students walking on campus

Board Preparation Checklist

Week Before Boards

  • Drive to the testing center to determine best route, parking, driving time, etc.
  • Decide if you will drive yourself or if someone will drive you. Make all arrangements for transportation.
  • Obtain rules / policies of the testing center and familiarize yourself with the policies. Ask if earplugs are allowed / available.
  • Visit the testing center to see the facilities. Locate lockers, restrooms, etc.
  • Make an initial plan for when you will take breaks for lunch and snacks. Keep in mind that you may need to change your plan depending on how you are feeling during test sections.
  • Enlist family or friends who will accept your “freak out calls,” and who can provide a calm, accepting response.
  • Find someone who will agree to phone you to be certain you are awake on time on the day of your Boards
  • Go to Bath and Body works or similar store and find a calming fragrance to put on your wrists and/or clothing (lavender or coconut oil are calming scents).
  • Keep up with your exercise routines.
  • Make a plan for a rewarding activity to enjoy immediately after completing boards.
  • Write several positive self affirming thoughts on an index card to keep your outlook balanced.
  • Complete reviews of material.

Two or Three Days Before Boards

  • Purchase food items for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. (See Foods below)
  • Purchase or borrow a lunch box and a cool-pak to keep perishable items cool in the locker on Boards day.
  • If you are driving yourself put gas in your car and check tire pressure.
  • Decide what you are wearing; locate and launder items if needed. (See Clothing below)
  • Keep up with your exercise routines.
  • Consider and get together those items you may want to have in your locker on the day of Boards such as Ibuprofen /
    Acetaminophen, antacids, Imodium, Chapstick, personal hygiene items, etc.

Day Before Boards

  • Relax and casually review material. You know what you know - trying to pack in more “factoids” will not help at this stage.
  • Unwind with a good book or interesting (but not intense) movie, etc.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Prepare your lunch/snacks, clothing, etc. Place your Boards ticket and photo ID where you will not forget them.
  • Set your alarm clock and perhaps an additional back-up.
  • Call to confirm your transportation and your wake-up call.

Day of the Boards

  • Get up on time and do not hit the snooze alarm.
  • Have a nutritious breakfast (see foods below).
  • Read your affirmations card.
  • Arrive at the testing center with time to spare.
  • Use relaxation techniques to manage anxiety.
  • Take breaks as you need them in keeping with the exam policies.
  • Call your supporters for encouragement.
  • If allowed, go outside briefly when you take breaks.
  • Anxiety may increase the need to urinate; use breaks to use the restroom whether or not you feel the need.
  • If you are feeling stressed, run warm water over your hands.
  • Read your affirmations card on breaks.


  • Wear loose comfortable clothing, including a jacket or sweater you can remove if needed
  • Keep in mind you are not permitted to wear hats or hoods.
  • Wear cozy socks and slip on shoes, so that you can kick off your shoes and be comfortable.


  • Include protein and whole grains in your breakfast. The goal is to give your brain fuel and to keep your blood sugar consistent.
  • Turkey bacon or sausage and milk products are rich in tryptophan which is a natural “tranquilizer.”
  • Take similar foods for lunch / snacks on the day of your exam.
  • Consider whether or not caffeine increases your anxiety. If so, avoid it. If caffeine does not increase your anxiety, you may want to take a caffeine-containing beverage to have at lunch or break to boost your alertness.

Alice Q. Libet, Ph.D. - 2010