Yesterday was the day. I remember it like it was…yesterday. I had spent the past four plus months studying, finished my online prep program, and even took two self-assessments that are offered by the ICVA. I had done most, if not all, the things I could do to prepare. I was ready to get it over with. I arrived to the testing center early, around 7:30am so I could get started with the check in process when they opened at 7:45am. After checking in, which is quite the process all unto itself, I was sitting at my station at about 8:00am and ready to start the biggest exam of vet school.
I made through the first section with just a couple minutes to spare, but that was because I spent a good five minutes on the first question which was a simple fluid concentration calculation that I blanked on. I was feeling good after the first section so I decided to go onto the second without a break. The second section went by much faster than the first and I was still feeling relatively fresh, so I decided to keep on going. After the third section, however, I was getting a bit fatigued and needed to use the restroom, so I took about a fifteen-minute break to clear my head and walk around. I was feeling okay about the exam so far. There were some questions I knew the answer to for sure, and there were some that were out of left field. At this point, I was just trying to stay cool and collected and just think about staying focused.
I walked back in to start the next section and finished in about the same amount of time as the previous two. I was feeling okay at the end of the section, so went on to start the fifth section. I just wanted to get it done. And here’s where more of the fatigue started to set in. I found myself having to reread the questions more often and was getting more anxious about questions to which I didn’t know the answers. But I pushed through and finished the section and then decided to take a quick break to grab a drink of water, go to the restroom, and get ready for the last section.
For some reason, this last section was when my composure started to get the best of me. I started to notice more of when I wasn’t sure of an answer. And to my stupidity, I started to tally how many questions I was making “guesses” on. My advice to you: don’t do this. By the end of the exam I was feeling both relief and the onset of anxiety. I felt like I was guessing on the whole exam (which I knew deep down wasn’t the case). I felt that, surely, I didn’t pass. The anxiety continued to grow as I left the testing center and got in the car to drive home. I kept trying to reassure myself that I did all the prep I could, and the self-assessments predicted I would pass. But I still felt like it went terribly.
After talking to some friends who had also just taken the test and to some friends that are recent grads, I was told that most people feel this way after taking it, and the vast majority of the time they’ve passed. So that’s where I am now. I completed all of the prep program, was predicted to pass based on the self-assessments, so I should be okay, right? I’m thankful everyone I spoken to over the past twenty-four hours has been so supportive and reassuring. So if you’ve already taken it or will be taking it this year still, I wish you the best of luck. Be confident in your training and confident in yourself.