Veterinarian and a dog against a white and orange background

Trusting the System – How One Vet Student Passed the NAVLE

← Back to the Blog

How One Vet Student Finally Conquered the NAVLE with STATMed Learning

For the last few years, I have been trying to pass NAVLE, and each time I failed with pretty much the same score: 417 to 423. It drove me crazy. I couldn’t make sense of any of these scores. I’ve tried Zuku, then VetPrep, then Zuku+VetPrep. I’ve doubled the time for studying. And I keep getting the same result every time.

You can imagine my frustration. I spoke to all my friends, peers, and recent graduates, and I’ve received thousands of pages of notes — with no improvement.

I’ve been told to “study more” or “there’s something wrong with your method of studying.” I couldn’t even make sense of this last sentiment because I’ve studied as I’ve always done. But I took it to heart, and I found STATMed Learning during my search.

What was all this about?! Reading all the testimonials felt like finding a magic bullet. But I wondered how it could be possible. Trusting the system felt a bit like taking a blind leap of faith. Although, the more I read, the more sense it made. It felt like each post was talking about me, but my skepticism was pretty intense. It didn’t feel natural to let go of how I’d always done things.

So I spoke to Ryan, and he sensed my resistance and stubbornness. But he let me walk at my own speed and was understanding.

And the truth is that I wasn’t ready, and I thought I could do it by myself. So, I cobbled together a plan, mixing some of Ryan’s guidance and my own reading, and I took the NAVLE again. And I failed. Again.

It felt like a mess, and I was pulling bits of advice from everywhere. There was no structure, just emotions and impulsivity.

Then we spoke again, and this time, Ryan was pretty clear: “You’ve got to trust the system. You’ve tried your way several times, and you didn’t achieve results. Embrace the system with confidence —it’s working.”

And deep inside, I realized I was not confident in the system. It was so different from all I knew and challenging, like uncharted waters. Sorry Ryan, but that was me back then! But then I said to myself, that’s it, it all ends here, your whole journey to become a Vet ends here if you don’t do something about it.

And that was my first turning point, the moment I decided to fully embrace the system and fully commit to preparation with Ryan and Dave.

As I started the STATMed Test-Taking Boards Workshop with David, I realized, deep inside, that I was not confident in the system. It was so hard to let go of my old ways, even though I knew they didn’t work. It was so different from all I knew, like uncharted waters. But I reflected on what Ryan told me before I started—that I needed to be all in and trust the process—and to trust what David was teaching me. I said to myself, “That’s it; my journey to become a veterinarian will end here if I don’t do something completely different!” I know this is a late realization, but I can say that this was my first turning point, the moment I fully embraced the system and fully committed to preparation with Ryan and Dave and the STATMed system. And what a wise decision that was!

And during all this intense preparation, I was also discovering myself, both my strengths and weaknesses. At this stage, the second turning point arrived when I realized I was literally twisting all options to possibly fit or losing sight of the specific question being asked or creating an all-new question to validate a wrong answer choice, all one on top of the other. My STATMed data collection showed that I was taking 80 out of 360 questions to a tiebreak, and using the analysis tools David taught me, I realized this was too many. I was overloading my ability to process these questions. It’s really amazing how the STATMed system teaches you to find these patterns and then fix them. And as Ryan and David told me, I was doing the same handful of mistakes again and again. For the first time, I could identify them, which led to me being able to fix them!

This helped me realize my whole mindset was wrong and that I was trying to validate all answers when in fact, the game is all about finding the single best choice that fits the very specific question being asked.

I told Ryan this profound insight, and he said, “I’m glad you see this now…but you do know we talk about that all through the first two units of the workshop, right?” And, of course, he is right about that. Still, sometimes it just takes me a long time to see these things. Ryan agreed that different STATMed students will get to these insights at different rates, and that while I “saw the light” pretty late, that’s fine because I did indeed learn what my mistakes are and how to fix them. It allowed me to use the knowledge I had all along to find the “safest” answer choice. It all started to make sense. It was like I finally knew the rules of the game for the NAVLE and learned how to show what I know!

One month before the exam, my practice score visibly increased. I gained confidence, I trusted Ryan’s system all the way, and I passed the NAVLE!

So if I can give anyone out there struggling or failing the NAVLE or other medical board exams, my humble feedback is that you have to trust the system and the expertise of these guys all the way — 100%. The sooner you do that, the sooner you will rewire your process and be able to show what you know on boards, ideally even faster than I did!

Thank you, Ryan and Dave, for everything. What an amazing journey we had!

-Dr. Dan

Are you struggling to show what you know on test day? The STATMed Boards Test-taking Workshop is specifically designed for students or veterinarians who self-identify as “bad test-takers.”

Learn more or register for the Boards Test-taking Workshop today!

Related Articles