Tips about studying for the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE) abound, but I figured I would share some advice about my own studying experience.
- It’s possible to study for and pass NAVLE without using study packages from the two different NAVLE prep companies. The study packages are certainly convenient but reflect some differences in recommended treatment or prognosis from what my veterinary school emphasized. And the packages are rather expensive.
- Study in the way that works best for you, not your classmate. Everyone has a different way of studying, and hopefully by 4th year you’ve figured out what works for you. Some people reorganize their class notes, some attend the NAVLE review sessions hosted by their school, and some people use images from textbooks or class powerpoints as memory aids. As long as you’re sure to touch on all the different species (cat, dog, horse, cow, sheep/goat, pig, poultry, camelid, exotics) and focus on diagnostic tests, treatment, and prognosis, then you’ll be fine. The secret is that there’s no best way to study.
- Don’t stress about when to start studying. Some people prefer to cram, and so take the week off before the exam to study. Some people prefer to start studying 4-6 months prior to the exam and study a small amount every day. Other people prefer to learn on clinics and start studying 4 weeks before the exam.
- Don’t be afraid to bribe yourself to provide a little studying motivation. When you’re in the thick of studying, it can be hard to focus yourself when reading tricky questions about chicken diseases you’ve personally never seen before, especially if you got the last 5 questions wrong. Taking scheduled breaks to stretch and interact with your pets, savoring a cup of tea or hot chocolate, or taking 10-minute breaks to catch up on the news or social media really does wonders to extend the quality of your study sessions.
- Remember, more studying ≠ better studying. I struggle with this a lot, when I feel guilty about doing other things with my evening and then decide to study for an hour before bed. If I’ve had a long stressful day or my eyes are fluttering shut on their own accord, I’m much more likely to stare at the screen without actually reading my notes, or get study questions wrong because I read them incorrectly. For me, my best studying happens when I’m fresh, or when I research something interesting that I learned or saw in clinics.