Tips to Succeed in Your Dental Hygiene Board Exam (Part 1)

dental exam routine

It is finally time to show what you know and ace your board exam! You have been looking forward to this for a long time. Now that it is quickly approaching, anxiety and self-doubt is building up on your chance of succeeding at your exam. If something goes wrong, you might have to take it all over again next year. But, who would want to wait another year? I know you don’t. The key to doing well and remaining calm is how you prepare before the exam. So, here are three tips to help you feel more confident and successfully pass your written dental hygiene board examination.

dental exam routine

  • Build a Routine When Studying

We, as humans, are habitual creatures. We subconsciously prefer predictability because it feels comfortable and safe. That is why we continue to follow habits and routines, sometimes without even realizing it. A good routine, no matter how small it is, can help you perform better too.

Try to build a routine when you are studying that is easy to repeat doing during your written board examination. For example, chew the same mint flavor gum or wear the same outfit every time you are studying.

By consistently following your routine, a psychological link will connect what you have studied to that routine. So, when you follow your study routine during your exam, you will be better able to recall information.

This is a mind trick that works with anything. Look at Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, and you would notice they wear the same outfit practically every day. Following that routine helps them perform better since the mind associates their outfit with a high level of performance and success.

  • Visualize Your Confidence and Success

This is another powerful mind trick to reduce your anxiety before and during your exam. There are many stories of how visualization can boost and improve your performance. One of the most famous stories is how a US Navy Pilot was captured and spent seven years as a war prisoner during the Vietnam War. Here is a summary of his story:

Captain Sands was shot down and captured by the enemy, afterwards spending seven years in the Hanoi Hilton prison camp. He was confined to absolute isolation in a small cage that allowed no physical activity and little human contact. Sands was an avid golf lover, so he decided to play golf every day during those seven years, in his mind. He vividly constructed the golf course to the finest detail, including the smell and feel of the trees, grass, and even the clothes he imagined wearing.

He played a full 18 holes every day in his mind, stroke by stroke. Each swing and putt was perfect. Every day was a perfect performance. When he was finally released out of the prison camp and returned home, Sands visited the golf course he hasn’t played on for almost a decade. Before the war, he always finished around 100. After the war, he significantly trimmed down his number of strokes to 74, a phenomenal improvement after not playing a round of golf or having any physical activity for 7 years.

Obviously, you don’t have seven years to study before your exam, but you can still implement this visualization technique to your daily routine to guarantee better results on your exam. Here is what you can do to properly visualize for your exam:

  • Visualize yourself confidently reviewing all the study material and know everything on it
  • Visualize traveling to the test center and entering inside the building
  • Visualize the desk you are sitting in and the test in front of you
  • Visualize reading the instructions and the questions thoroughly
  • Visualize answering every single question with confidence
  • Visualize that feeling of accomplishment finishing the exam and knowing you passed

More details in the visualization makes it more effective in boosting your performance. You may not know what the test center and questions/instructions look like, but that is what the imagination is for.

Simply do this visualization technique every day for 10 minutes as soon as you wake up and right before you go to bed. Once it’s the day of the exam, you will feel completely ready because you have already taken it over a hundred times before. Just in your mind.

dental exam planning

  • Plan the Rest of Your Exam Day in Advance

When the day finally arrives when you to take the exam, you don’t want to think about anything else. You need to be in your “Test-Taking Zone”.

In order to do that, everything else needs to feel like its on auto-pilot. Eating breakfast. Picking your outfit. Going to the test center. These are miscellaneous things you need to do before the exam but should not focus on. Eat the same breakfast as you usually do. This is like Tip #1: keep to your breakfast routine on exam day.

Pick your outfit in advance, like the night before your exam. That way you won’t waste time thinking about it in the morning.

Go to the test center the day or week before to know your route and know what to do, such as knowing where the parking lot is, paying the parking ticket and walking to the test center. Same thing if you are taking public transportation. Do it before the exam day so you know what to expect. If the traffic is bad, finding parking is difficult, the building may be difficult to navigate, you will know in advance. This will significantly reduce the chance of running into unexpected events and panic before the exam.

And there you have it!

Follow these three tips and I guarantee you will both feel and do better on your dental hygiene board exam! You will not only feel less anxious for the exam, but you will also retain more of what you learned. These have been proven to work. Just do them and know you’re going to nail it on your exams!


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