We have an exciting opportunity for students applying to our scholarship program this year! One student who completes their application before the Early Bird Deadline of September 1 will have their National Board Exam fee paid by NFSGI when the time comes. Learn more!
We asked three of our associates who are just starting out in their careers to share their thoughts on the National Board Exam. We appreciate Lori from Columbus, OH, Abby from New Albany, IN and Keelin from Orlando, FL for speaking candidly about their own experiences and taking the time to help other students prepare. We know you will find their advice helpful in your own preparations.
How did you prepare for the exam?
Lori: While I was in school, I printed out study guides for all of my exams. I put those in a binder and would read over them weekly just one section at a time. In the front of my binder I had all the vocabulary and would read over them daily as well.
Abby: To prepare for National Boards I purchased the Funeral Service Compend book, which features glossaries of vocabulary helpful for learning terminology. I also used Quizlet
for both sections of the board. For easy access, I kept the Quizlet webpages open in tabs on my phone, so I could flip through the virtual note cards in my downtime.
Keelin: I used the Conference Exam study guide
in combination with study guides I had made for my cumulative final exams in mortuary school. I took the bullet points in the beginning of each section of the Conference study guide, matched them with information in my cumulative final notes and expanded where needed.
What about your preparations was the most helpful?
Lori: I think in compartments. So, my binders were helpful because I would say "okay Lori we are going to focus on this section this week" and I would only read over that part of my binder and those vocabulary words.
Abby: The Quizlets were most helpful to me because they best prepared me for potential questions I could see on the exam.
Keelin: I had already put in a lot of work to generate study guides/study for my cumulative finals, so using those notes as a base for my National Board notes cut out about 75% of the work and gave me more time to actually review the material.
Can you describe the experience of actually taking the exam?
Lori: I was very stressed because of nerves. The arts section was pretty okay but the science section made me second-guess what I knew to be true.
Abby: I was very nervous to take the exam. I took the arts section one day, and the science section the next. I actually failed the Arts section my first round. Because of that first-day failure, I considered rescheduling the Science Section. I was glad I did not reschedule and went forward with the exam because I passed it and found it to be easy. When I went back to take the Arts section three months later I felt confident because I was familiar with the test, the testing environment, knew what to expect, and successfully passed the exam.
Keelin: I went through the questions quickly once (answering with gut instinct) and then slowly went back through the questions, reading them thoroughly. Ultimately, I went through the questions quite a few times before I submitted. All in all, there is plenty (plenty!) of time to take the exam. I also definitely used the dry erase board that they provided.
What advice would you give to a mortuary science student with their preparations?
Lori: Half of the challenge with taking the boards is having confidence and experience. Have confidence in your skills learned from your experience and you will be fine.
Abby: Preparation can be stressful, so be easy on yourself. Prioritize studying, but make time for rest and do things you enjoy so you do not feel burned out. Do not be discouraged if you fail the test. It is a challenging exam and it can be taken again.
Keelin: Set aside time to study and take studying for it seriously. No one will regret spending too much time interacting with the material.
What impact do you think your successful completion of the exam will have on your career?
Lori: I believe that it showed me that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. My journey here was very rough and there were times when I was overwhelmed and stressed and even cried through the night. But God got me through it and now there is literally nothing that I believe is too hard. Being a funeral director and embalmer will be tough but I will remember the "scars" from my journey to this point and lift my head and press forward.
Abby: There are funeral homes and states that require the National Board, so it is a relief to know I have that requirement completed therefore I am not limited to any potential career opportunities.
Keelin: It's a confidence boost for sure (especially if you pass the first time) that someone fresh out of mortuary school needs before jumping into their internship/apprenticeship.
If you are a mortuary science student who needs to take the National Boards, we hope you will keep Lori, Abby and Keelin’s tips and resources in mind when it comes time to prepare. Best of luck to you in your studies! Don't forget about our scholarship program
, where deserving students can receive up to $3,500 in assistance!