So at about 3 pm yesterday, I learned that I am licensed to practice veterinary medicine in North America. A thought that at once elates and terrifies me. I keeping thinking there must be some mistake. Did I really pass? I actually took a screenshot of the online score portal just to be sure that it does, in fact, say “PASS” next to my name. The surreal is characterized by seemingly contradictory conditions of fact and fantasy, and that is exactly how this feels.
Since I’m no longer in danger of jinxing the outcome (yes, I am that superstitious), I can write about my experience at the NAVLE. I scheduled my NAVLE test date to be after one of my off-blocks, which didn’t make for much of a vacation but it did permit the frantic panic that I’ve come to associate with successful studying (you do it your way, I’ll do it mine). The panic did not subside as the two weeks went on, but rather it steadily intensified. Fortunately, there’s nothing like feeling that your two decades of education, mountain of student debt, and future career are all on the line to help one’s focus. Snark aside, those feelings did actually help me to bear down. Armed with online study guides, a few legal pads and 15 kg of textbooks, I went to work.
The day of the test came and I drove to the testing center. I was the first one into the testing room, but I’d forgotten my lunch. I went to my car and when I came back to get in line, I ended up with testing number seven. I took this as a sign of good fortune. I stashed lunch and energy drinks in one of the lockers, checked in, signed in, got wanded and patted down, and was shown to a computer.
The first thing that struck me when I started the test was the ease of use of the NAVLE software. I liked paper tests and I was worried about taking one of the online variety. But the software is great; you can highlight stuff, cross out answers, take notes, skip around, the whole bit. Everything that I do on paper tests but was worried that I wouldn’t be able to on the NAVLE. This made me feel a lot better.
I confess I did make use of the giant sound dampening headphones, a device I’d not used since I mowed lawns in high school. I used it because the young woman next to me was typing a great deal for her standardized test, and she was typing with such velocity and ferocity that I’m surprised she didn’t dislocate a finger in the course of her examination. So the headphones came in handy.
The one thing for which I was not prepared was the length of the examination. As easy as it is to understand the notion of taking a test for six or seven hours, I was unprepared to actually try and sit still and focus for that long. It is an extremely taxing mental effort and as much as I thought I was ready, I wasn’t.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to offer this one observation to all the students who will be taking the NAVLE in the months and years to come: Not I nor any person with whom I spoke felt like they passed the test when they walked out the door of the testing center. Not one of us. It is a demanding, challenging and difficult test and there is no triumphant feeling to be enjoyed when you finish it. Don’t panic, for the victory and the triumph and the elation come much later. Congratulations to all my classmates and colleagues who passed, and good luck to everyone who will be taking it.