Tough Decision: Taking the NPLEX During the Summer or Fall?

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It was the start of my second-year, and we were all curious about our first set of boards, the NPLEX I. My sister gave me her USMLE materials, I was able to snag some awesome powerpoint slides from upperclassmen, attended the tutor sessions taught by residents, and purchased the NPLEX I study questions. I did not purchase the study guide for the NPLEX I.  I have heard mixed views about it, but I borrowed a classmate of mines to see for myself. It did not appeal to my way of studying as I would hope it would plus, I didn’t want to have too many sources. I paid for the NPLEX Crunch course were I was given powerpoints, videos, tips, and references on where to go for further study. I didn’t think it helped me, but I did agree with one of the reasons why people fail the NPLEX I, and that was having too many or too little sources. My materials, were helpful enough for me!

Anyways, I was sitting in Immunology class and I have noticed an upperclassman in the class. She later told me that she was sitting in so she can do well on the immunology questions.  I’ve asked her if she was going to take the boards next summer? She said this coming fall. I did not know we had that option. I was ready to sign-up for the summer exam, but since we could take it in February, why not? What’s the rush? I have decided to take the NPLEX I in February for these reasons (and glad I did!):

  1. I wasn’t ready. Second-year, was extremely challenging for me because we had classes and had to prepare for clinic. I have made a schedule to study for the boards, but never followed through.
  2. That summer was the start of taking the summer clinic requirement. I don’t know about anyone else, but after clinic, I am ready to go home, relax, or cater to my hobbies. Also, that was a really busy summer where I had to do summer clinic and preceptorship. I did not have time to look at any NPLEX I materials. Eventually, I was able to snag some tips on how to organize my life during the summer. I was getting good at multi-tasking of being in clinic and studying for boards and classes.
  3. Less stressful. A vast majority of my classmates took the boards during the summer. Not having majority of my classmates there during the Februrary exam, was less stressful because I was around people I did not know. I didn’t have to hear about “How did you do?” or “Oh, I failed” all day in class and dwell on questioning whether I did bad or not. Everyone already took the NPLEX, so it was very peaceful and easier for me not to think about the test.
  4. The exam was expensive. For $500 a pop, why rush and fail then study and pay again? I could never do that all over again, even if you paid me.
  5. I was taking gastro and manipulation during my first semester before boards. There were tons of anatomy and some gastro/physio questions. I am so glad I took these classes because they were extremely helpful!

I didn’t want to rush but take my time. That is is beauty about taking boards in naturopathic medical school. You can take boards when you feel ready (you can take NPLEX I post-graduation which I did not know!). When taking test in the classroom, you have to rush and take test at a set date where either the classmates would decided or the professor. I believe, I have learned BETTER by studying for the boards than sitting in classes for two years. I studied at my own pace, retained, and understood information better. I am actually thinking about taking NPLEX II in February.

Taking the boards during the summer or fall is a personal choice. If you feel ready to take it during the summer, go for it! If not, there’s always February. As long as you take it and pass, that is all that matters.


Cheers ❤




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