With your clinical year coming to a rapid close I’m sure all you fourth years are starting to think about the final hurdle looming on the horizon. NPLEX II is certainly a hurdle, but it is attainable – and I wanted to share my experience with you to hopefully help you prepare for this summer.
Preparing to Prepare:
At this stage in the game try not to feel like you actually have to start studying – that is definitely not the case. What I did do at this point last year was definitively decide to take a course, and purchased a copy of the prep book I was planning on using (just to feel a bit better). I spent a lot of time setting up my study schedule, off and on for about 2 weeks in early May. Your schedule should consist of two components:
Part 1. What each day is going to look like from the day you start to the day of NPLEX
Part 2. What you’re actually going to be studying every single day.
Deciding all of this ahead of time eliminates the countless minutes (or hours?) you would otherwise spend ruminating on it as the summer progresses and your anxiety/stress levels increase. All I had to do every day was show up to my study spot and open my planner. When planning out Part 1, I recommend literally putting everything down in a calendar – from which days you are going to take off (weekly and special occasions) to the layout of your study day. When you are doing this it is extremely important to take into consideration your personal study habits. For example, I’m not a morning person so my day started at 11am and ended later.
Living through the Summer:
Once my Day 1 of studying came around I was completely ready to get started (thanks to all my preparing ahead of time). Again, how you study each day should be personalized to how you study best, though I will say that it is going to be a lot of reading no matter what you prefer. Reviewing frequently is the key to success, considering the sheer quantity of info you will go over each day. I started writing questions throughout the day, which I then used to quiz myself. I reviewed at the end of each day, at the end of each topic, and at the end of each week. Don’t get hung up on info that just won’t stick though, it’s NPLEX – you just simply can’t know everything.
I stayed relatively calm throughout most of the summer, and here are the things I attribute that to:
Sticking to my daily schedule. Respect the time frames that you gave yourself at the beginning of the summer. If you know you’re useless after 6pm, then stop studying at 6pm! Even if you aren’t satisfied with what you accomplished that day.
Seeing an intern/ND. I have always used my appointments as a vent session #sorrynotsorry, and coming in every couple weeks to get a boost of encouragement and motivation was a life saver, not to mention the vital supplements I was taking.
Being clear with family and friends about my commitment to studying. I emailed my whole family at the beginning of the summer with my daily schedule and asked them to please not contact me during that time. They definitely commented on the severity of my email, but they respected the timeframes and we all had a good laugh about it throughout the summer.
And finally, when I was off the clock I was off the clock. It is hard to not think about NPLEX stuff the closer to NPLEX you get, but we all know how important balance is to succeeding and keeping stress at a minimum. You gave yourself that day off for a reason, so take it.
Compared to NPLEX I, there is more to know and the stakes are a little higher. You have accomplished and overcome a lot during your time at CCNM, this is just one final thing. Take it seriously and you CAN do it.