Vet student with a magnifying glass

Advice for the NAVLE Exam: Let the Mystery Be

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Don’t Get Derailed by Mystery Clues

Photo: David LaSalle, Instructor at STATMed Learning

By David LaSalle, STATMed Learning Instructor

I see it all the time — a veterinarian or vet student will read the prompt and vignette for a NAVLE exam question and immediately notice clues they recognize and have associations with. Everything seems to be going well. But then — the Mystery Clue appears! 

Here’s some of my best advice for the NAVLE exam: let the mystery be.

Here’s why: on a board exam, you’ll inevitably come across one piece of information that is unfamiliar. You may have seen it before. Maybe it means something specific, but you can’t quite remember. But suddenly, the entire question can become about that one Mystery Clue. 

You worry at it like a dog with a bone, thinking, “If only I could recall what this one detail means, it would unlock this entire question!” You poke. You prod. You dig. And you scratch. But if you don’t remember what it is, there’s nothing that will change that. In the meantime, all of the work you’ve done previously, like collecting good clues, has fallen by the wayside. 

If the mystery clue flusters you, you can go into the answer set frustrated and with no coherent plan in mind to determine the correct answer. Typically, chaos ensues, and more often than not, the wrong answer ends up on top. 

All of this has a simple, although possibly painful, solution: if you can’t remember what it means right now (no matter how important it seems), you simply can’t use it. You have to leave it behind. The NAVLE is no time to become Sherlock Holmes. 

Instead, focus on and use all those other boring clues that do add up. It’s not as sexy as cracking that mystery, but it maximizes your chances of choosing the correct answer. Which is what it’s all about, right?

Learn more about taking the NAVLE the STATMed way.

Interested in more test-taking strategies and pitfalls? Check out STATMed’s Boards Workshop to learn more.

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