cover the relevant material and get used to test-taking. The re-review helps you to gain confidence and a comfort level with timed tests, while giving you a review of the key topics and helping the info stick.
3. Organize your day:
Typically we suggest dividing your time roughly two-thirds/one-third between doing test questions and reading/making notes, and studying at least 20 hours per week. Working through test questions day in and day out helps you focus your study and become so accustomed to answering questions that it is second nature. This helps minimize either second-guessing yourself during the exam and will help with your timing.
Here's a suggested routine that may give you some new inspiration:
A typical day: ~ 1 to 3 hours, depending on your time and alertness.
If you are tired, then rest. If time is short, do practice questions rather than reviewing notes.
- Test practice ~1 1/2 hour: An hour or so of practice tests.
- Study and Notes review ~1 hour: Look up answers to questions you didn't know or that gave you trouble, and make short notes on these. Also review key diseases and key summary notes.
In general, spend your time doing a combination of:
1. Writing or studying distilled summary notes on topics that give you trouble
2. Practicing the 4 steps of multiple choice questions
3. Shift to notes review and test-mode tests in the final 4 weeks before your exam
4. Review Top Topics (articles or videos), make your own notes:
Each day spend time tuning up on 2-3 of the Top 20 in the big 4-6 species. Don't just stare at a screen.
Physically write down 3-4 key points about each disease (looking up information in textbooks/online when needed):
- Classic presentation, key differentials, test of choice, treatment of choice
- Slap an image in there because that helps us remember, and/or make a note to remind yourself of a case you've seen that matches this presentation/diagnosis/treatment
- SAVE it and then each weekend review each week's notes
- Get to the point where you can rewrite these notes from memory
****Try not to get hung up on every detail, especially in topics like pharmacology and toxicology, for example.****
****You have taken the test before, so you have a sense of the major diseases and you may remember the ones you may have gotten wrong in particular! Use that frustration to your advantage and make a note of the key topics you need to focus on this study period.****
5. Invest in a couple reliable books:
Physically looking up information in books really makes a difference. When possible, use physical textbooks to look up information. Something about the physical page makes a difference in retention, plus it gives your eyes a break from screen time.
Click here to check out Zuku's list of recommended reading.
Use the Zuku articles (and embedded Merck links) for other topics and species with which you feel less comfortable but that also take a smaller percentage of the exam (e.g., swine, avian, exotics) and remember not to get stuck on the tiny details. It is well worth it to get through all our Top Topics articles/videos, as the goal of those is bite-sized boards-level information.
6. The ICVA self-assessments are a good study tool - well worth your time to do those as a study guide, rather than as an assessment. It is premature to use them to assess yourself before the final 6–8 weeks, but they can be very helpful as study aids. Do 10–15 of these Qs a couple times a week. Your homework that day is to look up answers to the ones you did not know.
7. Check out our suggested 3-month and 6-month study calendars to help you map out your studies.
If a rigid schedule seems impractical and hard to stick with during the busyness of daily life and work, try a simpler, more flexible approach:
Commit 2 hours/day, 6 days a week
Give 1.5 hours to practice testing with a break in the middle, then spend 30 minutes reviewing notes
Prioritize dog and cat first (50% of the test) then horse and cow, then pigs
On the weekend, spend extra time studying your trouble areas and practice testing
Correctly complete 80% of practice tests with 7 weeks to go before your exam. (~Oct 1 or March 1)
In the final 7 weeks, do timed tests every day, and RE-review your key notes.
Make room for rest and physical exercise. You cannot study all the time.
Get sleep. Move your body.
It will help you cope better with stress and learn better when you do sit down to study.
8. If you have special challenges with test-taking such as physician-diagnosed attention-deficit hyperactive disorder or severe anxiety, you may consider applying for special accommodations during the exam. You need a doctor to sign off on it, to make the request when you sign up for the test, and it can take months for them to approve this, so do not delay if this is of relevance to you.