Prepping for Boards Part I

After the hardship that optometry students like to call second year, third year seems great! You now have an opportunity to practice your skills on real-life patients in clinic, have a lot less classes and labs, and just overall have more free time. That is, until studying for Boards Part I rolls around! NBEO Part I Boards is very intimidating for a lot of students. It tests most of the information that you learn during your first three years of optometry school! Even though this can be very daunting, UIWRSO aims to help students to better prepare for boards. Continue reading “Prepping for Boards Part I”

RSO Third Years take the “Optometry Knowledge Challenge”

As a second year, Part I of NBEO seems like a distant worry, but for third year students, it’s right around the corner! UIWRSO students excel on boards, so I wanted to know what our school is doing to prepare us for this daunting examination. One way that the school does this is by having an “Optometry Knowledge Challenge” game for students based on the science questions they will most likely see on the exam in March. I was able to not only sit in on this activity, but also judge and read the questions myself! The game was created by our very own Dean, Dr. Timothy Wingert, and led by two of UIWRSO’s faculty members, Dr. Rick Trevino and Dr. Carolyn Majcher. Almost all faculty and staff helped in some way by setting-up, judging, and/or developing questions for the games.

This was such a great event to go to for several reasons. First of all, UIWRSO provides the students with lunch. We all know we can’t study or think straight on an empty stomach! Students got to talk and eat for a while before the games. Prior to the actual game, students had access to the rules and the way the game would be played and judged. This means that the students had no surprises; they felt comfortable, which probably helps with the nerves they may experience with the real test. Students were assigned different seats to make sure that the games were fair and everyone had a different table rotation.

Boards 2 Boards 3 Boards 4

The game board looked incredible! Students rolled dice to see who went first and got to pick their game pieces, which happened to be different color-tipped eye drop bottles! Students rolled the dice, and the color they landed on indicated the category of question: basic science, optics, disease, or vision science. Students answered questions for one point each (sometimes a bonus question for two points!) and rolled again for correct answers. If they got it wrong, they wouldn’t get the extra roll at the end. This was important because the first to the finish got an extra ten points!

Boards 1 Boards 5 Boards 6IMG_1325IMG_1332IMG_1337IMG_20150206_120309IMG_20150206_123526

As a second year, it was a great experience to see the type of questions that were asked. First of all, I was able to recognize and answer many of the questions, which made me feel confident about the skills and topics I have learned about thus far. Secondly, the students who were actually playing the game knew the questions very well too, so everything up until this point has helped them to study for the upcoming boards. The students switched to another table after every game with new players and a judge (usually a faculty member). They played about six or seven games.

Little did I know, this was the second time the students had played this “Optometry Knowledge Challenge”  game. This meant that all the points from the first round of games and this round would be added up and there would be a winner! First prize was $500, second prize was $250, and third prize was $100. This is a great incentive for students because it can help pay for boards. The winners from this year (from left to right) were: Supriya Krishnan (3rd Place), Caroline Dang (runner up), Jessica Dente (runner up), Alicia Ketcham (runner up), Samatha Bohl (runner up), Desirae Brinkley (2nd Place), Amanda Achilles (1st Place).


I asked the students if they felt the games helped them prepare for boards, and several told me that they really appreciated it because it was a good way to have fun while studying. They were used to just reading it or maybe utilizing flashcards, but now they can play games with their classmates and professors, as well as have a chance at winning money. Who doesn’t like that? I am very excited for next year for multiple reasons, but now the future doesn’t seem as scary because I know I will have the preparation needed for boards. UIWRSO and its faculty care enough about our success to create a fun game for us to study for one of the most important exams in our life.

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A special thank you to Dr. Trevino for providing several of the pictures seen here. 

Online Resources for Optometry Students

There are many optometry-related online resources that I have used throughout optometry school.  A few of the ones that I have found most helpful and have used the most are below.

AOA Compass

AOA Compass_Fotor

AOA Compass is a resource available to AOA/AOSA members.  It provides a step-by-step guide for optometry students and new practitioners to help them complete necessary steps before practicing optometry.  It also provides information on different resources available to help optometry students and new practitioners transition from school to practice, including career resources and student loan repayment options.

The current listed steps are:

  1. Join the AOA/AOSA
  2. Explore Advocacy
  3. Register for NBEO Part I
  4. Prepare for NBEO Part I
  5. Register for NBEO Part II
  6. Prepare for NBEO Part II
  7. Explore Career Opportunities
  8. Consider a Residency
  9. Determine Practice Modality
  10. Find a Practice Opportunity
  11. Determine/Change Your Legal Name
  12. Register for NBEO Part III
  13. Pass NBEO Part III
  14. Planning Student Loan Repayment
  15. Apply for State Licensure
  16. Transition AOA Membership
  17. Become an InfantSEE and VISION USA Provider
  18. Obtain an NPI Number
  19. Prepare for Practice
  20. Obtain Professional Liability Insurance
  21. Register with the DEA
  22. Explore Continuing Education & Stay Up-To-Date with AOA Publications
  23. Consider Board Certification
  24. Join Allied Organizations

Each step has detailed information and useful links to help with completion of the step.  Members are able to update the status of each step to reflect the progress of completion using four different statuses:  To Do, In Progress, Finished!, or NA.  There is also a Total Progress status bar that shows the percentage of completion of all steps and an option to add typed notes to each step.  Members can access the site by using their AOA login information.


About:  “ is your #1 resource for optometry student life!  The website hosts top notch articles, news, videos and clinical pearls which are all created by optometry student journalists from each optometry school. allows students to become more involved in optometry and to help move the profession forward.”

Mission:  “Using relevant content, will keep current optometry students at the top of their game and attract the most motivated and determined pre-optometry students to enter the profession.  It will create more competitive applicants and, ultimately, better students.  Better students = better O.D’s = a better optometric profession.”

I have visited the website to read articles on clinical pearls and tips for studying for board exams, among other things.  Some articles on the website related to UIWRSO include:



About:  “ is the leading online clinical reference for eye care professionals, featuring a searchable contact lens and ocular pharmaceuticals database, an ICD-9 lookup, and clinical calculators to streamline contact lens prescribing.  Founded in 2003 by two optometrists in clinical practice, has about 3,000 subscribers.

A subscription to is less expensive than the leading printed contact lens reference, yet is updated more frequently, and offers more features like advanced search functions and a companion application for the iPhone.”

EyeDock is my most used iPhone app in clinic to look up medications and contact lenses and for vertex conversion.  EyeDock generously provides coupon codes for complimentary subscriptions to optometry students and faculty members.

Preparing for NBEO Part III – Almost There!

It’s finally here—my last semester of optometry school!

Four years have certainly gone by quickly.  Graduation is in May and just around the corner, but I don’t think it has really hit me yet since I’m still in school mode.  My current focus is Part III of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) exam, which I have registered to take in the beginning of February.

KMK Review TextbooksThe NBEO administers three comprehensive examination Parts or “National Boards.”  Each optometry college/school has different graduation requirements and each state has different licensing requirements regarding the attempt and passage of each NBEO Part.

Part I is Applied Basic Science, Part II is Patient Assessment and Management, and Part III is Clinical Skills Exam.  For Part I, I mainly used my lecture notes and the KMK Part I lecture courses, review textbooks, and online study resources to prepare.  For Part II, I mainly used the KMK Part II review textbook and online study resources to study.

For Part III, I am utilizing the school’s practice rooms, which are fully equipped to simulate the NBEO testing rooms in Charlotte, NC.  RSO has two practice rooms at the Eye Institute and two practice rooms at the Bowden Eye Care and Health Center.

During the summer of our third year of optometry school, we are required to pass an injection proficiency.  Since it may be a long time between the injection course and taking Part III, Dr. Ramona Parker, one of the nursing professors who teaches the course to optometry students, offers occasional practice sessions on injections at the Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions for those who want a refresher on the procedures.

Practice RoomPractice Injection Station

I am taking Part III on the same day with four other classmates so we have been practicing together throughout the week after our regular clinic schedules.  We have found it very helpful to have one person sit as the patient, a second person perform the skills as the doctor, and a third person acting as the examiner/proctor.  Having a third person act as the proctor has been helpful because of the feedback based on observation and completion of the evaluation forms, which are available on the NBEO website.

National Boards for any profession can definitely be intimidating and overwhelming, but the many hours of preparation and studying will be worthwhile when you find out your time and commitment have paid off in the end.