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As the CEO of MDI Prep I have taught the NBDE Biochemistry for over 7 years. Most of our students are foreign trained dentist. Super smart and intelligent individuals who have a thorough understanding of dentistry. So why do so many of these foreign trained dentist come to our program after failing the NBDE exam? I think the answer is clear, it’s not because they don’t understand the information, it is because the questions may be difficult to understand due to the language structure. Get a basic understanding of English. If you do not speak English at least 4 hours per day for the past year, start now. The day to day conversations will strengthen your English. Because I recognized this as a problem, I decided to collaborate with a team of U.S. and  foreign trained dentist to figure out how we can close the gap. Our approach was simple:

The Approach

1. First step is to take a language acquisition test to assess your proficiency in the the English language. This test does not require any prior content understanding, just the ability to recognize different sentence structures. We developed an language acquisition test to help our NBDE students find out whether they were ready to begin the NBDE class. If we determined they fell below the 60% range, we recommended enrolling in an ESL class to build their English foundation. One site that is helpful is: http://www.transparent.com/language-resources/tests.html

2. Our next step was to show our foreign trained dentist how to eliminate words from questions that were not necessary for answering the question. We call these extra words in the Questions “fluff”. An example of removing the fluff can be seen with the question below.

Removing the Fluff

The lack of which of the following substances during tooth formation, most likely induces enamel hypoplasia?

The lack of ________ induces enamel hypoplasia?

As you can see by removing the fluff it makes the questions so much easier to understand. We have a workshop designed specifically to show our students how to remove the fluff from the question. 

These two suggestions are ways to conquer the NBDE questions if find yourself struggling to grasp the English language. There are other suggestions I can give you, so feel free to leave a comment and I will be sure to respond.