From the second you arrive on campus, you hear of the dreaded NAVLE. You receive emails referencing it, you hear what works for some people to study, you get about 100 unsolicited tips about different study materials, and yet, it seems so far away. Besides, I need to pass this year before I even get to attempt the NAVLE, right? I remember a fourth-year student at orientation talk about the intricacies of her study schedule being balanced among her clinical rotations and externships. While it was exciting to hear about someone being SO close to crossing the finish line of vet school, my initial reaction was, “That sounds like a problem for three years from now, Lauren.”
For those who don’t know, the NAVLE is the board exam required to be passed by all practicing veterinarians typically taken in the fourth year of studies. Essentially, a cumulative final of finals to the three most academically trying years of your life in order to *finally* pursue your dream. Now, it may seem cliché, but one thing I learned in my first year of veterinary school that is leading to success in my second year is that doing a little bit every day truly is the best way to retain information. My microbiology class, in particular, comes to mind, but I’ve found that if I do a little bit each day–work on a study guide, watch a lecture, read through my notes–the night before the exam is much less stressful and is more of a review of information I’ve already committed to memory. In a bigger sense, this is what the NAVLE is, how much of your veterinary education have you effectively committed to memory rather than crammed. With this logic, I’ve started to slowly create some habits that will hopefully make my life easier when it’s my turn to tackle the beast that is the NAVLE.
The first of these habits was advice from a recent grad. Many professors base their exams on NAVLE questions to essentially wire your brain to navigate the questions. This means they are looking at NAVLE questions A LOT. It’s also likely some of your professors help write these questions. With this in mind, it is not uncommon that in their lectures they will make a point to indicate certain topics that, in their words, “the NAVLE loves.” I’ve started to mark these questions with a post-it with the intention to briefly outline those topics and condense them into study materials.
Another thing I’ve started doing is subscribing to the Zuku question of the day. This website emails you a practice NAVLE question every day. As I progress through my education, more and more do I start to recognize a lot of the components to the questions. I’ve started to screenshot these questions, their answer, and the explanation to the answer and put them in my notes next to where I learned about the topic. I’m hoping when I go to review these topics I’ll have a way to test my knowledge.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in vet school it’s that even when the days seem long, the semesters truly fly by fast. I know the NAVLE will be here before I know it, and I’m hoping to take proactive steps to make it a little less scary.