Testlets: One of the hardest parts of the NBDE Part 1

If you’ve talked to any upper classmen, you’ll know that the testlets on the NBDE Part 1 are some of the most difficult parts of your dental boards. According to the ADA NBDE Part 1 Guide, approximately 80% of the items on the NBDE Part 1 are stand-alone, while approximately 20% are interdisciplinary testlet-based. A testlet consists of a patient scenario, patient history, and a set of discipline based items relevant to the scenario.

The reason why these are more difficult is because they’re more than a simple memorization of a database of answers.

These require complex understanding of a concept and interpretation of a patient situation. They mimic what you’ll be facing when you’re practicing dentistry – which is good! But they can be nerve wracking when you’re trying to study for your boards.


Last year, we embarked on a student research project to better understand the exam from a student perspective. We tapped into students and leaders who had taken the NBDE Part 1 and asked the what they thought of the current exam relative to the B&B Dental study materials.

The one thing that rose to the top was – testlets.

As one student put it, “I felt prepared for the NBDE Part 1 thanks to all of the B&B Dental flashcards, videos, and materials, but I didn’t realize how much of the exam was focused on testlets.” 

She went on to say that we should add testlets into our study material to help students better prepare for that aspect of the test.

So we did!

Within the B&B Dental NBDE Part 1 course, you’ll be introduced to a number of patient scenarios that test your knowledge and application. Here's an example from the course: 


Now here one of the questions that accompanies the patient scenario:


There are many more like this inside the B&B Dental NBDE Part 1 Course! If you're ready to get started, we're here to help. 



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